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Top Winter Travel Destinations in the U.S. for Retirees

Now that many are vaccinated and travel feels somewhat safer, you might be considering a winter getaway or a trip to see friends and family. It’s not yet clear how the Omicron variant will affect holiday travel, but with restrictions tightening again around the world, it's safe to say international trips will be tricky this season. The good news is, there are plenty of beautiful places right here at home, many of them doable on a “retired or planning to retire soon” budget. 

If you’re boostered and in good health (meaning no health factors that put you at extra risk), it might be the perfect time to explore some domestic travel spots.  

7 Winter Travel Destinations that Won’t Spoil Your Retirement Budget  

Whether it’s culture, beautiful views, or skiing you desire, there’s something for everyone on this list.

1. South Carolina

The ‘low country’ of South Carolina is known for sub-tropical beaches and marshy islands. Not to mention, the people are friendly and the food is to die for. South Carolina has mostly mild winters, in case you’re looking to escape the cold and snow. 

Wander the cobblestone streets and colonial-era houses of downtown Charleston, or hop over to Myrtle Beach for some golf. Hilton Head Island is another favorite destination for the retired community, which flocks to the area’s excellent beaches, world-class golf courses, and coastal-themed museums.

2. Arizona 

Arizona has some of the best the Southwest has to offer. In the north, you can catch winter vibes with snow-covered peaks and great skiing. While in the state’s southern parts, temperatures are mild and it’s almost always sunny. Sedona’s ancient ruins and famous energy vortexes are a perfect winter getaway for something a little different, and maybe even spiritual. After that it’s a quick, picturesque drive to Flagstaff or Scottsdale for more adventures.

3. Utah 

Utah is home to some truly stunning national parks and ski resorts. The state claims they have the best snow anywhere—a theory you can test out for yourself while snow-tubing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, fat-tire snow biking and more. 

And in case you haven’t heard, Salt Lake City is “hip” now. Downtown is packed with fun and quirky cafes, shops, and bars. For film buffs, the famous Sundance Film Festival runs January 20 – 30, 2022 (online and in person) in venues around Park City and Salt Lake City.

4. Nevada 

From the otherworldly Valley of Fire State Park to the Fey Geyser to the National Automobile Museum in Reno, there’s so much more to Nevada than Vegas! There are also plenty of ski resorts, plus countless indoor and outdoor activities on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. 

5. Southern California

Southern California is guaranteed to be a bit warmer than northern parts, and just as appealing for winter travel. It’s an easy flight to San Diego, where you can explore naval history, visit Coronado Island, see seals in La Jolla cove, or try some famous Baja fish tacos. And winter is actually the best time to visit iconic Palm Springs, which is about a two hour drive from either San Diego or L.A. 

6. Colorado 

As a Denver-based wealth management firm, we might be a tad bit biased—but there is so much to explore in Colorado! And Denver is the perfect jumping off point. If you like road trips, we’ve compiled a list of great places within a few hours’ drive from Denver. 

Been to Vail and Beaver Creek a million times? Try the Powderhorn Mountain resort, located near Colorado’s wine country and perched above the world’s largest flat-topped mountain—the perfect après-ski atmosphere.

7. New York City 

Traveler’s pro tip—NYC has some great flight and hotel deals right after the new year. The holiday lights, trees and decor at retail stores are still up in early January, making the city all the more beautiful. Fewer tourists also means the streets, as well as indoor activities like museums and theaters, will be cheaper and less crowded. Yes, it can be bitingly cold, but the festive atmosphere (and added savings) make up for it. 

Tips for Retirees Traveling During COVID-19

As always—but especially now—a little preparation goes a long way in saving you headaches and keeping more money in your retirement portfolio. A few things to keep in mind before venturing out this season:

  • Make sure your vacation plans fit into your retirement budget and your long-term financial plans
  • Check the current COVID situation for where you’re going, including all state, local and territorial travel requirements and restrictions.
  • Be prepared for last-minute changes or closures of public attractions, and know whether you’ll be required to prove vaccination status or provide a negative test.
  • It may make sense to wait until closer to your travel date to book flights, accommodation, etc. or to book flexible tickets to avoid losing your money in case the situation changes.  
  • If you do decide to travel internationally (whether for vacation or as a scouting mission for retirement abroad) you’ll need a negative COVID test one day before returning to the U.S. 

If you’re unsure how a vacation might affect your retirement plans, a financial advisor can help. They’ll assess your current financial situation, taking into account not only your vacation plans, but also your goals for retirement, to find a number that works for you. And with a fiduciary financial advisor, you can be sure you’re getting honest advice that’s in your best interest, not theirs.  

Looking to shore up your retirement plans? Our Essential Retirement Guide covers seven things you need to do before you retire - download your free copy now! 

Essential retirement guide 2021

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