What’s on your travel bucket list?

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Question: My husband and I are planning to retire in a few years. We started thinking about our “to do list” of places to visit. If you were in our situation, what would you suggest?

Answer: Thank you for your e-mail and I know you like to think about travel but I have to ask: why are you waiting until you retire?

Today is what we have. Don’t waste it, because as a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service, I see it all too often: the kids or grandkids need help; we become caregivers of a parent; the back or knees flare out so much that we have to slow down; a pandemic makes us blind. life happens.

Our precious vacation dreams – and all the wonderful plans we had saved to enjoy – are being put on hold. Our tomorrow never comes. That’s why I scream at the top of my lungs: Go now!

How fortunate we Americans are to have so many choices of where to travel, but then again, that only adds to the dilemma. I know you wanted a simple 1-2-3 answer, but when it comes to travel, I’m like that kid whose mommy gives him a $20 bill, sends him to the candy store, and tells him to only buy one thing.

To answer your question about what I would spend my hard-earned travel money on when I retire, my mind raced around the world before making my top 5 decisions. I chose these destinations because, like that old song on the radio that can make you smile no matter where you are or how much time has passed, the travel memories still make me happy. Truth be told, travel is such a personal thing that one day you might just find yourself in the exact same spot as me and say, “What the heck? Is that it?” But since you asked, here are my top options for your retirement “to go” list:

*I have to go to Italy. What a great country! We appreciated the history and talent that made Rome, Venice and Florence so special, but we found the hill towns and vineyards of Tuscany, the Lake District around Bellagio, the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast magical. I really hate to be vague, but you could just throw a dart outside of the Big 3 – Rome, Florence and Venice – and I’d love it. Get off the beaten path and you’ll understand why Italy should be on your retirement radar.

*All the ads say “It’s better in the Bahamas” but personally I’d pick Hawaii any day! Maui has always been our favorite island, but we’ve also found something we love about the others—Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii. These islands are all very diverse and have so much to offer. Take the time to appreciate and explore everything they bring to the vacation table to determine the best island for you, or simply give me a call at Monroe Travel Service. There’s so much more to Hawaii than a great beach!

*The Pacific Northwest should be on everyone’s travel bucket list! Majestic is the word that comes to mind when I think of this travel corridor. You can do it in chunks and pieces over multiple trips or like we did. We started in Seattle, explored the charming towns in the Puget Sound area, and then took the train to Vancouver, Canada. From this city as cool as San Francisco we took the ferry to the small island of Victoria where we surveyed the beauty of Buchart Gardens and the waterfront before returning to Vancouver. Then we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer Train and set off into all of this breathtaking beauty of the Canadian Rockies. What a ride! Mother Nature has done some of her best work in this western part of Canada, where small towns like Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise are a joy.

*I don’t find the French rude or haughty but they are proud of their beautiful country and having vacationed there I too think it’s an amazing destination. Spend time in Paris, see the Louvre and eat well, but you have to leave the City of Lights in the rearview mirror. Learn about WWII history in Normandy. Be overwhelmed by the strategy, courage and price of freedom. We first did this area alone with our kids, but later found a river cruise to be the perfect way to slow down and “hear” the story. Versailles, Mont St Michele, Carcassonne, Dijon, Lyon and the French Riviera all blew our minds. Invest some time in France and you’ll quickly understand why it’s the most popular travel destination in the world.

*If natural beauty is your thing then New Zealand should be on your travel list, but if that’s too far to travel I’ll compromise. Go fall in love with the green, green fields of Ireland. Take the Glacier Express in Switzerland, visit the Black Forest in Germany, hear the music of Austria, indulge in the Military Tattoo in Scotland or be blown away by Holland’s Kukenoff Gardens. Istanbul has the Blue Mosque, Portugal has the Douro, Mexico has Cancun, Peru has Machu Picchu, New York has Broadway… and the list goes on and on.

At the end of the day, there is no one size fits all in the world of travel, just like there is no right or wrong way to approach retirement. What works for one person may not work for another. Think of travel as if you did your job. Invest time and energy into it. As a travel agent, we can show you ways to maximize the experience, but figuring out where and what makes you happiest – now and for years to come – is a question only you can answer.

Thanks for your email . You are smart to plan ahead. I just hope that when your “one day” — you know, that retirement journey you’ve been working for — arrives, you’ll be on top of the world. Give me a call because I’d definitely love to help you enjoy the view!

Dianne Newcomer is a travel agent at Monroe Travel Service. If you need assistance with your next vacation, please call one of our experienced professionals on 318.323.3465 or email [email protected] for free world travel advice.

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