Why You Should Take a Vacation in Retirement.

Even retirees need to get away from it all.

Active and happy senior man living to the fullest, surfing on a surfboard during his summer vacation

Regular vacations help to keep retirement exciting.(GETTY IMAGES)

I REMEMBER, BACK WHEN I was working, I once took a stay-at-home vacation. I took off a whole week to clean out the basement, fix the window frames in the garage and catch up on some yard work. I ran lots of errands and found myself spending more time than I wanted to in the grocery store.

One evening my wife and I were scheduled to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. But she got a call from a friend, and I was falling behind on my garage project, so she ended up going with her friend while I dealt with spiderwebs and sawdust in the garage. By the end of the week I was exhausted and frustrated. And that was the last time I took a stay-at-home vacation. When you stay home, it’s not really a vacation at all, because life gets in the way.

While many people imagine retirement as a permanent vacation, it isn’t. Retirement is more like a stay-at-home vacation. You’re not going to work, but you still have all your usual responsibilities, whether it’s taking care of the house and yard, doing your volunteer job or taking care of grandchildren. To really relax and take time off, you have to get away from home.

Here are five reasons to take a vacation in retirement.

A Vacation Improves Your Psychological Well-Being.

Taking time off from your normal responsibilities can help lower stress levels, especially if you spend that time with friends or loved ones. Also, when you do something adventurous or exciting – whether it’s skydiving, scuba diving or viewing the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall of China – your brain gives you a small blast of dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and personal satisfaction. In short, doing something special makes you feel good.

Vacations Make You Happier.

An adequate amount of free time, and having control over your time, is an important factor in determining how satisfied you are with your life overall. In addition, play has powerful benefits – for adults as well as children. Playing a sport or a game involves anticipation, competition, surprise and pleasure, and takes you away from your self-assessing and sometimes self-critical tendencies. No one worries about what’s going on at home when they’re horseback riding, waterskiing or playing a round of golf or bridge.

Vacations Enrich Your Relationships.

Travel Breaks Up Your Routine.

Even if you’re retired, you still have a routine. You get up in the morning, have breakfast, read the paper, go on social media, visit the gym or do your volunteer job, then eat dinner and go to bed at the same time every night. When you get away from home you break out of the familiar rhythm and attain some perspective on life. There is nothing that will make your problems seem small like watching the rolling waves at the ocean, and nothing that will give you more perspective on life than spending time with grandchildren you hardly ever see.

Trips Help the Economy.

Traveling often involves nights spent at hotels, tours booked and cruises taken. Paying for those things helps to create jobs for someone else and stimulates the overall economy. So taking a vacation doesn’t just improve your own life – it helps other people as well.

Tom Sightings is the author of “You Only Retire Once” and blogs at Sightings at 60.

Tom Sightings has been writing for U.S. News & World Report since 2013, covering finance and retirement lifestyles. He is the author of “You Only Retire Once” and produces the award-winning blog Sightings Over Sixty, which covers health, finance, retirement and other concerns of baby boomers. Also known as Tom Lashnits, he spent over 30 years as a writer and editor for a number of publishing companies in New York, including HarperCollins, Time Inc. and Reader’s Digest. He has written for magazines, newspapers, newsletters and has authored several young-adult books. He now collects Social Security, but still takes on freelance assignments and volunteers teaching in his local school system. He holds degrees from Franklin & Marshall College and New York University, and currently splits his time between the Philadelphia area and Charleston, South Carolina.

This article was originally published by U.S. News & World Report.

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