Travel in retirement

As temperatures dip and the darkest months approach, many Canadians think of heading to different climates.  Travel is the number one priority of the just retired, and warmer destinations look particularly alluring as winter closes in.  Many resources and sources of information are available to those heading away.

Find your EQ (Explorer Quotient)

The Canadian Tourism Commission has come up with a fun quiz to find out what style of traveller you are.  It is a fun way to match your preferences, personality, and values to the kind of travel you wish to experience.  Are you a Free Spirit or a No-Hassle traveller, an Authentic Experiencer or a Rejuvenator among others?  Turns out I am a Cultural History Buff and Cultural Explorer which makes sense for the type of travel I usually do.  I am planning a winter trip now to B.C., Australia, New Zealand, India and Turkey. Knowing my travel style helps reinforce my decisions along the way.

Another Canadian government site that offers a great deal for the traveller is which has lots of useful information.  There is a publication on Living Abroad, the Bon Voyage booklet and even, Her Own Way, aimed at women going solo.  Another on-line publication on this topic is Journeywoman with travel tips and articles helpful to the single woman traveller enjoy her journeys safely.

Getting Ready to Go

So many resources are there for the careful traveller.  The Canadian Snowbirds Association has a news publication that comes out four times a year.  They also have a Travel Insurance Guide, a Travel Information Guide, a Report Card, the Travellers’ Checklist, information on exchange rates, travel tips, and a helpful website.  I have heard so many nasty travel stories of those who did leave home without proper insurance, or were turned down for coverage, or did not fill out the form correctly, that I suggest that people do not leave home without it!  Your doctor’s extra set of eyes on the application may be a good move too.

The Canadian Automobile Association also has lots of relevant information and resources with everything from Roadside Assistance, to insurance, to Trip Tiks, special offers, discounts, vacation packages, and airline and hotel information.  They also have stores or online orders for travel accessories like plugs that work in various parts of the work, luggage, pillows, quick dry clothes, money belts, hats or bags designed  to make you more comfortable and safe while on the road or in the air.

Pay less

Most airlines and hotel chains have loyalty programs that give the repeat customer a discount or deal.  Some credit cards will give you points toward travel as well as insurance coverage.  Check out the details and do not assume what that coverage entails!  Early sign up or last minute choices can get you a break as well.  Many on-line sites can get you a discount or at least let you know what the going rates are in any location.  Sites like,,, and many more will give you options for bookings.  They are not without many issues that can arise.  That is why good travel agencies that can insure you and get you guarantees are still very much in business.  That is why travel brokers and group travel can get you what you need cheaper and safer that you can in some instances.  Travel is often a Buyer Beware situation like any other transaction.

So take a look at the brochures, the maps, the on-line reviews, find out your travel EQ, and dream on or get on the road.  Any travel plans for this winter? Any tips?

Written by Donna McCaw

Donna McCaw is the author of It’s Your Time about the choices and decisions in preparing for retirement, a storyteller and speaker who helps people make informed and positive transitions to retirement. She does courses and presentations on Retirement Readiness and Women and Retirement.

4 Responses to Travel in retirement

  1. Travelling is a bug I caught years ago and still have. I love to travel and experience the places and people I visit rather than stay in a resort. My concern stems from the fact that travelling at an ever increasing age will push the insurance rates to levels where it becomes the sole factor in choosing whether to go or not.

    • If you have a good insurance broker who can help you navigate the options, you can go where you like as long as you are willing to cover the costs of insurance.

      Those pesky pre-existing conditions can throw you off your travelling pace but if travel is one of your values and interests, you will find a way to make it work.

  2. Be very careful with travel medical health insurance. You may not be covered.
    If you leave you front door, hop on a plane for another country, that day you should be OK.
    However, if you drive or fly to another province, spend a few days with the kids or sightseeing before heading south, many plans will not cover you.
    In effect, plans offered by grocery stores and some banks require you to purchase insurance from the day you leave your home province, even though it is not essential to have insurance while still in Canada.
    Some place offer pre-purchased 4 day and 8 day travel plans that you activate when you plan on traveling. But, you can not even activate those plans unless you are in your home province. For example,an 8 Day plan will not work if you fly into Toronto from outside Ontario, spent 3 or 4 days touring Toronto and then fly to your all inclusive Cuba/ Dominican/wherever getaway.
    So check the fine print, if you plan on leaving your home province and spending two weeks over the holidays with family, your coverage may have to start when you leave home.

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