Top 5 Activities That People Dream of Doing in Retirement

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Ask five people what they think retirement means, and you might get five completely different answers.

However, the recent Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers indicates that certain hopes are universal.

The top three retirement dreams are common to baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials alike. To all three groups, concepts like “freedom,” “enjoyment” and “stress-free” are retirement ideals.

The study, from the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, was based on interviews with nearly 5,200 non-self-employed workers from all three generations.

Read on to learn the things that workers most commonly dream of doing in retirement.

5. Volunteering

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Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 26%

Volunteering doesn’t just keep you busy, it also makes your community a better place.

Maybe you could take on more responsibility in a service organization or place of worship.

Or, you might cast an even wider net, by teaching adult literacy, leading a 4-H club, becoming a master gardener, building houses with Habitat for Humanity or working at a no-kill pet shelter. The list is virtually endless.

Bonus: You’ll likely make new friends when you volunteer. You may encounter a wide range of ages, too, rather than being stuck with your own demographic.

4. Working

Senior mailing package
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Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 30%

Some 13 million Americans age 65 or older are projected to be in the workforce by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s not surprising: Among other advantages, continuing to work lets you set more money aside for retirement and delay dipping into your 401(k).

Some 30% in the Transamerica survey said they dream of continuing to work when they retire, in such endeavors as starting a business, trying out an “encore” career (entering a new line of work) or continuing to work in their chosen field.

Hot tips on cool jobs: See “9 Employers and Job Resources to Pursue as an Older Worker.”

3. Pursuing hobbies

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Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 48%

The word “hobby” covers a broad range of activities –- indoor or outdoor, solo or group-based, intellectual, athletic or just pure fun.

Some hobbies (yoga, tai chi, swimming) can reduce physical pain and help you relax.

Geocaching, hiking and birdwatching get you outdoors and are accessible to people of varying energy levels.

A book club gets you reading and discussing. Writing (memoir, poetry, essays or even letters to the editor) lets you share your thoughts with the world. Joining a chess, bridge or Scrabble club keeps your brain synapses firing.

More: Could you turn your post-retirement hobby into a moneymaker? Learn more at “25 Hobbies You Can Turn Into a Business.”

2. Spending more time with loved ones

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Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 57%

Retirement means your visits with loved ones will no longer be limited to the vacation time offered by your company.

Now, you can drive or fly to see family or friends near and far. You can invite them to visit you, too, since you’ll have the time to be a gracious host.

Do your grandchildren live nearby? You might find great joy in babysitting either part- or full-time, thereby helping your grown kids without busting your own budget. Even simply being available for school holidays or as fill-in child care when a child is sick can be a huge help.

Pro tip: Don’t rely on loved ones to fill all of your socialization and emotional needs. They have lives, too. Keep busy in a variety of ways, including those hobbies, volunteer hours or that encore career or part-time gig.

1. Traveling

Senior happy couple
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Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 67%

Maybe the last time you were in Europe you carried a backpack, stayed in hostels and hiked everywhere you went.

These days you might want less physical strain and more travel amenities. (Boy, does the cruise industry want to hear from you.)

Not that all travel must be on a giant boat. For example, the organization Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) creates “learning adventures” via trips all over the world, including in the United States. Another intriguing option: The international cultural exchange nonprofit group Servas fosters an affordable “work-study travel system” of travelers and hosts.

Want to plan your own trip? Start by looking for senior discounts on hotel stays, cruise vacations and rental cars.

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