A survey commissioned by British Airways and conducted by Censuswide recently found that travel habits of parents change when their children leave home. One trend was for them to travel further afield, trying out new destinations. The survey also revealed that 63% of college students had no problem with their parents spending some of their inheritance on a vacation!
As parents, we have embraced a more engaged approach to parenting than previous generations. We spend two decades of our lives fully involved in a nurturing role and when this shifts, our lives undergo a transformation. Interestingly, the survey revealed a gender divide in what parents are looking forward to in their empty nests – men choose planning a vacation and having more sex, while women are excited for starting a new hobby, redecorating the house and of course, vacation.
Advantages of an ’emptynestcation’
Of course, as I have mentioned frequently before, every individual reacts differently when faced with an empty nest for the first time. Some find it tougher than others and it may take a while before they are interested in traveling. Travel is also perhaps more challenging if you are single but today there are many travel companies that cater for singles. For some couples, it is the perfect opportunity to take all those trips they weren’t able to take when their kids were at school. An ‘emptynestcation’ can help empty nesters to adjust to the transition and launch them into the next phase of their lives.
Empty nesters have the wonderful opportunity of traveling in off-season periods. This means they can take advantage of special promotions and reduced rates offered by many resorts and hotels during this time. They don’t have the problem of overcrowding and standing in queues that often come with traveling in season.
Cultural and palate pleasing tours
Empty nesters can also indulge themselves in ways they may not have done for years for the sake of their children. They may now be able to enjoy cultural activities like dramas, operas, dance etc. that may have bored their children to tears. A great opportunity to enjoy the arts is the Festival dei due Mondi (the Festival of Two Worlds). This is held in the months of June and July in Spolento, Italy, which is only a 90-minute train ride from Rome.
For those who enjoy gastronomic delights, a culinary tour is a must. One such tour is a Tasting Tour of the French Quarter celebrating the rich New Orleans food culture. Just about every country has tours of this kind and some include both culture and food tasting. In the Western Cape, South Africa, where I live, Taste the Cape offers great foodie tours.
There’s no better place than Paris, the City of Love, to put the romance back into a marriage after the children have left home. Couples can book into a romantic hotel and eat at one of the many fine gourmet restaurants. They shouldn’t miss one of the most romantic views in the world – from the Pont des Arts one has a panoramic view of famous Paris sights. Taking a riverboat up the Seine and under the Pont-Marie, also called ‘the bridge of lovers’, is another romantic option. A visit to Le mur des je t’aime or the Wall of Love, a beautiful mural that features the words “I Love You” inscribed in over 300 languages is sure to help rekindle romance. Located outside the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll – lovers have been meeting in these gardens for centuries.
Take a riverboat cruise
All-inclusive ocean cruises are a good option for couples of every age. For empty nesters looking for more intimate travel, it’s worth considering a cruise along the Rhine, Danube or Mosel in Europe. A riverboat is much smaller (usually 200 or less passengers) and usually offers intimate gourmet dining, cozy bars, luxury rooms, comfy book nooks and views of the river. Daily shore excursions to quaint towns along the river are part of the attraction.
Bev Sanders as an entrepreneur who offers women the opportunity to master a new skill, engage in some self-discovery and be adventurous. She took up surfing at the age of 44 and launched Las Olas Surf Safaris for Women. The company tagline is ‘we make girls out of women’. Another venture she has launched is Artista Creative Safaris for Women. Many other entrepreneurs are following suit and catering to the challenges, needs and aspirations of a major demographic group – baby boomers who are experiencing major life transitions.
If empty nesters are not quite ready to go on safari, there are plenty of other adventures they can go on that are not so extreme. A company called Breakaway Experiences in Canada offers an adventure game where couples follow clues to find a restaurant, discovering Ottawa’s sights and sounds at their own pace.
Technology and travel
Technological advances have made it possible for people to travel and live a higher quality of life as they age. Travel is not as difficult as it used to be with the option of lightweight suitcases and innovative travel accessories. Many travelers are documenting their adventures along the way because cameras are more sophisticated and easier to use than ever. Laptops give them the option of blogging as they go. Some empty nesters are even embracing full time travel as a way of life, like the Gypsy Nesters. Here are five empty nest travel blogs that are worth following: gypsynesters.com, adventuresofemptynesters.com, ouremptynest.com and talesfromtheemptynest.com and myitchytravelfeet.com. These couples travel to all kinds of places, documenting their experiences and forging the way for others to follow in their footsteps.
At http://www.emptynestravel.com the motto is ‘to inspire and simplify leaving the nest.’ This is a travel company devoted to empty nesters. Barbara Movelle is the owner of the company and she helps clients to filter through decisions such as where to go and when to book. She also deals with insurance, accurate budgeting and will tailor travels to suit specific clients.
British airways have taken note of trends indicated in the survey. They have just launched a video series called “101 ways to spend the kid’s inheritance”. They have also announced a companion offer whereby you travel for less when you purchase two tickets. This offer is valid from January 1 to May 10, 2017 and tickets must be purchased by Sept. 28 at 11:59pm EST. Visit www.britishairways.com for more information on this offer called ‘Europe on Sale’.
One of life’s biggest regrets ….
In the British Airways survey, thinking back on their lives so far, one in five boomers say that one of their biggest regrets is not traveling enough. This is corroborated by research into the lives of 1,200 older people over a 10-year period by Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell University. He found the same thing – people often regretted not traveling more when they were younger. Pillemer says “To sum up what I learned in a sentence: When your traveling days are over, you will wish you had taken one more trip.”
The empty nest phase is simply the beginning of another chapter in our life’s story – it’s up to us to make sure it’s a good one. Travel and adventure help to keep us young.