Everyone has their “big dream,” that once-in-a-lifetime experience about which they daydream and are willing to wait for the perfect time to see it come to fruition. It looks a little different for everyone - a hot air balloon ride over the French countryside, a gourmet tour of Southeast Asia, a long sea voyage aboard a chartered luxury yacht, a national park road trip across the entire United States (Alaska included), or the opportunity to take a masterclass from an artist you’ve admired for years.
For many, the big dream is their ultimate goal for retirement, a long-term reward to collect at the end of a successful career and financial plan.
Whether your dream is near or far from home, a solo trip or a celebration with the whole family, your preparations can begin right now. A beautiful memory will last a lifetime, and your financial professional is here to help fit that dream into your retirement plan and, before you know it, onto your calendar.
Do Your Research
To bring a big dream to reality, you’ll need to build your foundation not only on desires, but also practical expectations. Thorough research on possible risks, clearly defined locations for pit stops and destinations, as well as minimum and maximum costs can prevent last-minute disappointments and unforeseen circumstances.
As an example, let's say you'd like to take your closest friends and loved ones on a private yacht cruise to the Caribbean. From where might you want to embark? Depending on the time of year, a two-week yacht tour starting in New York City, touring the Caribbean, and ending in Ft. Lauderdale may cost about $10,000 per person. You would also need to factor in plane or train fare for each member of the party to get to New York, and to get home from Florida.1
Doing your research can help you focus and begin to get some numbers in your head, but don’t stop letting your imagination wander. This can also be a chance to think bigger, discover possibilities you didn’t even know existed - perhaps that two-week yacht tour includes a stop for scuba diving, something you would never think to try before, but now that it’s an option, you’re jumping at the idea. And while the stop is built into the tour, the diving and rental gear adds a small but noticeable amount to the overall cost, which you’ll need to keep in mind when you and your financial professional craft your long-term plans.
Get Your Timing Right
Certainly, the temptation to go all-out the day after your retirement officially begins is almost overwhelming, but depending on your financial and personal circumstances, it may be in your best interest to delay your big dream experience by months, a year, or several years into your retirement life.
While creating your retirement plan, hopefully with the assistance of your financial professional, you may discover that the time of year that is best to maximize your savings, begin drawing benefits, or even simply help your employer with the transition of your job, is the time of year that is worst to take your ultimate trip.
In the example of the Caribbean yacht trip - tropical parts of the world are known for sunshine. Yet, you may find one season less expensive. Is that because that's when it rains, nonstop?
Make sure you're looking at the right time of year and planning around the best weather and cultural circumstances. The end of the year contains several holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Years, meaning a noticeable and potentially time-consuming increase in traffic on major highways and difficulty of finding cheap, available accommodations.
You may face similar challenges in the summer, due to school breaks, but on the other hand, that may make it a better time for you, because of school-age children if your dream includes your family, and/or many more outdoor events to enjoy versus less favorable seasons.2
Plan for a Change in Plans
No one wants to focus on the idea of tragedy or unpleasant circumstances on their vacation, but no matter how long and thorough your research, you should always bear in mind that you cannot expect everything. As previously mentioned, you should look into potential risks inherent to the location or activities of your big dream.
Whether yours has many or few, it is always wise to consider travel insurance and the coverage of the health insurance you will have at the time of the trip, so that in the moment, you can simply enjoy the experience.
At the same time, “the unexpected” may be something positive! Perhaps that scuba diving opportunity did not show up in your research, but is announced by your tour guide and rental fees are required upfront. Maybe you pass a pricey shop you simply have to stop into, or even decide you’re enjoying yourself so much that you want to stay an extra week.
If you’ve taken the necessary steps to prepare, setting aside a sizeable cushion of “fun money” that’s separate from your emergency fund and daily retired life fund, you’ll have the flexibility to indulge that spur-of-the-moment whim and, perhaps, create a memory or take home a souvenir that will allow you to revisit your big dream for the rest of your life.
Preparing at Home
Not all preparations involve staring at a calendar or calculator, especially if your big dream involves traveling overseas. You will need to double check your vaccination records and ask a medical professional about any extra shots you may need for your specific destination, as well as any precautions they recommend.
Whether or not you speak the languages you may encounter on an overseas trip, it can be helpful to brush up or learn some basic phrases. There are a wide variety of language-learning apps that can simplify and game-ify this process. If your children or grandchildren are coming along, you can even make it a fun activity for the whole family, practicing the phrases together.
Who Can Help?
A "once-in-a-lifetime" experience is something worth doing well. While you are making wise financial choices to set yourself up for the best day-to-day lifestyle throughout retirement and leave a charitable legacy for your family’s comfort, it is important to remember that your wealth also exists to be enjoyed. Money can be a means to something greater, and as they say, you can't take it with you.
Now is your chance to mention your big dream, the next time you and your financial professional are reviewing your retirement plan. Depending on what you have in mind, they will have the necessary knowledge to determine how well these costs fit into your existing plan and how much restructuring will need to be done. They may even have some resources that can help make it that much more achievable.
With the funds securely in place and all of your bases covered, you'll be able to focus on your amazing experience and not worry about anything else. With some determination, preparation, and willingness to explore, you can manifest a lifelong dream into reality and enjoy the beautiful memories for years to come.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.