5 Tips for Happier Traveling for Empty Nesters
Traveling is super fun for me. However, it can be exhausting and sometimes stressful. There’s all the planning, organizing and decision making. You need to commit significant time and money. And once you’ve made it out the door you need to deal with the stresses of your journey. Is it even worth it if it’s not going to be fun? For us empty nesters and people in the middle of life, we ask ourselves the big life questions. What is it I really want? For me it’s to enjoy my life. A fun, adventurous and relaxing journey brings me joy. I’ve traveled to 16 countries in the last 3 years and plan on visiting 39 more over the next two years. I’ll go to 55 countries by the time I turn 55. I’ve got the travel thing down. Here are my 5 suggestions for happier and more relaxed traveling.
1. Plan well
It’s important to plan your trip well. Depending on your comfort level you’ll want to book flights, transfers, your itinerary and accommodations in advance. Do your research, download the apps and info onto your phone. Knowing where to look up info is super helpful when you need to make changes to your plan as you go.
2. Travel light
One of the advantages of being an empty nester is that we don’t have kids to lug around with us anymore. Everything is so much easier. Over the years I’ve started paring down my bag and I highly recommend it! 9 times out of 10 I’ve got only one carry on, sometimes only a personal under the seat item. It takes a bit more organizing in advance to make sure you have everything you need. In return the actual traveling is way easier and much more relaxing. I’ve got only a handful of my favorite outfits with me which means that getting ready to go anywhere takes just a few minutes. I can go straight from the airport to sightseeing and generally can be much more flexible in my travels. I keep bringing less and have yet to feel like I really missed something. Stay tuned for my packing lists and other recommendations, coming soon.
3. Build in downtime.
Being 50 we deserve to take it easy and enjoy the journey. I’ve started building in downtime from whatever is happening. This can look very different for each of you. If you’re hiking every day the down day may be going to a museum. For me it means after 2 to 3 days in crowded airports, cities and tourist sites I need a nature fix, beach or even just an afternoon walking around parks.
4. Have a contingency fund
I’m not trying to travel Europe at $10 per day anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a budget traveler at heart and not looking to burn through our retirement savings in the next two years. However, traveling is a lot more joyful if you have some backup funds to spend when things don’t go quite as planned. Take that taxi or book a last minute hotel night and massage. My mantra is to make plans but remain flexible. If things go wrong just remember - you’re creating exciting stories. These are the moments you’ll remember and talk about for years to come. It’s boring when everything just goes as planned.
5. Have realistic expectations.
Finally, it’s essential to our happiness to have realistic expectations, to live in the moment and to go with the flow. Different countries mean different customs, things may move slow or not at all. Logistics will change, flights will be missed and things will go wrong. Your travel will be much happier if you’re able to not sweat the small stuff.
Turn off your phone, enjoy where you are and just breathe.
“Everything is going to be okay in the end and if it’s not okay it’s not the end” old indian proverb