How to craft the ultimate travel guide for your retirement | Colonial First State: Unleash your second half

Many lifelong travellers get the bug early. A gap year, a backpacking adventure or a working holiday abroad, and that’s it, you’re hooked for life.

But the trouble with travel is that once you’re in full-time work or have a family, there’s never enough time to do it properly. That is, until you reach your “second half” of life.

If you’ve planned well for retirement, you’ll have plenty of time – and money – for your most adventurous dreams. So even if it seems impossible now, there’s no need to give up on those long-held fantasies. Instead, plan ahead for a fun-filled retirement.

So what’s on your bucket list?

Some people dream of getting a little place near the coast, going back to university, or writing the great Australian novel. For others, it’s all about travel. At the top of many lists is a treat you’ve always dreamed of: fine dining in Margaret River or McLaren Vale, a luxury retreat in a stunning wilderness location such as Uluru, Cradle Mountain or the Great Barrier Reef, or a culture-packed city getaway to Canberra’s galleries or Melbourne’s theatres.

Award-winning travel writer Andrew Bain, who has been covering exciting travel experiences for more than two decades, says if he had extra time and money he would use it to visit more remote destinations.

“If you can take off for six or eight weeks instead of one or two weeks, you’ve got that luxury of time,” he says.

Bain dreams of visiting places that are out of budget for backpackers, and too time-consuming to reach with annual leave alone. Places such as the pristine wilderness of Kamchatka in far-eastern Russia; Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean; and the glaciers of Svalbard in the deep north of Norway.

Likewise, many of Australia’s most memorable adventures are accessible to those who have the luxury of time. Unforgettable journeys include the 30,000km “big lap of Australia” (recommended timeframe: three months to one year), or the 2,800km “shortcut” on the Outback Way through the Red Centre from Winton, Queensland, to Laverton, Western Australia.

Adventures like this are all about the magic combination of time plus funds. Meaning you need to have a robust financial plan in place before you get there. Those extra funds can mean the difference between taking a yoga class around the corner, or at a wellness resort in Bali. Or the difference between taking notes from MasterChef or a cooking course in Paris.

They might mean you can gear up properly for activity-based travel such as an outback 4WD adventure, sailing the Whitsundays, or tackling a section of the epic, 60-day Heysen Trail from the outback Flinders Ranges to the coast.

Retirement is also a time when you can dive deep into your personal passions, such as a love of the natural world, fine wine, or an interest in family history. Bain says if you have the funds, you can hire specialist local guides to get a more curated experience. Whether it’s an ecologist in the Daintree, an oenologist in the Barossa, or a local historian who can help with research, a specialist can offer “knowledge you don’t get from a standard tour or just travelling by yourself”, he says.

For example, “Kamchatka is a big volcano and wildlife area. You want someone who knows the geology of the place and the wildlife. I wouldn’t typically spend my entire time with them, but you can access that knowledge if you pay someone to travel with you for a day or two. It doesn’t even have to be a tourist guide, just someone local.”

Cheerful male and female friends having french fries at beach on sunny day

Bain says he seeks out inspirational landscapes. “I’m typically drawn to the mountains, and to see the best of the mountains, you have to be active. You’ve got to hike it, or sometimes cycle it, to really experience it.”

Fortuitously, activity-based travel pairs very nicely with another great travel treat: fine dining. “I’m probably more appreciative of good food, wine and spirits now,” he says. “When you’ve spent the day out hiking or cycling, instead of coming back to just cook for yourself or graze on pub food, I like finding somewhere really cool to eat, with a good bottle of wine, maybe some whiskey.” With the flexibility and funds to travel when you like, you can take in seasonal events, such as fishing seasons, wine festivals or fruit harvests.

So when the world’s your oyster, how do you put together a bucket list? Bain says now is the time to explore your personal interests. “Most of us have had 20, 30, or 40 years of actual travelling, whether it’s small or large trips, so you know what you like to see,” he says. “Do your research. Say cathedrals are your thing. Find the really unusual ones, the ones you’ve never heard of. And then just figure out how to get there.”

Redefine your retirement and unleash your second half. Learn more at CFS.