Having passed the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots, I find myself enjoying retirement and keeping current by flying my own aircraft when and where I like. Better than the privilege of flying many years with a major airline is now my ability to decline or cancel a trip. I am able to go when I want and NOT go when I donít. That lack of pressure equates to a lot more enjoyment, particularly when coupled with sharing my passion for flight with others.
Unlike some pilots I have known, Iíve always LIKED traveling on my days off. Perhaps it was due to my love of flying, or my commuting long distances to work for my entire professional career. My friends ask me if I flew to all kinds of exotic places as a professional pilot and I tell them I have always preferred to do that for fun Ė on my own time. That way I can spend more time there and enjoy the people, the culture and the scenery in a more leisurely way. Since many foreign destinations such as Europe, Asia or South America are at the end of a long overnight flight with multiple time zone changes, I have always preferred flying there as a passenger on my own time so I can sit back, relax and enjoy the flight and the destination.
Recommendations for a great flight, take along your own entertainment, healthy snacks and a good travel pillow. Drink lots of water and get up at least once every 2 hours (if youíre not sleeping) and move around. I like to arrive at my destination in the late afternoon or evening so I can check into my hotel, eat a light dinner or snack and then get a good nightís rest after whatís usually a long travel day. By the way, donít plan anything too strenuous that first or second day to allow you time to get acclimated and re-energized. If you are planning to board a ship, give yourself several days of R&R at your embarkation port to enjoy the sights and possibly even meet some of your new shipmates.