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Shake Things Up in Retirement: 10 Great Adventures

Category: Adventurous retirement

April 13, 2022 — People often say that the most memorable things in our lives are our experiences, and we believe that is really true. You have worked hard to earn your retirement, so why make it really special with some once in a lifetime experiences. Here are 10 fantastic ideas for adventurous things to do in retirement – and we bet you could come up with even more.

10 once in a lifetime adventures:

Hike on the Camino de Santiago or some other famous trail. One of the best is the Camino de Santiago in Spain and France. You hike along a path that pilgrims of St. James have been taking for centuries and stay in inns along the way. You can hike one of its many routes or just a part of one. Or, hike a section of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, or another famous trail in England or Ireland.

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0/ Photo courtesy of Manfred Zentgraf and Wikipedia.

Penguins everywhere in Antarctica

Visit every continent – or the one you would most like to go to. Generally the hardest continent to visit is Antarctica. But you can even fly there these days, avoiding the famously queasy trip across the Drake Passage. Or, go to a continent you always wanted to visit, like Africa (how about a safari!) or the take in the interesting sights of Australia.

Bryce National Park

Check out every state park in your state. Not every adventure has to be a budget buster. Every state has long lists of interesting state parks. You can camp in some, explore others, or even stop in for a hike or a picnic. For those who want to go further afield, how many National Parks can you visit? To get you psyched for that, Netflix has a new series – The National Parks.

Rent or buy an RV and spend a season it. Many retirees opt for the mobile lifestyle, living like a turtle for years on end. RVs come in all shapes and sizes, and being on the road can be a lot of fun. Betty Fitterman wrote a fascinating 5 part series about her adventures in her Class A motorcoach. Some budget minded folks even barter their services for free stays in various parks. For others, taking on board the grandchildren or friends for tours is a lot of fun.

Take the local cruise up and down the Norway coastline. Or go on an exciting cruise to a place you have always dreamed about. The Norwegian cruise from Hurtigruten goes for 12 days and stops at 34 points while sailing past 100 fjords and 1,000 mountains. Another offbeat idea is to take a tramp steamer and get to see parts of the world in a very relaxing way. Your editor’s parents took a freighter cruise in the 1970’s and had the adventure of a lifetime. Of course they also took the Trans-Siberian express too!

Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites. World Heritage Sites are unique landmarks which are geographically and historically identifiable, and have special cultural or physical significance. They are often ancient ruins, or spectacular buildings like the Taj Mahal in india. Natural sites that are in danger can be added to the list, like the Galapagos Islands off of Ecuador. At latest count there were 1,154 of them across the world, including 545 in Europe and North America. Here is a list of the sites in North America, which includes the Grand Canyon.

Goszei, from original by User:Sardon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0/

Follow Lewis and Clark. Perhaps the greatest adventure in American history was the trip taken by Lewis and Clark in 1803 at the request of President Jefferson. By river and overland, they crossed our wild continent to explore and map out water routes to the Pacific Coast. Many tour companies offer a way to follow in their footsteps and see the many wonders these 19th century explorers saw firsthand.

Anstruther, Scotland

Go see where your ancestors came from. 23 and me and, along with other companies, offer genetic testing to help identify from whence you came. That and your family history (a retirement topic that could become a career) might give you insight into the town your ancestors hailed from. What a thrill it might be to visit a cousin still living there, or see a grave or store with the family name.

Home trip to Maine

Volunteer somewhere exciting. Be a chaperone on a youth trip or go on a Habitat for Humanity build somewhere on location. This is another adventurer that will cost you hardly any money but pay off with big rewards. Your editor has done both: being with kids for a week was refreshing, and the build finally taught me how to safely use a power saw.

Learn how to play a musical instrument (or take a drawing class). Yet another adventure is to learn something new in your retirement, and this one that can be free or almost free. if you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, now is the time. Ditto for dabbling in watercolors, or learning how to speak Spanish. Learning a new skill has the advantage of exercising your brain and helping you stay young. Go for it!

Bottom line. Retirement is the time to strike out and do something radically different. Please share your adventures with your fellow members – whether it is something you want to do or have already done! Add your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Topretirements Adventurous Retirements Blog (38 posts to get you thinking!)

Posted by Admin on April 12th, 2022


  1. Very nice tips. While in Spain for “Caminho de Santiago” skip over Portugal. We will wait for you with our superb gastronomy, joy and sun.

    by Isabel — April 13, 2022

  2. I enjoyed this article. I retired in 2018 and was able to take my bucket list trip to Italy with a cruise to Greece before Covid hit. I am so grateful I got to do my dream trip while I was still an energetic new retiree. Even then, the amount of walking through ruins, stairs at the Vatican museum, climbing hills etc. was still a surprising challenge. We are definitely spoiled by ADA accessibility requirements here (and of course the ancient civilizations didn’t have lots of public bathrooms etc.). I honestly don’t think I would be up to the same trip at nearly 70 that I took at 65. Sigh.

    by Kate — April 13, 2022

  3. True enough Kate. We do have to adjust our adventures to our new capabilities! But there still plenty of exciting things to do, we just have to do them slightly differently. For example, the biggest adventure of my life was a backpacking trip with the Sierra Club in Alaska. But I know I couldn’t do that now, but I could do an easier, shorter,lighter version. Or maybe a walk like the Camino or Scottish trek with a service to carry the luggage!

    by Rick — April 14, 2022

  4. Several years ago, I visited the most isolated inhabited location in the world – Easter Island, located 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile. Was fascinated with this place as a teen, ever since reading “Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past” published in 1968 by Erich von Däniken.

    Wanted to see the incredible, mysterious moai in person. Trip of a lifetime.

    Jan Cullinane

    by Jan Cullinane — May 4, 2022

  5. There are indeed many incredible ways to enjoy our retirement. As stated, one key is to do it before age sets limits, but even with limits, just do it! Since retiring, we have taken 3 major US road trips around the West including one with month-long stays in Arizona and Colorado with a week spent wandering through the Utah national parks in between. I can no longer manage the hikes and explorations that I did even 5 – 10 years ago, but I still have a bucket list of tours (perhaps with assistance) that excite me. I’d like to take a railroad trip across Canada, tour the Lewis and Clark trail, follow the Great River Road the length of the Mississippi, play around in the Florida keys and take innumerable cruises — Alaska, various world rivers and even back to the Caribbean. I know I’ll never get it all in, but I’d sure like to try — even if I need a wheelchair. Just do it!

    by RichPB — May 4, 2022

  6. I have never done this, but Amtrack Tours sounds fantastic! I hate to drive anywhere now and this would be a great way to go on guided tours without driving!

    There are also Canadian Train Vacations too!

    by Louise — May 5, 2022

  7. I’ll be completing 45 radiation treatments for cancer tomorrow. Two days later we are off to Greece for 2 weeks. My wife has had breast cancer twice and has come through it well. In addition, we both were treated for skin cancer last year. In spite of all this, we are determined to continue to see the world for as long as we are able to do so. Next year, we are heading to Ireland again. This time to explore the places where my father’s ancestors lived. Keep on keeping on.

    by LS — May 5, 2022

  8. Yes; would really enjoy doing some of those sites & trips mentioned as found out in past couple of weeks we are not getting any younger. Problem I need to work out is that my Partner does not share my enthusiasm. The Train Trip across Canada from Coast to Coast is Number 1 & My Country gives me a Smile everyday. Taking a River Cruise on The Mississippi has a strong appeal because of it’s role in America’s History. Taking one the River Cruises in Europe would be quality.
    But getting on a Plane shortly & Flying to Toronto to see My Kid’s & Sister Ranks Very High.
    Probably will get to see MLB & the Bison’s play. So, In reality it does not get any Better!!

    by BillyBogey — May 5, 2022

  9. That final”?” was supposed to be a smiley.

    by RichPB — May 5, 2022

  10. BillBogey, yes the partner concern is very real. After 53 years together and having been so many places together, my wife and I find it more difficult to agree on our next outings. But she has a long time friend who is interested in traveling together and some places like wandering the Keys is much more my goal, so we may share some of these times apart for a bit. Me and Tonto make a great partnership. ?

    by RichPB — May 5, 2022

  11. Great article and we are getting enthused already! Love the comments and suggestions! We have been talking about a train trip to the Canadian Rockies and a Lewis and Clark trip, thanks for the ideas and the links. I hope the comments keep coming – there are eight so far and all of them have something to offer, including encouragement!

    by Jemmie — May 5, 2022

  12. My hub and I vacationed in Aruba more than 20 times during our working years. It might seem boring to some to visit the same place year after year but it was like penicillin for our brains and really rejuvenated us. The white sand, the turquoise waters, Caribbean music, a different restaurant every night and lots of rest and relaxation was heaven on earth. So different from our neck of the woods in USA. It has been many years since we visited but it is always on my mind!

    by Louise — May 6, 2022

  13. We have just decided to take a trip out west and visit many sites we always talked about, but now we are more than ready to get out. I love the idea of volunteering somewhere exciting but I’m not quite as willing and adventurous as the editor to do it far far from home, although I do envy it.

    by Alex — May 7, 2022

  14. Just Trust It!! Take it from an Old Guy whom many suggest is a PITA. Travel while you can & Enjoy!!
    Am certain the Smile will be there!!

    by BillyuBogey — May 7, 2022

  15. Alex, go and enjoy. Over the past 19 years, we have taken 3 major road trips of at least 5 weeks and 8500 miles each through and around the West starting from NC. We have enjoyed many wonderful people and places, yet have not come close to properly experiencing all that we may still get around to. We have an incredible country and great history to see. Go for it!

    by RichPB — May 8, 2022

  16. Just drove from Bakersfield CA to South Carolina! Boring!!! Boring! The only nice place on the entire trip was Flagstaff AZ!
    Route 40 takes you through the most bland monotonous scenery I have ever seen!

    Want a beautiful adventure stay East of Oklahoma


    by Ron — May 9, 2022

  17. Having driven I-40 numerous times, i can’t say that I agree that it’s especially boring. But if you want to see the countryside, in general, stay off the interstates.

    by RichPB — May 9, 2022

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