Tulum, Mexico CCO Public Domain

Tulum, Mexico
CCO Public Domain

Who doesn’t want to travel?

Meet new people, see new sites, try new food, and do different things…

As a not-really-retired-but-semi-free-to-come-and-go boomer, I am fortunate that my wife and I can travel when we don’t have other commitments. As “refocused” boomers I thought that travel would be easier than it is. But, with work commitments, community activities, babysitting for our granddaughter, caring for older parents, we haven’t traveled as much as we would like in the last few years. We are fortunate to take a warm weather get-away to unthaw and warm up from our Maine home.

Now it is mid-winter and we are in the midst of a rather prolonged deep freeze. Maybe I just need to talk about travel to get the blood pumping a bit. Thinking about why I travel and where I like to go is making me feel better already. So, here are several key reasons this boomer (and his wife) travels. Do these ideas make any sense to you?

1. Learn something! For boomers, learning vacations are becoming more and more popular. Ever inquisitive, always evolving, boomers are happy to take part or all of their vacations to learn something new. From  writing your own book or blog, cooking, playing an instrument, learning about wine and wine-making, or simply learning more about the travel spots they are visiting, there is no limit to the learning that can take place. As a former tennis player ready to begin playing again, I’m already looking at a boomer tennis camp for an upcoming and as yet unplanned get-away.

2. Relax and unwind. Vacations are supposed to do just that. While more and more working people are foregoing their vacations many boomers have the flexibility to go when the mood strikes. Getting away from home means not only time away from work or other commitments, but it can also be a technology break for emails, texts, and the constant chatter of social media. Trips outside the U.S. are particularly effective when internet or phone data access is either not available or too expensive.

3. Give back. My wife and I trekked to New Orleans four times after Hurricane Katrina, once as a family group and three times as chaperones for a high school youth group. Working with the St. Bernard Project, we volunteered to rebuild houses that had been destroyed by the hurricane. Over the years we worked hard on a variety of tasks —from mold removal where we scrubbed every available surface in the house, every 2 by 4 and every floor; to mudding and sanding (and more mudding and sanding); hanging drywall; painting; yard clean-up, and much more. We always worked hard and we were usually too tired to see many of the sites, but we learned a great deal, helped people who needed it, and learned about the true dimensions of the hurricane from the locals we met. When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York in October 2012, our group headed to Long Island, NY to do the same kind of work. No doubt these were some of our best vacations ever and there are many opportunities to volunteer.

Easy to do this when you leave town but how about a vacation at home? The best part is that travel doesn’t have to be far, expensive, or even last that long. Each of these travel objectives—learning, relaxing, and giving back—can be done across the world or across town. From adult ed classes and workshops to free workshops in public libraries to all sorts of volunteer gigs, the opportunities are endless. In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about taking a vacation from home. Certainly rewarding, but it does require some new ways of thinking. Here is another excellent article about boomer travel.

And just for fun and since we are talking travel, here are three of my favorite places to travel.

1. The people, the food, the beaches—Tulum and Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Mexico has been our warm weather retreat for 12 years. We’ve spent most of our time on Isla Mujeres, a small island, five miles long and a half-mile wide, just across the bay from Cancun. Although it has now been discovered and busier than it was 10 years ago, it is still relatively quiet, very safe, and relaxing. If you are looking for a huge party spot with lots of nightlife, Isla is not your place. If you like gorgeous beaches (Playa Norte), warm water, excellent restaurants that are also very economical, and lots of little shops to poke around in, then this is the place for you. Last year we decided to try out someplace new, Tulum lies along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula about 70 miles south of Cancun. With a population of approximately 25,000, Tulum is a bustling little city with shops, hotels, and restaurants in the Centro section and a variety of hotels and restaurants on the beach. Quiet, laid-back, and fun for everyone.

2. More than lobsters, beautiful coasts, and whoopie pies—Maine. Although Maine is all of that, it is much more as well. Every season offers something different: Summer, essentially July and August, is what everyone knows about Maine. Beautiful coastal views in towns like Camden, Belfast, and Lubec; hiking in Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park; eating lobster just about anywhere. But the other seasons offer their own beauty as well. September and October into November are beautiful months with classic New England foliage and fewer crowds. Winter months offer abundant outdoor activities from downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and much more. Spring comes late to Maine but May and June are often typically beautiful for hiking, biking the Down East Sunrise Trail, and just meandering through the scenic Maine countryside.  Stillwater River

What are your favorite travel locations?

Thinking about Maine? Come visit us in May 2015 in Freeport or Bar Harbor.