Many of us never lose the urge to be out on the open road. Even in the dead of winter, we’re looking for places to set up camp and enjoy the splendor of nature. Senior road warriors, those lucky folks with the flexibility to travel on “retirement time,” can make the most of cold weather season with RV trips to warmer climates, but it may take a bit more planning than it used to.
These suggested warm weather destinations for senior travelers can help get the RV rolling down the road. Add in our tips for safe and sane senior travel and you’ve got the perfect winter vacation.
Gulf State Park: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf State Park offers seniors the opportunity to explore Alabama’s Gulf Coast while enjoying a large, modern campground or comfortable cabin. Located a little over a mile from white sand beaches, the campground offers senior travelers a 15 percent discount from November to February. With average temps in the 60s and high 50s, it’s a bit cooler than some warm weather destinations, but it’s still a popular place, so be sure to make reservations before you go.
Pack the bikes or hiking shoes and take advantage of the Branyon Backcountry Trail that winds for miles through the area. Other ideas for outdoor recreation: fishing Lake Shelby or enjoying saltwater fishing from the park’s large pier, golfing at Refuge Golf Club or strolling the park’s nearly four miles of beaches.
Tip: Break up the drive and enjoy the ride. Marathon days of travel can leave you too tired to enjoy your destination and make it harder to drive safely. Breaking up the drive into smaller chunks keeps drivers alert and the trip more enjoyable for everyone.
Henderson Beach State Park: Destin, Florida
Take a trip to Florida’s Emerald Coast on the Gulf of Mexico and you’ll find white sand beaches, emerald green water and a state park where you can camp among the dunes. Henderson Beach State Park, near the town of Destin, features boardwalk access to the beach and a nature trail through coastal scrub habitat. It’s close enough to Destin to enjoy shopping and restaurants but secluded enough to offer visitors peace and quiet.
Tip: Before you leave for your trip, be sure to make a record of your daily medications, emergency contacts, physician, insurance, and allergy information. You can do this easily with tools such as the My Medications App from the American Medical Association. In the event of an accident or illness while on vacation, first responders or traveling companions will have life-saving information literally at their fingertips.
Point Mogu State Park: Malibu, CA
Hoping to visit both mountain and shore this winter? Point Mogu State Park, off Hwy. 1 near Malibu, California is the perfect spot to enjoy both. Senior travelers will find the Sycamore Canyon campground comfortable and conveniently close to beaches and trailheads.
Active seniors, in particular, will appreciate the more than 70 miles of trails. Favorite jaunts on foot include Danielson Road and the trails in Sycamore Canyon. Be sure to visit the beach at least once—you might just see gray whales passing by in winter.
Tip: If you’re planning to hike (or take day trips to museums and other attractions) take along a lightweight cross-body bag or backpack with interior compartments for your essentials. It will keep the weight off your shoulders, allow better balance while walking and leave your hands free.
We truly never stop learning when we’re willing to explore beyond our everyday lives. Choose a destination that suits your interests and physical abilities and then do a little planning to keep your trip safe and sane. Whether it’s camping in a 40-foot motorhome or relaxing in a luxury resort, traveling in the golden years can expand our horizons in unexpected ways.
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors. He is also actively involved in numerous campground associations, including RVIA's Go RV'ing committee, as well as travel industry associations.