Low-Cost Travel Ideas for Empty Nesters

Now that all your children have finally grown up and moved out of the house, you finally have your freedom restored to go where you want when you want.

While saving for family vacations once entailed accounting for all members of the household, travel as an empty nester means you or you and your spouse can travel for less money. The empty nest time is a great time to expand your horizons when you no longer have to host or attend PTA dinners or help with homework. Instead, give yourself the gift of exploring parts of the world you could not have considered while also raising a family.

Many of the most exotic locations to visit are not nearly as expensive as they may seem, especially on the offseason when sales and special deals are abundant. In many cases, your plane tickets are your biggest travel expense, once you arrive, the costs of food, accommodations and experiences are all comparatively low. Join a frequent flyer program and keep flying with the same airline and you can minimize even that top travel expense. Plus, the U.S. dollar can buy you more and last you longer in so many bucket list destinations.

African Safari

You never know what you will see on an African safari, but you can be sure it will include abundant exotic species of animals you may never have seen before and may never see again. Tour open plains and dense forests and observe animals up close in person like the following:

  • Antelopes
  • Elephants
  • Giraffes
  • Hippopotamus
  • Monkey
  • Zebras

In between expeditions, experience the mighty waterfalls throughout Africa and witness unparalleled sunsets.


Explore peaceful temples and rich rice fields inland and sunsets over the Indian Ocean along the shore. In addition to the freedom to enjoy the exotic atmosphere at your own pace without children to keep entertained, many accommodations in the area also provide the luxury of a private butler to serve your every need. Enjoy swimming pools, spas and local marketplaces.


There is so much to see both old and new in Monaco, from the pristine harbor to winding city streets to the sites of some of the most celebrated films and moments. For example, visit the location where actress Grace Kelly married a prince and became Princess Grace or the historic Monte Carlo Casino where many James Bond scenes were filmed.

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In this tiny but rich Mediterranean country set between Italy and France, you can walk meandering streets viewing exquisite architecture and shopping world-renowned fashion boutiques. Scale the famed Rock and take a tour of the Princes Palace, snack on fresh gelato and toast with champagne while enjoying the immaculate views of the Mediterranean.

Nile Cruise

While other travelers are cruising tropical ocean waters like in the Caribbean, consider exploring Ancient Egypt by water with a riverboat cruise down the Nile. See the Great Pyramids at Giza, the Sphinx the temples at Edfu, Karnak, Luxor and more, all in a way most visitors could never imagine. Sail down the Nile and view King Tut’s burial site, the Valley of Kings, and the preserved remnants of ancient Egyptian civilizations millennia old.

Panama Off-Grid

One way to see the Caribbean that truly lets you immerse yourself in the experience is by doing it off-grid. Turn the phones off and shut out the world for a spell as you stay on a remote island and explore the area from a sailboat in Central America’s southernmost country.

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Travel to and from the area is particularly easy, with more direct U.S. flights to and from Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport than any other airport in the Caribbean. Best of all, you do not even need to change currencies to visit, as the U.S. dollar is the local currency.

Provence France

Explore restored medieval villages amid lush landscapes of forests, rolling hills and prolific fields in this historic region that has still managed to retain its old world charm. Provence is known as a wine production center of the world, and you could spend an entire visit simply touring local grape plantations and wineries. Stroll cobblestone streets, take a mountainside drive or take a short hiking to the Roman aqueduct and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pont du Gard or the Southern France Roman outpost, Nimes. Along the way, you can pass through a combination of rich gardens, modern cities and ancient structures like the famed Arena.

Southern Utah Hike

Children might not be cut out for long hiking treks, much less interested in the adventure. With them out of the house, you and your mate can finally break out the hiking boots and stroll through some of the most exquisite and untouched lands in America. Southern Utah is replete with canyons, arches, red rocks, deserts and cliffs all open to exploring by foot. Experience the surreal, alien-like landscape of the areas many captivating national parks, including the following:

  • Zion
  • Canyonlands
  • Capitol Reef
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Arches

You need not rely on camping for accommodations unless you wish, as, throughout, you can find abundant resorts and lodging opportunities. Traveling within the country is also a great way to stay on budget and retire comfortably.

The Rockies by Train

Touring the Canadian Rockies is a breathtaking enough experience when conducted by car or bus but touring them by train takes it to a whole other level. While a multi-day train ride might be prohibitive with a family in tow, as empty nesters, you two can relax into the ride and reconnect not as parents but as partners, friends and lovers. Soak up majestic mountain vistas you would never be able to see from the road. Trains like the Rocky Mountaineer offer glass-domed coaches for maximum viewing. Enjoy gourmet meals and personal service along the way, stopping at choice locations for a night in a hotel. You can depart from Vancouver on multiple routes, all of which take you through tunnels, cliff-sides, peaks and parks, all of it uniquely majestic.

Thailand Temples

If you want to explore ancient temples as exotic and magnificent as they are tranquil and reverent, then visit Thailand. From the coastal regions to the mountain jungles alike, you can find awe-inspiring sites of spiritual prayer and celebration. Atop the tallest mountain in Chiang Mai, for example, you can find Wat Phra That Doi Suthep dating back to the 14th century, featuring a 309-stair climb to the summit where you can view Chiang Mai.

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