Top Summer Vacation Ideas for Retirees

A couple wearing white robes sitting by a pool holding cups of orange juice

After you’ve retired, getting away on vacation is just as important as when you’re working. You still need to recharge your batteries and get a break from the everyday routine. Not to mention, it’s a great way to see new places and learn about new cultures!

Vacations bring several health benefits: they get you active, sharpen your mind and relaxing helps relieve stress. Many people want to travel more after retirement and 38% of baby boomers have a travel-related bucket list. Retirement is often the best time to visit places you’ve never been.

Ideal summer vacation spots when you’re retired are quite different from when you are in your twenties or have a young family. Eardrum-bursting nightclubs and resorts with kids’ clubs likely don’t sit at the top of your list. Instead, many retirees prefer more tranquil summer vacation destinations with a good selection of cultural and educational activities.

With this in mind, we have put together a few summer vacation ideas that you could add to your travel bucket list.

Summer’s the time to go down under

While many people think of the Sydney Opera House and Ayers Rock, there is far more to Australia than those two icons. Friendly locals, safe cities, great food and wine, heaps of culture and breathtaking natural beauty all go towards making Australia a great destination for Canadian retirees.

Australia is one of the best places to go in the summer for Canadians. Sydney usually enjoys maximum temperatures of around 20 degrees and some of its lowest rainfall between July and September, while other cities like Brisbane (23 degrees) and Darwin (28 degrees) enjoy much milder temperatures than in their peak season of January-February.

Australia has countless national parks that are home to rainforests, natural beauty and a vast collection of wildlife. Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is home to 300 species of birds as well as wallabies, saltwater crocodiles and dingoes. You’ll also see spectacular waterfalls, gorges, mango swamps and aboriginal rock art. Blue Mountains National Park near Sydney is home to the Three Sisters 900-metre tall sandstone rock formations. The Great Barrier Reef, on the east coast, is a huge area of 3,000 coral reefs and countless islands and probably the most amazing place to visit in the country.

Australia’s cities are wonderful places to go in the summer, with world class museums, World Heritage Buildings, phenomenal restaurants and bars, excellent entertainment and fabulous shopping. You’ll struggle to fit everything into your trip, no matter how long your stay.

Getting there:

  • Flights to Australia in August can be up to $1,000 cheaper than travelling in January, making it one of the best summer holiday destinations. You will usually switch planes in either California or New Zealand and pay around $1,500 from Vancouver and $1,860 from Toronto, round-trip*. You can find four-star accommodation for just $80 a night in Sydney and $110 a night in Darwin.

Cruising with a difference

While cruises might seem like a clichéd summer vacation idea for retirees, there are good reasons why they are so popular with the over 55 crowd.

You get to see lots of new places without having to haul your luggage with you. Most cruise ships provide great food and a wide mixture of entertainment every night, making them a good summer vacation idea for retirees.

Certain cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard and Princess cater to retired guests, offering accessible rooms and shore excursions, as well as help for guests with sight or hearing issues. Their ships are more intimate, with entertainment aimed at a discerning crowd, with wine tastings, seminars and lectures, culinary demonstrations, Shakespearean performances and art and language classes.

Here are some stunning summer cruise vacation destinations:

  • Alaska: this is a great summer vacation spot, where you can enjoy the midnight sun in temperatures that climb as high as 20 degrees. Alaska offers breathtaking scenery from the ocean and you can combine your cruise with a tour of the state’s interior.
  • Norwegian fjords: summer is also the best time to enjoy the sights of Norway’s vast sea inlets, surrounded by high cliffs. The breathtaking scenery, with many glacier-fed waterfalls and beautiful coastal towns make these cruises a fabulous summer vacation idea.
  • European river cruises: the smaller, more intimate river cruise ships add to this unique cruising experience. Mild summer temperatures and stops in beautiful and historical cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland make for an ideal summer vacation destination.

Getting there:

  • Alaska cruises leaving Vancouver start at $960 (meals extra) with Royal Caribbean for seven nights.
  • Moselle and Rhine luxury 10-day cruise with meals (Germany, Austria, Hungary) start from $3,329 with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, leaving from Frankfurt.
  • Norwegian seven-day fjord cruise with Cunard starts from $1,688 including meals (departing from Southampton, UK). Flights not included.

A summer South African safari

Going on a safari is on many Canadian’s bucket list. Seeing herds of large, majestic animals in their natural environment makes for a great summer vacation idea for many retirees.

A South African safari is an ideal place for Canadians to go in the summer: there are smaller crowds and very mild temperatures, with highs of just 16-20 degrees, nominal rainfall and 10 hours of sunshine daily.

While Kruger Park is arguably one of the best summer holiday destinations, and one of the biggest game reserves in Africa, there are plenty of reserves within easy reach of Johannesburg. As well as the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and cape buffalo) you may also see cheetahs, giraffes, brown hyenas, wildebeest, zebras and giraffes, as well as 300 different types of birds.

The list of activities offered at the game reserves is exceptional. Game drives, boat cruises, bush walks, fishing, cultural tours, clay pigeon shooting, hot-air balloon rides, microlight flights, quad biking, bird walks, stargazing drives, horse riding, and crocodile feeding demonstrations are just a selection of them.

Getting there:

  • Flights can be up to $700 cheaper in September compared to August, with flights from Toronto to Johannesburg starting at $1,200, or flights from Vancouver starting at $1,300.

Enjoy a warm Irish welcome

Summer vacation ideas don’t get any better than Ireland. While you’re unlikely to tan, temperatures get into the early twenties and rainfall is lower than other months of the year.

Ireland is such a welcoming country and has so much to offer the retired traveller. It’s a truly unique summer vacation destination with its vibrant cities and lively pub culture, its countless castles and stately homes, and historical sites dating back over 3,000 years.

With rolling green hills and clifftop views, Ireland has the best walks in the world, according to National Geographic.

Summertime is also when many of the country’s big cultural festivals take place. Galway and Dungloe both host international arts festivals; West Cork has a literary festival; there are traditional music festivals in Ballyshannon and Cross; and food festivals in Athenry, Donegal and Galway.

Getting there:

  • Late summer can be cheaper, with Air Canada flights costing $810 from Toronto to Dublin in August and $682 in September.
  • From Vancouver to Dublin they cost around $1,200 in August and $835 in September.
  • Four-star hotels in Dublin can be found for less than $170 nightly and a B&B in Cork will cost from $100 a night.
Can’t afford your dream vacation? A reverse mortgage may be able to get the cash you need!

For those who like it hot

While the rest of the above summer vacation ideas were in milder climates, we know that many retirees still love to hit the beach – who doesn’t enjoy basking in the hot sun? Most retirees don’t like crowded beaches and noisy nightlife, however. These summer vacation destinations offer more culture and tranquility than your typical beach holiday:

Tulum is a very different Mexican summer vacation spot. Much quieter than other parts of the Mayan Riviera and a safer destination, its highlights include the ruins of an ancient Mayan port city perched on a rocky cliff, overlooking the ocean. You can explore underground, water-filled caverns and bio-reserves, and enjoy cycling, beach walks, yoga and diving. The average summer temperature is around 28 degrees.

Getting there:

  • Air Canada flies to Cancun direct from Toronto in the summer for around $520 round trip. You can find three-star beachfront hotel rooms from $160 a night in August, which is a fraction of the price in the peak winter months.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten is one of the best places to go in the summer in the Caribbean. The southern half is Dutch while the northern side is French. The Dutch part has secluded coves, fusion cuisine, lagoons and beautiful beaches. The capital, Philipsburg, has cobble-stone streets and colourful colonial buildings.

The French side has chic boutiques, bistros, French cafes and luxurious hotels.

Getting there:

  • In summer you can get a flight plus a four-star hotel room for a week for $2,800 for two people (flying from Toronto).

Funding your retirement vacations

For retirees who are on a tight, fixed income, vacations can often become a thing of the past. However, there is a way to enjoy summer trips every year without it having an impact on your retirement income.

The CHIP Reverse Mortgage® allows you to cash in some of the equity in your home with no regular mortgage payments to make. You only have to pay back what you owe when you decide to sell your home.

Call us at 1-866-522-2447 to find out how much you could borrow and start planning your summer vacation destination.

Looking for more fun ways to spend your summer?

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