For many today, golden years have less travel, more work

That pretty much sums up Mary Small's attitude. Over the past 11 years, Small, 75, of River Forest, Ill., has taken part in more than 30 Elderhostel programs, including a trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary II. During the trip, she studied British theater.

Small is still an avid Elderhostel member, with three more trips planned this year. But she's been making some cost-saving changes in her travel plans. Because international travel has grown so expensive for Americans, she plans to stay in the USA. And though she loves to drive, she's decided not to rent a car when she flies to Portland, Ore., this summer for a trip through the Pacific Northwest. Instead of spending money on rental-car fees and gas, she'll take an Amtrak train to Seattle and a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia.

Small, who worked as a market researcher before retiring, considers herself fortunate to receive a monthly pension from her former employer. She doesn't regard herself as a particularly big spender, but adds, "As long as I don't bounce any checks, I truly am not worried about money."

Rising costs haven't sidelined Don Nylin, either. Nylin, 79, of Lincolnshire, Ill., went to San Diego in March, drove to Cape Cod, Mass., in May and plans to drive to Maine in September for a Windjammer cruise. Having recently reconnected with a high school sweetheart in Maine, Nylin is planning another trip East.

"When I was driving to Cape Cod, I thought, if I skip two cups of coffee in each day's travel, it will almost pay for the difference in the price of gasoline," he says. "You spend your time and money on what's important to you."

Meanwhile, Lynda Perdew says things will have to get much worse before she and her husband will park their motor home for good. "We haven't seen everything; there's still a lot to do," says Perdew, a three-time cancer survivor. "I don't want to be lying on my deathbed and saying, 'I wish I would have seen that.' "

Others feel they have no choice but to scale back travel plans. Larry and Fran Page say they'll take just one trip this summer. In July, they'll celebrate their 50th anniversary on an Alaskan cruise — a gift from their children.

But once they return, Larry Page plans to return to work. The additional income, he says, will help the couple cope with rising prices. He's been interviewing for a job in customer service and hopes to find a full-time position.

Page says it recently cost him $50 to fill up the couple's 2004 Saturn Vue, a sobering milestone he thought he'd never see.

"It's a different world than we ever anticipated," he says.

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