For the 50+ Traveler
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There has been a decided but welcome shift in how we travel. When I was in my 60s, I was bouncing around. We had just married and plunged into RVing as a never-ending honeymoon. I drove my husband nuts because I wanted to see so many things and felt we had such little time left. As I approached my 70s, though, the purpose, pace, and budget of our travels changed.

The writer and her husband during a trip to the Arctic Circle.
Carol Colborn

Purpose

When I became a sexygenarian -- a word I coined to substitute for sexagenarian to make it more exciting -- I had just retired. It was early but work had burned me out. I traveled then, but I usually just saw the four walls of a hotel. I was too focused on earning enough as a single parent. Thus, I felt my time had finally come. I wanted to see as much of the world as possible.

One story I will never forget happened when I was 61. I had stayed up all night to wait for the Northern Lights in Dawson City in Canada but was sadly disappointed. Instead of going back down to the U.S., I urged my husband to drive farther north to the Arctic Circle on the Yukon. We spent three days and two nights on gravel roads. Our RV would have died had my husband not used his belt to prop up the tailpipe that had broken loose. But I wanted the bragging rights.

Even before I reached my 70s, however, things began to change. My husband says the turning point probably happened when we started to hibernate during winter at Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort in Phoenix. Our momentum was broken and inertia set in. He discovered he was already tired of hooking and unhooking the RV every one to three weeks. It was time to slow down, he said. He had already turned 70, and it was understandable.

We bought a home base at Viewpoint Golf Resort and sold our huge motorhome. We were finally able to make a real home, eight years after we married. Now we travel to places where family and friends live or where we have made great memories and select new destinations where our timeshare memberships have great resorts for us to enjoy. We intend to explore the areas around these places.

The Omar Mosque in Brunei.
Carol Colborn

Pace

These two decades of my life couldn’t be more different in terms of pace. As a sexygenarian, I was obsessed with speed. In the beginning, we stayed only three to four days at a campground. Later, it became longer but only for a max of two or three weeks. Still, I felt I had the energy of a 50-year-old. As a sensuagenarian -- instead of septuagenarian, so it can also be exciting -- I have followed my husband’s lead.

When I was 69, for example, I traveled to four Southeast Asian countries in just four days with my girlfriends. I was on a rare visit to the Philippines and had very little time to spare. So we stayed overnight at the international airport in Malaysia, spent a day and a half in Vientiane, Laos, overnighted at the international airport in Bangkok, and spent a day and a half in Brunei.

Now that I am 72, I fully agree with my husband. I have begun to like spending rest time at a base, like our home, and use it to explore the neighboring areas with more comfort and convenience. In a sense, I have seen the wisdom of the slow and gradual revelation of landscapes, landmarks, and stories that surround us wherever we are.

Last month, for example -- before our trip was cut short by circumstances that now affect everyone worldwide -- we spent two weeks in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico instead of our usual week. After a busy day trip, we took a rest day at the beautiful beach behind our resort in Nuevo Vallarta before doing another trip the following day. We were able to cover all the places we wanted to see and still had time to luxuriate at the resort and enjoy the nearby areas.

The Golden Stupa in Vientiane, Laos.
Carol Colborn

Budget

When we were in our 60s, we bought second-hand RVs, cooked our meals and ate in a lot, and delighted at finding treasures in Goodwill stores. Our income had shrunk to a monthly pension, investment dividends, and rental money from our homes. We were so successful in following our budget that we lived on far less than we would have if we’d stayed home.

When I was 69, I flew 36 hours from Phoenix to Melbourne instead of taking the normal 18-hour flight because the fare that included long layovers in Guangzhou was dirt cheap. Well, I never got to see the city as I’d intended to during the long layovers. Instead, I suffered in the airport for seven hours on the way there and 12 hours on the way back, both without Facebook. There were times we chose cheaper lodging even if it was far from the city center. And there were many times we kept to street or fast food to save travel dollars.

Now that we are in our 70s, we need to travel more comfortably, if not stylishly. Being older, we look for more convenience, too. That means a higher budget, which leads to traveling less and more selectively. It’s good our children told us to die poor. Now we are vacationing in timeshares -- we have four months’ worth -- that give us a consistent level of quality at a more affordable cost.

As a matter of fact, when we were in Mougins, France, for a week, we realized we didn’t have enough time to cover all the places we wanted to see. So we arranged for a car with a driver to take us to all the picturesque towns around Nice, including Eze, Saint Paul de Vence, and Grasse. We got to go to Monaco, too. Maybe later on, we will even be able to upgrade to business class for long haul flights.

Now I can say that I am past bouncing around. I prefer slow and immersive travels. We look for a base where we can stay for preferably a minimum of two weeks and from where we can leisurely explore the neighboring areas with comfort and convenience. And going to every country is no longer a dream. Instead, I look forward to our all-inclusive three-month vacation at a resort in Mexico, which has become a mainstay, too.

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