Travel can play big role in retirement

A retired Manitoba couple hopes to continue seeing the world after COVID-restrictions are eased on international travel

Travelling was always part of Betty Turner’s life, even before she and husband Dennis started planning for their retirement.

After 40 years of farming 2,400 acres of crop and pasture land near Killarney, Man., it was obvious that travel was going to be a big part of their retirement years and the list of places they have visited has become extensive.

Since their first trip to Mazatlán, Mexico, in 1999, they have been hooked on international travel.

When deciding on destinations, Turner says they enjoy seeing natural wonders and beautiful places. She still has to pinch herself when she thinks about all the beautiful things the world has to offer, she says.

“We’ve seen the pyramids, floated down the Nile River on a mattress with 14 other people under the stars, saw the Great Barrier Reef and all the wonders.”

And she is glad that she got to see so many places when they did.

“Going forward, it will be different,” says Turner.

Since the end of March, the Canadian government has recommended everyone avoid all non-essential and cruise ship travel until further notice. Turner was planning a trip to Scotland and Ireland before a global pandemic changed their plans.

Depending on what travel insurance looks like in the future, Turner can still see her and her husband continuing their adventures once international travel is allowed again. Even with the COVID crisis carrying on, plenty of places remain on their travel wish list, says Betty.

Unfortunately, with their health being a big part of where they go, Turner says they will be thinking twice about going to countries in the developing world, which is a disappointment, she says.

Even before COVID-19, vacations have always taken planning and money.

When they were raising kids and cattle, Turner says they took a page out of the Wealthy Barber and paid themselves first for another year of farming, even when they had little money to save and couldn’t travel very far. Trips to British Columbia, South Dakota, or Minnesota were within reach when their kids were younger, says Turner.

Now that their four daughters are having families of their own, Turner says her daughters help plan their vacations.

“Everybody has jobs and kids are in school. We like to take a week or so and it’s almost selfish on Dennis and my part because we have all our family all around us, and it’s just us.”

Part of the retirement planning process was knowing when to step away from their farm, says Turner.

They loved what they did, she says, raising a 200 head commercial cow/calf operation until 2009 when they started to focus on crop production. They loved trying new crops and grew grass for seed. They loved farming, says Turner, and shared that love as part of the Killarney Marketing Club.

Dennis is a founding member and the club is still going strong, sharing information and laughs as they look out for each other, says Turner. They became involved in volunteering with their local Canadian Foodgrains Bank project and got to see its importance when they went to Ethiopia, she says.

Stepping away from the farm was a gradual process over 10 years, but Turner says she and Dennis surrounded themselves with a great team — a lawyer, an accountant, and their financial advisers — in order to figure out the best way to go about retiring, which they eventually did in 2018.

It can be tough but every person needs to plan their own retirement to fit their goals and dreams. Every plan is unique, says Turner, and you have to be flexible.

“Gather all the information that you need, and read. Read lots, but at the end of the day, your plan will be only to you and your family’s situation. There’s such good information out there with your lawyers, accountant, and financial planner.”

Whatever the plan, Turner says being transparent with your family is also essential to retirement success.

While everyone can plan for the financial and the legal side of retirement, packing up the house and selling the equipment can be emotionally straining.

Retirement for Betty and Dennis included leaving their 127-year-old farmyard, which was homesteaded by Dennis’s family.

Despite the sadness of leaving the farm, the auction to sell the property in 2018 was treated like a celebration, with the Turners’ four daughters and Dennis’s 93-year-old mother in attendance. While bittersweet because of their love of farming, Betty says, it was a happy occasion.

“It wasn’t like we were forced out of farming because of health or finances or weather or accident. It was a choice and we’re really happy with the decision made.”

Now they are content living on their 26-acre acreage within Killarney town limits. Their land is zoned agriculturally restricted so they have equipment to do landscaping and work on trails. When they aren’t travelling, Turner says they hope they can keep busy with those things, as well as golfing and kayaking, along with other lake activities.

They have more time to do that now that they aren’t farming, she says.

Turner also counts herself blessed that the farm went to owners that care for their former property. Driving down the farm lane for the last time can be difficult, and the Turner’s still own part of the property where Dennis grew up.

Now, Turner says she can look down the road and smile with no regrets and no shame for letting go.

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