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Top 5 Activities People Dream of Doing in Retirement


Happy retired couple traveling
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

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

However, the 2021 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 surveys of more than 3,100 full- or part-time workers from all three of those generations, plus some who were even older (born prior to 1946) or younger (Gen Z).

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

5. Volunteering

Happy volunteer
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

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 pet shelter. The list is virtually endless.

As a bonus, giving back to your community is likely to give you something in return: a sense of purpose. Giving back is a common source of purpose for retirees, as we detail in “8 of the Greatest Sources of Fulfillment for Retirees.”

4. Working

Senior mailing package
MMonkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 38%

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 retirement accounts.

Close to 40% of participants in the Transamerica survey said they dream of continuing to work when they retire, in such endeavors as starting a business, trying out a new line of work as an “encore” career or continuing to work in their chosen field.

3. Pursuing hobbies

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 51%

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 help 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.

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

2. Spending more time with family and friends

Grandfather reading to his granddaughter
LightField Studios / Shutterstock.com

Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 59%

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

Don’t rely on loved ones to fill all of your socialization and emotional needs, though. 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
View Apart / Shutterstock.com

Workers who dream of doing this in retirement: 65%

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 nonprofit Road Scholar creates “learning adventures” via trips all over the world, including in the United States.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.