Monday, April 24, 2006

What not to do on your Summer Vacation!

Just in time to get everyone excited about the summer family vacation season, the movie “RV” comes to town .

Poor Bob Munro (Robin Williams) is just trying to get some family bonding time with the kids before they grow up and are gone. But, like many families, he dives into the preparations without a clear vision of the task – especially tackling an RV without some guidance (or apparently, common sense!).

RV trips are great for family bonding, whether you are an experienced RVer or just starting out. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has lots of great ideas and help at their site . If only the Munros had known about this source of information. Whether you need a CD on the basics or a list of campgrounds to get you started, RVIA can help you avoid the pitfalls that the Munros suffered.

According to RVIA, there are over 30 million RV enthusiasts in the country, with over 8 million owning an RV. Who is the most RVing age group? The baby boomers, of course, with over 9% of them owning RVs. Today’s typical RV owner is 49 years old, married, with an annual household income of $68,000 – much like the family in the movie. Whether you want to rent an RV like the Munros did, or are looking to purchase one, there is something for every budget with purchases starting at under $10,000.

Once you’ve gotten your vehicle lined up, you’ll surely need some additional tips and hints to make your vacation enjoyable. Phil and Carol White share lots of tips for road trippers on their website, . The website has a television clip of them sharing their experiences, a complete budget worksheet (.xls format) for both long and short trips, information on their award-winning book, “Live Your Road Trip Dream” and much more.

Carol offers some tips for your family summer vacation.

· Instead of springing the trip on your family like Bob Munro did, enlist their help in the planning. Almost every age can help – plan out your route, mark the maps, gather information on the internet, get a travel guide or two, plan your meals – these are all things that the whole family can get involved in.
· Don’t over plan your trip. Be sure to leave room in your itinerary for spontaneous adventures – or problems along the way. A little planning goes a long way. Too much planning kills to joy of exploration.
· Consider leaving the electronics at home. Pack the games, sports equipment and hiking maps instead. Families spend so much time in solitary pursuits today, like personal music devices, DVRs, computers, game systems, and more – why not leave them home and explore other options on your vacation.
· If you are taking teenagers along, give them each the responsibility to be in charge of one day of the vacation. They get plan the meals (hold your breath!), be the tour guide on the activities, deal with tickets, money, transportation and other things that crop up during the day. A great experience for them.

So don’t let the hapless adventures of the Munro family scare you off. Do some homework, get everyone involved, and take off on your own adventure and bring back memories to last a lifetime.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Boomers afraid of retirement?

As we have spoken to people, an interesting thing has happened. Our message has really expanded to encompass the whole “reinventing retirement” or “phase II life” issues. As everything in the boomers lives, they are changing the face of retirement.

A Del Webb study a couple of years ago uncovered that 45% of boomers say that travel will be their #1 expenditure in retirement, and travel related companies are getting ready for the boomers. ElderHostel has started a new program called Road Scholars that is targeted squarely at the more adventurous, independent and wealthier boomers. The cruise industry is including things like climbing walls on their ships and planning shore excursions that include hiking, biking, kayaking and other more adventurous options. The internet has spawned a whole group of sites that have trip planning help (like us!) to assist those independent research-oriented boomers to “do-it-yourself.”

What we are finding is that there is a whole group of boomers who are actually AFRAID of retirement – they say they will never retire, or not until they are “old” – because they can’t conceive of our parents retirement – golf and the rocking chair! Well, quite frankly, neither can we. What we advocate is to find your second life. Planning a long trip like we did, is only the beginning, and a great way to help figure out what your “phase II” plan might include.

Boomers are intent on giving meaning to their lives, and up until now, work has been that primary identity, and many are unsure what else there is, so they just plan to continue doing what they are doing. We believe there is a whole new set of experiences to be explored in the second half of our life. If you have thoughts to add to the conversation, please send them along.