Get away for longer: Winter sun seeking for the over 55s

The recent sun⁠-⁠drenched days enjoyed by many parts of the UK have clocked up the hottest September temperatures since 19111. But one thing’s for sure, it won’t be long before nights are drawing in and you’re reaching for your woollies.

So, how about making plans to escape the long, dark days of the season ahead? Extended winter sun breaks, whilst not exclusively aimed at the over 55’s market, are perfect for empty nesters who aren’t restricted to taking their time off during school holidays. And they can be more affordable than you might expect.

For those of us still facing the ‘9 to 5’ of work, a short break away from the office might be your goal. But if you’re planning ahead to retirement, when your time’s your own, you have the luxury of considering a long stay holiday or a cruise over the winter months.

Long stay holidays have traditionally brought to mind Benidorm, bingo and bowls. But as these out⁠-⁠of⁠-⁠season getaways have increased in popularity, more holiday companies are gearing up to cater for discerning retirees looking to escape the miserable British winter weather. Resorts and hotels have sprung up in sun⁠-⁠soaked locations like Cyprus, the Canaries, Egypt and Mexico, with this target audience in mind – offering more than the coach tours and tea dances of old.

Extended breaks over winter have always made good financial sense, with tempting ‘low season’ prices and the chance to avoid high utility bills at home. But there are also health benefits associated with staying somewhere warm and sunny – with more opportunities to exercise outdoors, plenty of healthy food and a better sense of general wellbeing.

If spending too long in one place gives you itchy feet, cruises are also a popular choice for financially-prudent over 55s. Longer trips taking in destinations around the Caribbean, for example, often work out better value than their shorter counterparts. They can offer a surprisingly low ‘price per day’ with all food and entertainment included.

Once you’ve made the decision to escape the British weather with a long winter getaway, there are a few other points to consider. It pays to check that your insurance will cover extended trips – many policies are restricted to a month or less. And don’t forget to inform your home insurance company, as being away for more than 30 days may invalidate your policy. You can also arrange for mail to be held by the Post Office if you don’t want to count on family or neighbours to pick up your post.

So whether retirement is just around the corner or you’re just starting to think about life after work, you can now make winter sunshine part of your plans, knowing that getting away from it all could be a more affordable option than you first thought. And if paying for your trip still seems like a hurdle, you could consider equity release as an option for freeing up funds.