Great Ideas for Retirement -
Learning a Language and Travel

Some of the best ideas for retirement are to educate yourself by learning a language, going to college and traveling.

A brain that is not challenged to learn new things for an extended period will actually become smaller and less capable of learning in the future. Continuing to be an active learner throughout your life may contribute to a larger, healthier brain.

Education is the best
provision for old age.
- Aristotle

Challenge your brain to stay active every day. Some simple things to do are to take a walk in an unfamiliar area, learn to operate you computer mouse with your left hand or read a page upside down. You can take it further by learning a new subject.

Anything new and challenging to you should work. Formal classes are not necessary. Some beneficial things to try are:

  • Take apart a car engine.
  • Play a musical instrument.
  • Organize a protest for your favorite political issue.

Activities that combine physical and mental challenges are even better. Juggling, square dancing, and sailing are examples.

Learning a Language

One excellent mental challenge is learning a language online. More software programs have been developed to meet the growing need. According to, the top 4 bests reviewed programs in their categories are:

  1. Best all-around language software - Tell Me More Premium. It is rated as the most comprehensive software choice for language fluency. It contains 850 hours of instruction and 4,500 exercises and is available in nine languages. A graphical intonation tool is included and it is less expensive (at around $270) than other intensive programs. On the downside, its users report minor navigation difficulties and is not the best for rank beginners.
  2. Best language software for kids under 12 - Kidspeak. This is an immersion-type program with plenty of interaction in a relaxed style. Cost is approximately $30.
  3. Language software for travelers - eLanguage Learn to Speak Deluxe. It is designed for travelers and contains focused vocabulary lessons and a strong emphasis on speech technology. Even though it does not lead to fluency, reviewers feel it does give them a decent vocabulary foundation and confidence in pronunciation. Cost is around $40.
  4. Best for learning less common language - Talk Now! Its software is available in 110 languages and dialects and offers language basics in nine topic areas. Priced at approximately $35.

If you decide to focus on Spanish, provided their rankings. Review them to determine which one you feel best fits your needs and price range:

  1. Tell Me More Spanish
  2. Fluenz Spanish
  3. Rosetta Stone Spanish
  4. Instant Immersion Spanish
  5. Spanish Learning Suite
  6. Berlitz Spanish
  7. 101 Languages of the World
  8. Rocket Spanish
  9. TeachMe! Spanish
  10. StarSpanish

A different approach in learning a language is to travel and learn at the same time. AmeriSpan ( provides a directory of the courses available to learn 20 different languages. A number of courses combine learning a language with cooking, wine tasting, golfing, dancing and sailing.

Go to College

Maybe you would prefer to take a language course at a local community college or university, instead of using a software program. You certainly can become more engaged in life by becoming a college student. There are several approaches to take.

  • Register for non-degreed courses whet you may not have to meet for the entire semester.
  • Some colleges offer non-credit courses for retirees.
  • Audit courses designed for degree-seeking students and you do not have to complete a degree.
  • Sign up for regular classes and earn a degree.

In all of these you will gain a sense of belonging as you interact with younger students.

Learn about Computers and the Internet

Expand your knowledge of how the computer and the internet can enhance your understanding and interests in the world. You can find out more about certain applications that interest you.

Perhaps your curiosity about photography could be greatly expanded by a computer application from Apple, Microsoft or other vendors. Now you can make professional quality photos. You can take video of your favorite subjects and store them on sites on the web for your family and friends. You could even learn to gain income by developing your own website. A link will be added shortly to Building Your Website.

Learn by Traveling

There are many ways to enhance your interests and knowledge about a subject through travel. If you have always had an interest in wildlife, especially cats, you could volunteer for the LiFeline project operating in Belize, as discussed in our Volunteer Work Overseas page. You pay your way to Belize and an additional cost to the organization for a chance to help with cat research. You may set camera traps, radio-track a newly released cat or other related tasks.

Elderhostel is the world’s largest educational and travel orgainization for those age 55 and over. Their students visit more than 90 countries worldwide. You can take part in lectures, field trips and activities that include meals and accommodations for periods of several days to several weeks.

The website for Elderhostel ( states that it “is a not-for-profit organization that provides exceptional learning adventures to nearly 160,000 older adults each year. -- From Paris to New Orleans, Delhi to CouncilBluffs, Elderhostel offers unique educational experiences, infused with the spirit of camaraderie and adventure, that enrich and enhance the lives of its participants.”

Of all the ideas for retirement, engaging your mind in ways that interests you and challenges you when you educate yourself, can provide recognized benefits for the long term.

Find the approach that is right for you.

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