6 spectacular retirement lifestyles perfect for travelers

It’s the start of another season, the time of year when we think about priorities and how we want to move forward in the years to come. You may be retiring soon or want to change the way you retired. Now is the time to take a break. My husband and I have used these breaks well over the years. In 2007, we met and married over a year later. We retired with a retired lifestyle; in 2013, made a change; and in 2017, went through another. Now is the time to start all over again. Here are the lifestyles we’ve tried and what we want to do next.

Carol colborn

1. Full-time RV

About 6 months after our wedding we retired and decided to live in a motorhome full time. We rented our homes, sold some of our possessions, gave others to the family, and stored the rest in the garage at my daughter’s house and in my condo shed in Seattle. We set out to conquer North America.

For the first 3 months we just gave it a go and bought a 24ft Class B used small motorhome. When we were convinced this was the lifestyle we wanted, we purchased a subscription to a National Campground Network and upgraded our “home” to a 37.5ft Class A. The network allowed us to stay in one campsite (one in nearly 200) for 3 weeks at a time. At the end of this phase of retirement, the daily cost of camping was found to be less than $ 10.

The full-time RV is perfect for the avid travelers that we were. We have crisscrossed the continent six times in 5 years, staying in the 49 continental states, 10 Canadian provinces and six Mexican states; we visited 35 national parks, 34 national monuments and hundreds of other national, regional and state monuments. It was even more perfect for me: I had just retired and emigrated to the United States. Traveling all over America brought its history and culture to life. I have truly become an American!

We have learned a lot about VR. And we found it to be a very economical way of life as long as you invest in a good used motorhome from a national chain, join a reputable camping network spread across the continent, mostly with the majestic backdrops you find, and loved the outdoors and its bounty.

A view of the beach and deckchairs
Carol colborn

2. Snowbirding + Travel the world

In 2013, when health issues arose for us, we had to change our retirement lifestyle. We turned to snowbird, stayed there for a few months, and had annual checkups with a team of doctors. Starting this Christmas season, we parked our RV at the Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort and wintered in the Phoenix area. The rest of the year we would store the RV and visit family, have family reunions, or explore the rest of the world.

To do this, we invested in two timeshare subscriptions: one which gave us many resort options around the world and another which had extensive properties all over the United States.

As a result, we spent a week each in various cities in Spain, Italy, UK, Malta, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France and Belgium which in fact bases for roaming and visiting Morocco, Tunisia, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. The other has allowed us to organize weeklong family reunions for each of our families in many scenic states. And, because our children’s homes are located in three countries and four states, we have come to know these places and their adjacent areas well.

Umbrellas on the beach at sunset
Carol colborn

3. Living in a complex

We enjoyed this phase of snowbirding so much that we decided to stay in Viewpoint for good and sold our RV. At Christmas 2017, we treated ourselves to a brand new three bedroom apartment. Three months later, we moved into our new home, “losing” ourselves to the 1,200 square feet of space, having lived in a comfortable 350 square foot RV for 8 years.

Viewpoint has everything you need for an active lifestyle 55+ (we’re 70). I choose from two fitness centers each day; after which I go to the pool, hot tub (there are four available) and sauna. Bill plays golf on one of the two courses. We tried our hand at tennis courts (there are 10) and when we didn’t do well we considered switching to pickleball (also 10 courts). And Bill loves to take me for pleasant walks in the park at night. There are movies, bingo, concerts, dinner parties, games, parties, and around 50 clubs to choose from. I chose photography, writing, painting, Texas Hold ‘Em, and the computer club.

With a large kitchen, I enjoyed cooking more, taking care of my plants was a new hobby, and I spent time with some precious friends. Staying at home allowed me to renew myself for the demanding and exciting travel days to come. My travel ideas focus on planning future trips, gathering information on what remains on the bucket list, choosing from competing alternatives, and finding the best deals.

As a final note, we chose a base in pretty Arizona so we could have plenty of options for day trips for ourselves and our visitors.

4. Make another country a second home

In 2017, a timeshare reminded us that we still have 3 weeks to lose if we don’t use the points by the end of the year. We quickly decided to spend this Christmas season in Cozumel. On this Caribbean island, we had the chance to once again change our retirement lifestyle.

The truth is, Bill would love to retire full time in Mexico. It was there that he had spent months with his family before the death of his first wife. As a compromise, we treated ourselves to a 3 month all inclusive timeshare that we could use at any of the seven resorts in Mazatlan, Puerto Morelos or Cozumel. This has proven to be more convenient than maintaining a house in a foreign country.

In 2018 and 2019 (not possible in 2020) we drove to Mazatlan where, as an added bonus, we found a reliable US-trained dentist who provides oral care at a tenth the cost. We don’t have to cook or clean either. There are up to 10 restaurants available, two private beaches, a short walk from the Zona Dorada (shopping area) and next door to the country club with free tennis, golf, pickleball, spa and fitness facilities. It’s also a short drive to downtown Mazatlan, and has plenty of options for day trips to quaint little Mexican towns.

In 2024, we will move to the five-star Ventus Resort on the Riviera Maya in Puerto Morelos.

Cruise ship on an enrichment trip
Carol colborn

5. Long-term cruise for lifelong learning

In 1926, his first ship left New Jersey for a trip of seven and a half months to 90 ports. It was called the University of the Seven Seas; later it was called the Global campus afloat. For the past 57 years, the Institute of Shipboard Education has led the successor program, Semester at sea. We got a taste of this when we cruised the Baltics, Iceland and across the UK in 2015.

In fact, the program is available to students. For non-students, the institute makes part of the ship available to Enrichment Voyages, which has since evolved into a lifelong learning program. For a minimum of 30 days, the port visits are complemented by seminars or workshops at sea. The seminars are political, economic, historical, geographical and present discussions on the art and architecture of the ports / regions. The same professors with doctorates in their field who teach students are the seminar leaders. There are also workshops which include arts and crafts workshops, writing and reading clubs, dancing, yoga, tai chi sessions, and more.

The ship’s facilities may not be as luxurious as conventional cruise ships, but enough for us 700: 10 classrooms, 1 major seminar / exhibition hall, another major seminar / ballroom, piano -bar, two dining rooms (buffet and waiter service), a swimming pool and poolside bar, three observation decks, a gym, a spa, a sauna and a wellness center, a library, computer lab, cruise ship store and medical clinic. WiFi facilities were once very limited, but now this issue has been resolved.

We still have to try this for a full semester. We will do this when we feel more comfortable that COVID is no longer the risk that it is cruising.

6. Make another country a first home

This is what we haven’t tried yet. There are places where the cost of living is such that you can live for about the same price as you would at home but be a backdoor to other dream destinations. You can stay in a Spanish “chateau”, a French chateau, an Italian vineyard, a South American pueblo or “own” an island in the Philippines! Jackie Smith, another travel blogger, still writes about her “Stone on a Hill” with a small olive grove on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece.

We are considering renting an apartment in Ireland, Portugal or Greece. These countries have special programs to attract retirees to their shores. When we are finally able to decide, we will be at home in Arizona for 3 months for health care, spend 3 winter months in Mexico, and live 6 months in a European primary residence.

As you can see, we have combined lifestyles. But, if traveling becomes more tiring, as it will tend to do as we age, any of them can be used to stay longer and be sure that the traveler in us will always be well served.

Learn more about retirement options at The journey awaits you, including these articles: