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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 141 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by ASTRAEA

   I agree with you on most of your points. You may want to look at their catalog and see if you might be interested in some of their shorter programs that are more 'learning intensive', as opposed to group travel for longer periods. They do, or did, a lot of weekend seminar kinds of things where you have a teacher/speaker on a subject area. 

   I've not looked at their offerings for about a year, so I may be behind a bit.

   I understand your issues with travel. There really is not a large group, I'm sure you realize, of us that are 'tweeners' as far as early retirees that have the financial means to travel.

  There are even fewer of 'us' with the 'recent unpleasantness' and people losing their nest eggs, unable to sell a house, etc. And physically, few people are in shape and those group tours can be so slow. We find that in basic ranger walks where people are pooping out after a mile.

   I wish I had answers for you --- we like to travel so much. We'll be hitting DC/ Williamsburg in another month and we go out for 12 hour days. We'll go to a museum for several hours, do lunch, then do architectural walks for several hours, then hit the monuments or the free concerts at the Kennedy Center in the evening. A 'group' would quit after 4-5 hours.    

  

   


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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 142 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by kom2010

   Good posting on Road Scholar.

I've eyed these programs for at least 15 years, and look at their listings online (in the old days, those really big catalogs I could get in the library), but have not used them (yet).

    They used to do many more programs where you would stay in college dorm rooms, during the summer, which made the programs a better bargain (depending on your proclivities). That was more in keeping with the 'elderhostel' name. They're more upscale now.

   It's far less expensive for us to travel in our little camper and have free ranger-led walks or campground talks in the national parks, but we may do some of the programs in the future for which we have a special interest and would like an informative guide.  


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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 143 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by kom2010

 

Interesting post. I agree with what you posted.

 

We do not look at the programs as tours. They are to educate. Most of the programs are of little interest to us so finding things we want to learn about is not easy.

 

We have liked the three programs we have attended.

 

 

 

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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 144 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by kom2010

I can relate to a lot of what you posted .. and thanks for all of the details about Road Scholar! I’ve never liked overscheduled tours, where the goal seemed to be checking off as many places as possible .. even if that meant spending a greater % of time in transit, or only seeing the best known sights. Question – do they check whether people are “educated”, or do you just assume that others wouldn’t be that interested in more cultured tours?

 

I think that most tours have to be a little regimented, to hit certain locations within a time period, but better tours give you a little more “free time”, and have a little more flexibility, so you don’t feel like it’s “boot camp”. The tours I remember had us hitting sights & being on the road until about 2 PM, then having the rest of the day to ourselves in town, unless we had a special evening event/dinner together.

 

During a really nice tour of the British Isles, we stopped for lunch regularly in small towns with limited restaurant options, and were expected to be satisfied with pre-arranged lunches. I wouldn’t sign up for anything like that again! I don’t take long to select from a menu, or dawdle while eating, so no way would I be willing to eat a dry meat sandwich every day, and not be able to get a nice salad or choice of hot food! I don’t have too much trouble with timing, but “choice” is really important to me! I don’t think I’d like a “bag lunch”, unless there wasn’t any restaurant for hundreds of miles .. salads don’t do well in “bags” (LOL) 

 

I’m not a “foodie”, but if I do want to experience the local cuisine, and avoid homogenized restaurant chains. If everything’s going to be “just like home”, for the people who like that .. I might as well just stay home, and save a lot of money! I’ve had this conversation with people in my tour group in France, where they complained that they couldn’t get all the typical American breakfast foods .. and I just said, “Well then it wouldn’t be French, would it?!”

 

Your item #3 is really important to me, and why I created a “Younger Retirees” Group here! Even moreso because I’m single, I would like to meet others closer to me in age .. say between 50 and late 60s. I’ve been on tours where most of the people are in their 70s, and while they’re really nice, I don’t see us becoming best buddies. While I’m not at all “self indulgent”, and wouldn’t bring any electronics on vacation with me, I would like to try things a 70-something might find too strenuous, and be able to talk about the shared experiences of being a boomer.


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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 145 of 158

Three of our six trips in 2010 were Elderhostel, which is now properly known as Road Scholar (Elderhostel remains the holding company) at www.roadscholar.org.

There are advantages and disadvantages, like anything else.

Pros:

1) They try to present an interesting learning experience, so it's not just "check this next tourist attraction off your list".

2) Include all ground transportation, hotel, and most of your meal costs.

3) Interesting, active, educated people as your traveling companions

4) May include attractions you wouldn't think of on your own, but could turn out to be enjoyable.

OTOH, there are definite Cons:

1) Fairly strict scheduling. They are shepherding groups around, and need to be places at close to the specified times.

If you like wandering around and the thrill of serendipitous exploration, that won't work. If you miss the bus back to the hotel, you're on your own - and not all places you're in have taxis. There's always free time, but it's limited to a few hours of one or two days.

You can always drop out of group activities and go off on your own. But in that case, why use Road Scholar at all? You're already arranging your own airfare and transport to/from the hotel, so you might as well go a step further and arrange your whole trip using Expedia and TravelAdvisor without the hassles of standing in line to get on and off buses like little kids on a field trip.

Another issue is that DH and I don't enjoy getting out early in the morning, every morning. For example, I adore a good breakfast and would go out five times a week for one - cooking a great breakfast is as time-consuming and messy as making a fine dinner. But I don't want to eat at 8a. Our ideal breakfast time is 10:30 or 11 a.m., where we alternate between eating a breakfast or having lunch. With a tour you have no choice, because you've got activities in the morning, then lunch, then more activities, then dinner. After a week of this, it was a real relief to get back home to our usual schedule of two meals a day. When I arrange our own trips, the timing is much more relaxed and to our preference.

2) The hotels Road Scholar uses are comfortable - the rooms and suites have been spacious and quite nice, not luxury but definitely not low-end. But in more expensive areas like ours, breakfast in Napa was a step below McDonald's, consisting of prepackaged breakfast wraps, cheap commercial breads and muffins, Yoplait yoghurt, etc. - think Holiday Inn Express. Breakfast in Santa Cruz at the Buddhist monastery was vegetarian/vegan (as were all meals). In comparison, all three New Mexico hotels with Road Scholar offered full service, hot food breakfast buffet made on-premises.

Lunch is either sit-down or if "on the road", a nice but basic bag lunch. Dinner is sometimes at the hotel, sometimes at a local restaurant. Either way, we have found the food very 'middle America'. It's good, but not great, because Road Scholar's on a strict budget. And most of their travelers are the Denny's/Olive Garden/Fresh Choice crowd.

And to us this is a HUGE issue. As I have said before, we are foodies - really, really serious foodies. In New Mexico, we were taken to restaurants that were decent, but not exceptional. We love spicy food, but most people in the group didn't (see below for the reason). As a result, to us the NM food we were given was bland and boring. We couldn't even get the waiters to bring us any hot salsa to liven it up. You'd think there wasn't a jalapeno in the state, let alone any habanero or bird's eye chiles!

So the best meal we had in New Mexico was the evening we went off on our own, where I had made reservations for a fabulous little French bistro off Santa Fe's town square that was raved about on OpenTable and Yelp. Unfortunately, that meant we missed that evening's entertainment, but c'est la vie.

3) We are in our late 50's and Boomers are just starting to retire. On two of the three Road Scholar trips, we were by far the youngest people in the group. Now, we loved meeting all of these people, they were great. Three friends from Canada that travel together were all in their late 70's, and they could out-hike and outlast us all up and down the NM mountains! They had great stories to tell. But if you're a Boomer, you're going to be in the tiny minority unless you like hanging around with your parents' friends all day, every day.

We observed, from our limited experience of three trips, a real difference in how the Boomers and the WWII generation spend money. We are far more self-indulgent, with higher-end tastes. We're not the Twitter/Facebook-obsessed Millennials, but we use Blackberries and IM, can rip MP3s off our old CDs, and are happy to eat foods that our parents' generation thought were exotic or just plain 'weird'.

Summing it up, we enjoyed our Road Scholar trips - I wish, sincerely, we'd used them for our Alaskan cruise, I think we would have had a much better experience than we did. Using RS was a fun way to do things we wouldn't normally do, and it's good to 'stretch your boundaries' a little.

But there are disadvantages to them, too. Most trips they offer aren't of interest to us. We aren't birders, or golfers, or really serious hikers. I'll watch musical films, but DH loathes them, and neither one of us is interested in Greek or Jewish history (the paucity of programs in Northern CA is astounding).

We were fortunate to take our trips in 2010, and the groups for all three tours was very small due to the economy. The guides said that usually, there are twice as many people - 40 or so, instead of the 17-21 people we experienced. Everybody, including people who had been on dozens of RS trips, agreed that smaller groups are much more enjoyable. But this isn't something you have a choice about: you can't say to RS, "well, if 37 people sign up, I want outta here and my money back." Tours don't work that way!

And no, I don't want to get into the tour guide business, thanks. I spent literally hundreds of hours on the Pacific NW trip we took on our own for more than five weeks, and it was a huge success, a terrific trip. A couple joined us for a week in Seattle, so I included them in the arrangements (except for flights). A tour guide has to enjoy doing the same thing over and over again, which I - and most people, I suspect - don't.

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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 146 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by KidBoy2

I knew that Elderhostels had "programs" as well as accommodations, but I thought the fact that they included the word "hostel" in it, meant that the accommodations were closer to "hostels" than hotels .. more basic. Is that not the case?


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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 147 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by ASTRAEA

 

I do not think you know that Elerhostel is not hostels.  Elderhostel has educational programs for seniors and there are programs available world wide.

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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 148 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by KidBoy2

Sorry; I didn't notice that .. usually rates are per night. Big difference!


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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 149 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by ASTRAEA

 

3 nights
4 days I guess you missed that. 

 

It also includes meals and education.

 

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RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement?

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Message 150 of 158

In Response to RE: How much do you need for a comfortable retirement? by KidBoy2

I must be missing something .. aren't hostels/elder hostels kind of "spartan" accommodations? This one in Van Nuys, CA charges $565/day for a single?! Is that supposed to be a bargain?


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