You probably have your ideas about what you want your retirement to look like, even if you're not yet sure how you're going to get there. Some people want complete freedom to do what they want, including spending time on hobbies, while others are ready for a more relaxed lifestyle but aren't planning to exit the workforce for good. You might have it all mapped out, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans.
If your retirement plan included traveling or working a part-time job, you might be disappointed. While many retirees cited travel and part-time work in their goals for retirement, a smaller percentage of these retirees actually reported doing those things, according to a study from the Empower Institute.
That doesn't mean it won't happen for you. It just means you can't bank on being lucky. If you're serious about traveling or continuing to work in some capacity in your retirement, you need to start planning for it right now.
How to prepare for retirement travel
There are many possible reasons your retirement travel plans could go awry. You might not be able to save as much as you'd expected, leaving you unable to afford to travel. Or you or a family member could get sick, and you might not be able to go even if you want to. You can't control all of these variables, but you can reduce your risk somewhat by planning financially and making your health a priority.
You need a plan for where you'd like to travel in order to begin estimating the cost of your retirement travel expenses. Make a list of all the places you think you might like to go, including estimates of how long you'd like to spend in each place. Include estimates for airfare, hotel stays, food, events, rental cars, souvenirs, and any other expenses you plan to have on your trip. Then, build in an extra cushion for emergencies or in case the cost of travel goes up. Add these costs to your retirement budget.
For your financial security, you should always run the numbers before you take a trip in retirement, even if you think you have enough. If you're using more of your savings on your everyday expenses than you anticipated, you might have to skip some of your travel plans, but that's better than running out of money prematurely.
You also need to focus on keeping yourself in good shape so that you are physically able to travel. That means eating right, exercising regularly, and finding healthy ways to handle stress. Take advantage of any free health screenings your insurance company offers to help you stay in good health and identify areas for improvement. Encourage your spouse and other members of your household to do the same.
How to prepare for a part-time job
An injury or illness could also disrupt your plans for a part-time job, even if it doesn't happen to you. If a loved one gets sick or injured, you might have to step back from the workforce to care for them. You could also run into problems if your company goes under or lays off workers.
Keeping yourself healthy is important for ensuring you can work as long as you'd like to, but you also have to keep your job skills up to date. This means staying abreast of changes in your industry and furthering your education if you plan to stay in your chosen field so that your company will see you as an asset it wants to keep around.
If your current job won't allow you to work part time, you might have to seek out another company in your field that will, or switch careers entirely. Think about what you might want to do and which jobs best align with the skills you already have. You'll also have to compare the pay for these other jobs to decide if they're worth it to you.
Starting your own business is another option if you can't find a traditional part-time job. If you've always had a business idea in mind, start laying the groundwork for that now. Identify your product or service and your target audience, and create a list of business goals to help you get your company off the ground. If all goes well, this could turn into a full-time business or enable you to retire earlier than you planned.
You can have a perfect vision of retirement, but it probably won't happen without planning, and the sooner you get started, the easier it is to make small adjustments to keep yourself on track.