The kids are gone and thanks to retirement, you’re both free to enjoy life without waiting for the annual two-week vacation. Now the two of you are looking for ways to rekindle the romance of your early days together—and an occasional dinner out in a fancy restaurant just isn’t going to be enough.
You’re not alone. According to the AARP 2018 Travel Trends survey, in 2018 more Boomers identified relaxation and rejuvenation as their reason for travel than in 2017— 49% vs. 38%. As for those 45 and older who took a romantic getaway, another AARP report noted that of those surveyed, nearly all would do it again within the year.
Steve and Karen Thole of Cullowhee, NC are an example of a couple who has taken advantage of retirement to spend more time on the road. The couple had always been campers, dating back to when they got married, when as newlyweds, they took a three-and-a-half week, 7,500-mile cross-country tent-camping trip for their honeymoon. So when their 35th wedding anniversary rolled around, they opted to revisit many of the places they’d seen on their honeymoon, but this time making it a three-and-a-half month trip.
After that trip, they shifted from tent to teardrop, buying their first teardrop camper—a Silver Shadow. From there, they upgraded to a TAB-CS 320 and finally in 2017 their current model, the TAB 400, complete with a dinette, dedicated bed and a full bath/shower.
“These days we spend six to eight months on the road rambling across the country, usually spending only one to four nights in any given location,” said Steve, with the couple sharing their adventures on their website (www.skwhee.com/). “Currently, we are on the road with plans to visit several states in the western U.S. on this year’s Summer Ramble.”
What they want out of their experience
When it comes to “second honeymoon” trips, it’s not so much about what takes place in the bedroom as it is about having the opportunity to strengthen intimacy through communication and shared experience, noted AARP surveys. And while the majority opt for conventional travel accommodations (hotels, cruise ships or resorts), the AARP survey data shows there is a small percentage who want to skip the familiar and instead opt to take their “home” on the road. And that percentage is increasing, especially among those 55 and older, while baby boomers now represent 45% of the market share, according to a 2016 survey.
Vacationing with a camper allows the two of you the flexibility to choose when and where to stop, giving you the liberty to enjoy the journey without any check-in/check-out time constraints. And with a towable camper, you can just leave it behind at the campsite, while the two of you explore local sites in your car—certainly more convenient than driving around in a full-size motor home!
As for where to stop, many campgrounds offer a wide range of amenities and activities that you can enjoy together—or separately, if you both need a little “alone time!” Or you can opt for “experiential stops”—parking at wineries, breweries, agri-tourism sites—even casinos and military and government land sites!
But perhaps the biggest plus is the feeling of freedom that only traveling on the open road can bring. Camping provides the opportunity to be part of nature, enjoy diverse landscapes and share experiences as a couple, while getting to know each other all over again.
“Living together and traveling like this requires significant commitment, communication, and cooperation,” said Steve. “Life on the road is an amazingly intimate experience. Nothing is routine and frequent decisions are required. And the rewards are tremendous. We’re constantly learning new things, unexpectedly coming upon new adventures, and being wowed by amazing scenery.”
Journeys may end in lovers meeting, as Shakespeare wrote, but the trip itself can also bring back some of that passion and excitement to your relationship while creating memories to share.