Top Travel Experiences for Federal Retirees & How to Get the Best Deals

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By on July 8, 2019 in Retirement with 0 Comments

After years of service, many federal retirees start to look for interesting ways to spend their retirement years, and travel is one of the top things on their bucket list.

For those who have already been to the typical vacation spots, like the Caribbean or Florida, here is a list of some of the most unique travel experiences.

Federal retirees should also be aware that there are several companies like Vacation Deals for Feds that specialize exclusively in getting travel discounts for the government community and retirees are also eligible to take advantage of those discounts. This is unfortunately not true for hotels, which offer discounts only to those with a valid government ID. However, retired military members and veterans can still take advantage of any military rates offered through those companies.

European River Cruises

Explore Europe on a small ship shared by only 100 or so guests, dock in the center of famous towns and villages every day, and be pampered by gourmet cuisine every night.

The most popular river cruises go down the Rhine or Danube rivers, stopping in places like Amsterdam, Basel, Vienna, Linz and Budapest. But there are also cruises visiting Russia, sailing around Holland and Belgium during tulip time, or cruising through the French Alps, so there is something for every taste.

River cruises can seem pricey (with rates starting from around $2500 pp for an 8-night cruise), but they also include everything in the price – drinks, excursions, wi-fi and, in some cases even the airfare from the United States. Plus, if you are flexible, there are sometimes last-minute deals, where the price can go as low as $2000 pp. Try to go in the low season – March/April and October/November. The weather may not be as warm as the summer, but you will avoid the crowds and save hundreds of dollars.

Machu Picchu

View of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu in Peru

Travelling to the ancient Inca city is on everyone’s bucket list, but few people have the vacation time to afford a visit when they are younger. But do not think Machu Picchu is only for the young and active. While there are various tours that climb the Inca trail (tours range from 1 to 3 days and the longer ones can be grueling), less active retirees can be taken almost to the top by train or bus.

The best time to visit is during the dry season (April to October,) but you will find the lowest prices between December and March. It is probably best to combine Machu Picchu with exploring other sights in Peru to make the most of your trip.

Because reaching Machu Picchu requires a lot of planning and can be complicated, it is best to take part in an escorted tour. A typical 8-day tour will take you to the Sacred Valley, allow you to spend enough time in Cusco to get acclimated to the altitude before reaching Machu Picchu and finish off with a stay in the capital Lima. Tours start around $1000 pp during the low season.

Hawaii

While the Hawaii islands are part of the US, they are located 5-10 hours away from the mainland and, for that reason, not many people get a chance to visit them before they retire. And even then, most only stay in Oahu, where the capital city of Honolulu is located, but the best way to see the islands is on a cruise – you will stop at a different island each day and have enough time to explore the main sights of each island before sailing to the next. Plus, you will not have to worry about the notoriously high prices of food and hotels in Hawaii, since all of that will be provided on the ship.

There is one cruise ship that sails 7-day cruises around Hawaii year round, and because these cruises are in high demand, prices often go above $2000 pp. However, an even better option for retirees, who are not restrained by time limits, is to go on a one-way cruise between a West Coast city (like Los Angeles or Vancouver) and Hawaii. Those so called repositioning cruises happen a couple of times each year and are usually 10-15 days long combining 5-6 days at sea with days spent island-hopping. Some of these cruises sell for as low as $1500 pp and retirees will really appreciate their slower pace and the opportunity to meet people onboard during the sea days

Italy

River boat cruises down a river canal in Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

While many retirees have already visited Rome and Venice, there is so much more to see in Italy that you will easily need several trips to explore it all. From the Etna volcano and following in the footsteps of the Godfather in Sicily, to the tower of Pisa, the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast, the colorful villages along Cinque Terre and the amazing food and wine of Tuscany, Italy is one of the best destinations for both active travelers and those looking for a laid-back adventure. It is easily accessible by plane from most US cities, the weather is nice almost year-round, and if you go in the low season, it is very budget-friendly.

If you want to see many locations in one trip, it is best to book a guided tour and some 7-day tours start as low as $799 pp for November through March. Another option is to take a Western Mediterranean cruise that combines major Italian ports like Rome, Naples, Florence and Genoa with stops in France and Spain. Best time to go is either May or October when you can find prices as low as $799 pp for a 7-day cruise.

Wine Tours 

For those who love their wine, retirement years are the perfect time to explore famous wine regions around the world. Many companies organize escorted wine tours to various wine regions, where you will visit famous wineries, learn about the wine-making process, taste their best wines and meet like-minded people.

The most famous (and easily accessible one) is of course the Napa Valley in California, but if you want to venture outside the US, some of the best include the Route de Vins and Bordeaux in France, Hunter Valley in Australia, Alentejo in Portugal, Tuscany in Italy and the Moselle Valley in Germany.

Doing a wine tour can be pricey (7-day tours start around $2000 pp) and you can travel around some of these regions on your own, though it will require a lot of planning and accommodations in some small town may be hard to find during the high season. You can save a lot of time spent planning by taking a wine-themed river cruise – some smaller river cruise companies offer wine cruises along the Rhine, Provence or the river Duoro in Portugal, which include everything in the price of the cruise (excursions, drinks, wine tasting, food, etc).

Alaska

Natural beauty, unique experiences and the chance to see amazing wildlife are the perfect reasons why Alaska should be on the radar of any retiree.

The Alaska season is quite short (May through September) but if you are flexible with your time, you will save a lot of money by going early in the season (first few weeks of May). The weather is not much colder than June and you will avoid the crowds and maybe see some whales.

The best way to explore Alaska is on a cruise. There are two types of cruises – ones that sail round-trip from Seattle or Vancouver and those that sail one-way from Vancouver to Anchorage, allowing you to spend a few extra days in Alaska after your cruise. Combining the cruise with a 3-5 day tour afterwards is the best way to see Denali and Talkeetna National Parks, visit some famous Gold Rush sites and ride the glass-domed Wilderness Express train.

Alaska is also surprisingly affordable – cruises in the early part of the season start from around $699 pp and, if you are lucky, you can even snag a last-minute balcony cabin for a little over $1000 pp.

Taking a World Cruise

For those not familiar with the concept – World Cruises and 100+ day cruises that circumnavigate the globe stop at various ports along the way and allow you to check off many destinations on your bucket list in just one trip.

As can be expected, those cruises as extremely popular with retirees and they usually sell out more than a year in advance, and they are also not as expensive as many people think, sometimes costing you about the same as what you would spend living in an adult community.

The starting price for the entire world cruise (100+ days) is around $15,000 pp, but some cruise lines allow you to book specific chunks of the cruise (South America, Asia, Europe) that last anywhere from 20 to 45 days and are priced at under $5,000 pp. Not only are these cruises a great way to see the world without having to fly, but they are perfect for meeting new friends, because the many sea days are often filled with various onboard activities, lectures and social meets.

How Federal retirees can get the best travel deals

  • VacationDealsforFeds is a company that works exclusively with government employees and retirees to provide access to dozens of affordable escorted tours around the world as well as access to special deals on all-inclusive vacations in Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • CruiseDealsforFeds.com – like its sister company, they work with many major cruise lines to offer the best cruise deals, discounted rates and extras on hundreds of cruises each year. 
  • GovVacationRewards – sign up with your government or military ID to receive vacation credits, points towards free travel and discounts on hotels, cruises and attractions.
  • GovArm – this company offers services ranging from condominium rentals, cruises, car rentals, hotel reservations, and vacation packages for federal government employees.

© 2019 Polia Marinova. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Polia Marinova.

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About the Author

Poli Marinova is a travel blogger, avid cruiser and a federal employee spouse who is always looking for the next best vacation deal.

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