Shot of a mature couple enjoying a relaxing boat rideEveryone has their own idea of a perfect retirement, whether it’s spending their days relaxing in a beachside condo, or traveling the world and having adventures. While it’s easy to fantasize about how you would make the most of your golden years if money was no option, planning enjoyable things to do in retirement that are realistic and achievable can be another story. While many of the fascinating opportunities advertised to seniors are quite expensive, fulfilling your goals for retirement living can often be accomplished for less money if you’re willing to think outside-the-box. So don’t give up on that retirement bucket list yet, here are 7 non-traditional lifestyles some seniors are enjoying!

1. International traveling – on a budget!

The majority of people nearing retirement age say they want to travel more after they stop working, making it one of the most popular goals. However, not all these people are making their dreams a reality; a study by AARP found that for 51% of retirees the cost of traveling is the biggest barrier. While traveling can be expensive, when you travel and how you travel has a huge impact on how much it costs.

Thanks to modern advances there are more ways to travel cheaply than ever before! Websites/Apps like Airbnb, CouchSurfing, and Priceline.com with its “name your own price” tool, are just a few of the resources that have redefined the type of accommodations you can access internationally and made finding deals much easier. If you’re willing to live more like a local than a tourist, frequent or long-term traveling becomes much more realistic.

For example, take the “Senior Nomads”, Michael and Debbie Campbell, of Seattle, WA. They sold their home along with most of their possessions and have been traveling Europe since 2013, staying at Airbnb rentals. Before they crunched the numbers and began their adventure, they thought there was no way they could afford extensive international travel.

When you have an open schedule saving money on travel is much easier too! It’s typically less expensive to fly Monday through Wednesday, and visiting certain locations in the off-season can be drastically cheaper. Knowing where you want to travel and being ready to pick up and go can also be a great strategy. Airlines occasionally post incorrect prices, called error fares, which can allow you to book a flight for a fraction of what it would normally cost! If international travel is really important to you, you can make it work, even on a limited budget.

2. International Volunteering

If you want to see the world and give back, international volunteering is a perfect fit! An added benefit is that it can help keep your travel costs down since many programs provide lodging or meals, or sometimes both. You’ll often get a more authentic experience of the places you visit as you live and work closely with locals. More importantly, you’ll have the chance to make a difference in the lives of those who need help the most. What causes are you passionate about? Helping less fortunate children? Cleaning up the environment? Protecting wildlife?

There are organizations around the world that are already changing things for the better in the areas that are closest to your heart! While you’re guaranteed to make memories and have new experiences most any time you travel, the feeling of accomplishment you get from making the world a better place is something you’ll always remember and cherish.

3. Workamping

“Workamping” is a lifestyle that is popular with many retirees who want to travel and live an outdoors lifestyle. The people who live like this travel the U.S. in RVs to stay at parks, campgrounds, resorts, and amusement parks, where they work in exchange for money and a free campsite. Most Workampers chose this lifestyle because they are able to supplement their income while fulfilling their retirement bucket list.

Many find the work enjoyable as it is often outdoors and involves interacting with people on vacation (so they’re usually in a good mood). For example, you might work as a campground host or in the visitor center of a park. If you’re looking to travel long-term, this is one of the cheapest ways to do it!

4. Starting your own business

So you’ve ended your career to retire, why would you want to work anymore? Well, if you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t seem like a job, and that’s just what most seniors who chose entrepreneurship pursue! They start a business around one of their passions. It’s a great way to keep yourself socially connected and supplement your retirement income, after all, you’d probably be spending time doing that hobby anyways.

The great thing about starting a business in retirement is that you have freedom, especially if you don’t really need additional income. Do you only want to work a couple days a week? No problem. Do you want to try creating a brand new product or service? Go for it! Do you want to work with your spouse or best friend? You can! Many seniors have unfulfilled ambitions of being their own boss or pursuing a passion and sharing it with the world. Why let those aspirations go unsatisfied when you have plenty of time on your hands?

5. Becoming an over-the-road truck driver

Do you want to see the American countryside and get paid to do it? While driving an 18-wheeler isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun road trip, the number of retired people getting licensed to drive semi trucks continues to grow. While it seems to be a more popular option with men than women, many of them bring their spouses along for the journey.

The main appeal of truck driving is traveling in the privacy of your own vehicle without many of the hassles that normally come with cross-country travel. If you decide to lease or buy your own truck and become an owner-operator, you can set your own schedule and pick your routes. You might be surprised to learn there is actually a demand for older drivers!

Fred Hiebert, who manages United Transportation Driver Training (a truck driving school), says, “The industry has lost many of its seasoned drivers and the companies are calling me saying ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job with the 18 and 20-year-olds but they are harder on the equipment.’ They love the retirees who are more mature and have more work experience.” It’s important to note that there are some physical requirements to become a driver, typically including passing a physical examination by a doctor. While working in retirement isn’t for everyone, some people are happy to do it in exchange for the ability to travel cheaply throughout the U.S.

6. Going back to school

Retirement is a great time to invest in bettering yourself, and higher education is a great way to do it! Have you always wanted to earn a college degree? Or get an additional degree in something that you’re passionate about? In retirement not only do you have the free time to pursue that, but it will likely cost you a lot less.

There are numerous colleges that provide discounts to retirees above a certain age, or even better, free classes! You likely won’t be the only older student on campus; it’s becoming so popular for retirees to go back to school that some colleges are constructing retirement communities on campus or close by. You’re never too old to learn something new, and a college education might be the spark the ignites excitement and a new purpose in your retirement!

7. Getting involved in local politics or government

Being part of something bigger than yourself helps many seniors find fulfillment, stay active, and make new friends in retirement. Whether you’ve lived in the same area for a long time and want to help change things or are newer and want to become more involved in local issues, there are opportunities to participate. You could volunteer to work for the campaign of someone you hope to see elected, volunteer to work at the voting polls on election days, or even run for an elected position such as school board or city council member.

Another option is finding a social or political cause to join. There are non-profit organizations making positive changes in your area who have a great need for passionate volunteers. Just because you ended your career doesn’t mean your involvement in the local community should diminish. Why not use some of your time to get out there and make a difference? You’ll be glad you did!

There are an endless amount of options for things to do in retirement. While there is nothing wrong with a traditional retirement, if you long for something different, go for it! Many people decide to change their lifestyle completely and never look back. Adventure doesn’t have to end once you become a senior, just make sure you have adequate insurance to protect yourself from risk.

A retirement bucket list can give you a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in your later years. For some people, retirement living means a whole new lifestyle that enables them to achieve their dreams. Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to plan and make the most of your time; you owe it to yourself!

If you found this article interesting then SHARE it with your friends and family on social media!

Get more retirement news and tips from AmeriLife

Shot of a mature couple enjoying a relaxing boat rideEveryone has their own idea of a perfect retirement, whether it’s spending their days relaxing in a beachside condo, or traveling the world and having adventures. While it’s easy to fantasize about how you would make the most of your golden years if money was no option, planning enjoyable things to do in retirement that are realistic and achievable can be another story. While many of the fascinating opportunities advertised to seniors are quite expensive, fulfilling your goals for retirement living can often be accomplished for less money if you’re willing to think outside-the-box. So don’t give up on that retirement bucket list yet, here are 7 non-traditional lifestyles some seniors are enjoying!

1. International traveling – on a budget!

The majority of people nearing retirement age say they want to travel more after they stop working, making it one of the most popular goals. However, not all these people are making their dreams a reality; a study by AARP found that for 51% of retirees the cost of traveling is the biggest barrier. While traveling can be expensive, when you travel and how you travel has a huge impact on how much it costs.

Thanks to modern advances there are more ways to travel cheaply than ever before! Websites/Apps like Airbnb, CouchSurfing, and Priceline.com with its “name your own price” tool, are just a few of the resources that have redefined the type of accommodations you can access internationally and made finding deals much easier. If you’re willing to live more like a local than a tourist, frequent or long-term traveling becomes much more realistic.

For example, take the “Senior Nomads”, Michael and Debbie Campbell, of Seattle, WA. They sold their home along with most of their possessions and have been traveling Europe since 2013, staying at Airbnb rentals. Before they crunched the numbers and began their adventure, they thought there was no way they could afford extensive international travel.

When you have an open schedule saving money on travel is much easier too! It’s typically less expensive to fly Monday through Wednesday, and visiting certain locations in the off-season can be drastically cheaper. Knowing where you want to travel and being ready to pick up and go can also be a great strategy. Airlines occasionally post incorrect prices, called error fares, which can allow you to book a flight for a fraction of what it would normally cost! If international travel is really important to you, you can make it work, even on a limited budget.

2. International Volunteering

If you want to see the world and give back, international volunteering is a perfect fit! An added benefit is that it can help keep your travel costs down since many programs provide lodging or meals, or sometimes both. You’ll often get a more authentic experience of the places you visit as you live and work closely with locals. More importantly, you’ll have the chance to make a difference in the lives of those who need help the most. What causes are you passionate about? Helping less fortunate children? Cleaning up the environment? Protecting wildlife?

There are organizations around the world that are already changing things for the better in the areas that are closest to your heart! While you’re guaranteed to make memories and have new experiences most any time you travel, the feeling of accomplishment you get from making the world a better place is something you’ll always remember and cherish.

3. Workamping

“Workamping” is a lifestyle that is popular with many retirees who want to travel and live an outdoors lifestyle. The people who live like this travel the U.S. in RVs to stay at parks, campgrounds, resorts, and amusement parks, where they work in exchange for money and a free campsite. Most Workampers chose this lifestyle because they are able to supplement their income while fulfilling their retirement bucket list.

Many find the work enjoyable as it is often outdoors and involves interacting with people on vacation (so they’re usually in a good mood). For example, you might work as a campground host or in the visitor center of a park. If you’re looking to travel long-term, this is one of the cheapest ways to do it!

4. Starting your own business

So you’ve ended your career to retire, why would you want to work anymore? Well, if you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t seem like a job, and that’s just what most seniors who chose entrepreneurship pursue! They start a business around one of their passions. It’s a great way to keep yourself socially connected and supplement your retirement income, after all, you’d probably be spending time doing that hobby anyways.

The great thing about starting a business in retirement is that you have freedom, especially if you don’t really need additional income. Do you only want to work a couple days a week? No problem. Do you want to try creating a brand new product or service? Go for it! Do you want to work with your spouse or best friend? You can! Many seniors have unfulfilled ambitions of being their own boss or pursuing a passion and sharing it with the world. Why let those aspirations go unsatisfied when you have plenty of time on your hands?

5. Becoming an over-the-road truck driver

Do you want to see the American countryside and get paid to do it? While driving an 18-wheeler isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun road trip, the number of retired people getting licensed to drive semi trucks continues to grow. While it seems to be a more popular option with men than women, many of them bring their spouses along for the journey.

The main appeal of truck driving is traveling in the privacy of your own vehicle without many of the hassles that normally come with cross-country travel. If you decide to lease or buy your own truck and become an owner-operator, you can set your own schedule and pick your routes. You might be surprised to learn there is actually a demand for older drivers!

Fred Hiebert, who manages United Transportation Driver Training (a truck driving school), says, “The industry has lost many of its seasoned drivers and the companies are calling me saying ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job with the 18 and 20-year-olds but they are harder on the equipment.’ They love the retirees who are more mature and have more work experience.” It’s important to note that there are some physical requirements to become a driver, typically including passing a physical examination by a doctor. While working in retirement isn’t for everyone, some people are happy to do it in exchange for the ability to travel cheaply throughout the U.S.

6. Going back to school

Retirement is a great time to invest in bettering yourself, and higher education is a great way to do it! Have you always wanted to earn a college degree? Or get an additional degree in something that you’re passionate about? In retirement not only do you have the free time to pursue that, but it will likely cost you a lot less.

There are numerous colleges that provide discounts to retirees above a certain age, or even better, free classes! You likely won’t be the only older student on campus; it’s becoming so popular for retirees to go back to school that some colleges are constructing retirement communities on campus or close by. You’re never too old to learn something new, and a college education might be the spark the ignites excitement and a new purpose in your retirement!

7. Getting involved in local politics or government

Being part of something bigger than yourself helps many seniors find fulfillment, stay active, and make new friends in retirement. Whether you’ve lived in the same area for a long time and want to help change things or are newer and want to become more involved in local issues, there are opportunities to participate. You could volunteer to work for the campaign of someone you hope to see elected, volunteer to work at the voting polls on election days, or even run for an elected position such as school board or city council member.

Another option is finding a social or political cause to join. There are non-profit organizations making positive changes in your area who have a great need for passionate volunteers. Just because you ended your career doesn’t mean your involvement in the local community should diminish. Why not use some of your time to get out there and make a difference? You’ll be glad you did!

There are an endless amount of options for things to do in retirement. While there is nothing wrong with a traditional retirement, if you long for something different, go for it! Many people decide to change their lifestyle completely and never look back. Adventure doesn’t have to end once you become a senior, just make sure you have adequate insurance to protect yourself from risk.

A retirement bucket list can give you a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in your later years. For some people, retirement living means a whole new lifestyle that enables them to achieve their dreams. Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to plan and make the most of your time; you owe it to yourself!

If you found this article interesting then SHARE it with your friends and family on social media!

Get more retirement news and tips from AmeriLife

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