So here are a few fab travel ideas that take advantage of your wealth of time, and cater to both a wealth, and a relative paucity, of resources.
Time spent in the bush watching animals and birds is time well spent indeed, and SANParks offers discounts of between 20% and 40% to South African pensioners during the week in non-peak periods – usually school terms. For this year, it’s applicable from 20 August to 20 September, and 10 October to 29 November. Check the website for next year, but it’s likely to be from mid-January to mid-March, and from early May to mid- June. www.sanparks.co.za, www.wildcard.co.za
One advantage of scaling down from a big family home to a convenient lock-up-and-go is that you can invest some of the balance in a fabulous caravan or camper home. We’re not talking about the cramped leaky things you may remember from your childhood. Modern campers have all the mod cons – full-sized double beds, sink, toilet, shower, microwave, stove, TV, you name it.
You can hit the road and spend the winter somewhere warm, like the South Coast or the Lowveld.
Some resorts, such as Phalaborwa Safari Park, for example, offer very reasonable monthly camping rates for the winter months. And it’s just a few hundred metres from the gate into Kruger. Tie this in with a wild card, and you’re smiling. If you don’t want to spend half the year in a camper, you can rent one instead of buying. www.vistamotorhomes.co.za, www.bobocampers.co.za
There are some fabulous cruise destinations both near and far. You can do a short hop to Mozambique from Durban, a longer adventure to the Indian Ocean islands, or fly somewhere exotic and do a cruise somewhere new – the Scandinavian fjords, Alaska, Antarctica, the Caribbean, the Med or Galapagos. Expect comfortable accommodation, awesome food, stunning scenery, great shore excursions and lots of on-board activities ranging from spa pampering to movies, live performances, games and enlightening lectures and discussions about the area you’re visiting. And, of course, a lot of time chilling in a deck chair around the pool with a pretty drink garnished with an umbrella and half a pineapple.
Stretch those rands
You can get really good bargains if you wait for last- minute deals. The most perishable item on the market is not that soft avo at Woolies, it’s a hotel bed all made up and unbooked at six in the evening. So, if you’re doing a road trip, don’t be shy. Ask. Also investigate pensioner specials.
You spent years creating a home, bringing up a family and/or building a career. Now you’re free of all those responsibilities, but you don’t feel ready to be ‘put out to pasture’. That’s why so many people discover fabulous second careers in their later lives, or why they discover travel with a purpose. There are so many great travel options, such as doing voluntary work in interesting places, backpacking, or travelling somewhere to learn or teach – and the strange thing is that, traditionally, all these things have been lumped together as ‘youth tourism’. Until, that is, someone actually bothered to look, and noticed that a large percentage of backpackers and long-term travellers have grey hair – or no hair. It’s the grown-up version of a gap year.
There are great organisations like Workaway where you can spend anything from a few days to a few months staying on farms, in homes or in communities doing ‘jobs’ like building, decorating, gardening, fruit picking, cooking, accounting, child minding or animal care in exchange for accommodation and food. Wwooffing is similar, except that it is only on organic (or near organic) farms. If you think this sounds like something you should do when you’re younger, think again.
This February’s Workawayer of the Month is Daniel – a venerable greybeard who sold his house and car after 52 years of regular employment, and has been travelling the world for nearly two years. He says that some hosts specifically choose him for the grey hair on his profile pic, as it indicates a certain maturity and experience. Well, duh!
Another way to keep travelling for quite a while is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). If you can read this article with ease, you’re halfway to a TESOL qualification. It’s a great way to integrate into a community for a few months, to meet the people who actually live there and to offset your travel costs. You won’t get rich doing it, but you may break even – and that’s a good thing, because then you can carry on doing this for a long, long time, spending a few months in a chosen destination before moving on. Become a vagabond. www.workaway.info, www.wwoof.net, www.tesol.co.za
You have two fabulous assets – lots of time and a lovely home – so use Home swapping is a great way to live like a local in what could be a very expensive destination for an extended period without breaking the bank – and you don’t need to pay a house sitter, either. It’s really simple. It’s literally swapping houses – and usually cars – for a few weeks or a month. You could probably swap your house on a lovely coastal, wildlife or golf estate for a home in New York, Paris, Berlin or London, and splurge on theatre, shopping and restaurants, or a beach house in Cypress or Seychelles. Or, hey, another golf estate with a different course. www.homeexchange.com, www.lovehomeswap.com