Traveling after retirement can be an enriching experience. It’s a chance to explore the world, indulge in different cultures, and make new memories that will last a lifetime. Before you plan your trips, setting goals for yourself is essential.
To get the most out of your post-retirement travel, you should know how often you want to travel and what destinations you’d like to visit. Depending on your budget, age, and health, you may want to plan frequent trips or make longer ones with more time in between.
Form a Consensus
Traveling after retirement is an exciting prospect that should be thoroughly planned and thought out to ensure the best experience possible. A critical step in your retirement planning process should be discussing travel plans with your spouse.
When speaking with your spouse, consider the duration of the trip, frequency, and budget. Have an honest conversation about your plans and preferences to ensure that you’re on the same page.
Think About Exotic Travel Locations
After retirement, you may find yourself dreaming of exotic locations to explore. Whether it’s a tropical beach, an ancient ruin, or a cultural melting pot, the world offers many travel opportunities.
But before you book a flight, it’s essential to consider the culture and environment of your destination. You want to ensure that you feel safe and comfortable while taking advantage of unique experiences.
Find Senior Discounts
Are you over 60 and looking for ways to travel on a budget during retirement? One of the best ways to do that is to take advantage of senior discounts on hotels, flights, car rentals, cruises, and other vacation packages.
Senior discounts are available in many countries around the world, so if you’re planning to travel internationally, make sure to do your research and find out what deals are available in your destination.
Hit the Road
An RV road trip is an excellent option for retirees looking for an exciting way to explore the world. An RV offers the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want, and allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home without having to check in and out of different accommodations. Plus, there’s no better way to bond with family and friends than to share a memorable road trip.
When choosing the right RV, it’s essential to consider your needs. For example, a smaller vehicle may be sufficient if you plan to take short trips around your local area.
Alternatives to Hotels
Retirement can be the perfect opportunity to travel and explore new places, but it can also be expensive. Hotels can be a great option when traveling, but they’re not always budget-friendly. There are a lot of options for retired travelers, like bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, house sitting, and camping.
No matter how you choose to travel after retirement, these alternatives to hotels can help make your trip more affordable and enjoyable. With careful planning and research, you can find the perfect accommodation for your retirement travels without breaking the bank.
Rent Out Your Own Home
Traveling is one of the best ways to make the most out of retirement, but it can also be expensive. One way to help fund your retirement travels is by renting out your home! Not only will you be able to use the money to cover expenses, but you’ll also get a chance to experience other cultures and learn about new places.
Renting out your home for retirement travel can be a great way to explore different parts of the world and make some extra money. With proper planning and preparation, you can make this dream a reality and enjoy all the benefits of retirement travel.
Go at the Last Minute
Traveling after retirement can be a great way to enjoy your newfound free time and explore the world. However, with increased flexibility comes increased responsibility for budgeting your travel costs. If you’re looking to save money on your post-retirement trips, last-minute travel deals may be just the ticket.
Last-minute travel offers can be a great way to get away for a fraction of the cost. Airlines, hotels, and car rental companies often need to fill empty seats and hotel rooms, so they offer discounts to customers willing to book at the last minute.
Take Time to Plan
Traveling after retirement can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You have the freedom to explore new places and cultures, as well as the opportunity to make lifelong memories with your loved ones. But before you start booking flights and making plans, it’s imperative to take some time to plan your trips carefully.
In the absence of a travel plan, one might encounter unexpected problems that can affect the overall mood and feel of the trip. So it’s imperative to plan well.
Plan Longer Trips and Save
Traveling after retirement is a great way to make the most of your newfound freedom and extra time. But if you’re planning to take a more extended trip, you’ll need to be extra prepared. You need to know about the local culture, language, and customs.
Once you acquire the working knowledge of all these aspects, a longer trip makes you relish the new environment more. Additionally, you can save money by opting for slower modes of communication, Airbnbs, and even cooking meals yourself.
Plan to Retire Abroad
Retiring abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience. It allows you to explore new cultures, try different foods, and immerse yourself in a foreign language. Not only that, but it can be surprisingly affordable too.
When deciding on a retirement destination, consider a country with a lower cost of living. It’ll allow you to stretch your retirement savings further. Do some research on the local economy and job market to find out what kind of job opportunities are available for seniors.
Think Seriously About Travel Insurance
Traveling after retirement can be a great way to enjoy yourself, but it’s important to consider getting travel insurance before heading off on your journey. Travel insurance can protect you from losses due to canceled flights, medical expenses incurred abroad, and more.
When considering travel insurance, look for the type of coverage that best suits your needs. Do you need coverage for a medical emergency, trip cancellation, or lost or stolen belongings? An insurance cover can protect you against any unforeseen difficulty.
Visit National Parks
When you retire, you can explore more of the world and make memories that will last a lifetime. One of the best ways to do that is by visiting national parks. Not only are these places wonderful and full of wildlife, but they also offer discounts for seniors over the age of 62.
Moreover, many national parks offer special programs just for seniors, such as ranger-led hikes and educational activities. Additionally, you can often purchase tickets for ranger-led tours or educational programs tailored specifically for seniors.
Discover Discounts on Cruises
Traveling after retirement can be a great way to explore the world and have new adventures. One way to make your post-retirement trips even more enjoyable is to take advantage of special discounts and offers on cruises. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely river cruise or an ocean voyage, there are plenty of ways to save money.
Many cruise lines offer special pricing for seniors, so ask when you book. By doing a little research and taking advantage of special offers, you can save money and enjoy an unforgettable experience on a cruise after retirement.
Join a Tour
Traveling after retirement can be an exciting and liberating experience. One great way to make the most of your post-retirement travels is by joining a tour.
When you join a tour, you’ll find yourself in the company of like-minded travelers who share your interests and enthusiasm for exploration. Not only will you have access to knowledgeable guides and experienced tour leaders who can show you the best places to visit, but you’ll also have the safety and security of traveling in a group.
Sign Up for a Senior Travel Club
Traveling after retirement is an exciting adventure that everyone can enjoy. One great way to take advantage of senior discounts and resources is by joining a senior travel club.
Senior travel clubs offer a wide range of benefits, including access to exclusive discounts, organized trips, and activities specifically tailored to seniors. Not only that, but they also allow you to meet like-minded people and gain valuable advice from experienced travelers.
Volunteering is a great way to travel after retirement. It combines the pleasure of traveling with the opportunity to give back and make a difference in the world.
Before you decide to volunteer, take the time to research the organization you’ll be working with. Make sure they’re a legitimate organization and that their mission aligns with your values. Then, it’s time to start planning! Think about where you want to go, what kind of project you want to work on, and how long you’d like to volunteer for.
Travel With the Grandkids
Traveling with your grandkids can be an amazing experience and is a great way to make lasting memories. As you plan your retirement trips, think about how to make your travels memorable for the grandkids.
You could bring them on a tour of their future college or university campus. Other options include going on a hike in their favorite national park or visiting their hometowns that they haven’t returned to in years. It might take some time to organize everything, but these experiences will stay with them forever.
Make Travel a Part of Your Retirement Plan
Traveling after retirement can open up a new world of possibilities to explore, discover the world, and help you stay active and engaged. In the USA alone, more than 5 million people aged 65 or older travel in some form every year.
Retired travelers should consider different factors when planning their trips. These factors should include destination and purpose, desired duration, physical fitness, medical history, financial status, level of support system at home (friends/family), and accessibility (transportation).
Start Planning Early
Retirement is a great opportunity to explore the world and experience different cultures. Before you take off on your exciting journey, it’s important to plan and ensure that you’re prepared.
By starting to plan early for post-retirement traveling and trips, you can have more assets to spend from. Your destination wish list will be more detailed and specific, which will lead to a more rewarding traveling experience.
Create an Annual Travel Budget
If you’re planning to travel after retirement, one of the best ways to ensure that you stay within your budget is to create an annual travel budget. It’ll help you plan your trips wisely and also ensure that you can afford them.
To create your budget, first, determine how much money you have available each year to travel. Once you know this, decide what trips you’d like to take, how long they should last, and the type of accommodations you prefer. With a well-planned annual travel budget, you can enjoy your retirement travels without worrying about financial ramifications.
Create a List
Are you dreaming of taking a grand retirement journey? If so, it’s time to start planning your post-retirement travel and creating a list. A list of destinations, activities, and experiences you’d like to try out will help ensure that your travels will be full of adventure and meaningful moments.
The first step in creating your list is to brainstorm some ideas. Once you’ve thought of some ideas, begin researching those places and activities. Find out what they’re like, how to get there, when is the best time of year to visit, and how much it’ll cost.
Ask Friends to Join You
Traveling after retirement is an exciting opportunity to explore and experience new cultures and landscapes. If you’re planning a trip, ask your friends to join you. Having a travel companion can make the journey more enjoyable and provide a sense of security. Additionally, it’s always nice to share a memorable trip with someone you care about.
When you invite your companions on the trip, keep everyone’s needs and desires in mind. Make sure they’re as excited about the trip as you are, and discuss any special considerations they may have.
Do Your Research
Retiring and finally being able to travel after years of working is a great feeling! But planning and executing your perfect post-retirement travels is essential. Do some research before booking anything, so that you can make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
When researching for your trip, start by asking yourself what kind of experience you want. Do you want to explore the world or stay closer to home? What sort of activities do you want to do? Knowing this will help you have the post-retirement travel experience of a lifetime.
Choose the Right Day Tour
When planning your post-retirement travels, it’s essential to choose the right day tour for you. Day tours are a great way to explore new places and cultures without spending too much time in one place. They offer an easy, stress-free way to enjoy different sights, attractions, and activities in a single day.
Read reviews and compare prices before making your final decision. It’ll help you ensure that you get the most bang for your buck and will ensure that you have a great day tour experience.
Seek Out New Experiences
Traveling after retirement can be a liberating experience. You can explore new places and cultures, meet new people, and create unique experiences you never imagined before.
Instead of taking the same beach vacation you’ve taken for the past 10 years, why not consider a trip to the mountains or an expedition to Antarctica? Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to explore new places and activities that you haven’t done before.
Don’t Forget to Relax
Retirement can be a great opportunity to explore and experience new things. However, it’s essential to make sure you don’t forget to relax during your travels. After all, retirement is about taking time for yourself and enjoying your newfound freedom!
Don’t forget to enjoy your downtime. Relax with a good book or magazine, take a nap, or take some time to reflect on your adventures. Taking time for relaxation is just as important as exploring the world around you.
Gain Clarity About Your Travel Lifestyle
Before you set out on your journey, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of the kind of travel lifestyle you want to pursue. Are you interested in going on long-term trips or just taking occasional weekend trips? Would you prefer to visit exotic places or stay closer to home and explore what’s in your backyard?
Knowing what kind of traveler you are will help you find the best deals, determine the best locations for your travels, and determine how much money you need to budget for each trip.
One way to learn about travel deals and activities for retirees is to join travel-related Facebook groups or Reddit threads. You can ask questions about specific destinations, get advice from people who’ve already been there, and even find discounts and special offers.
Additionally, many retirees take advantage of travel blogs to get ideas for their trips. Reading these blogs can give you valuable insight into your options and allow you to plan a trip that fits your budget and interests.
Weigh Your Priorities
You should take some time to think about your must-haves and must-nots when it comes to travel. Be sure to research potential destinations and accommodations ahead of time to ensure you’re comfortable with the choices.
Make sure to stay safe while on your travels. Plan out your route and stick with it as much as possible. Keep track of your belongings, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get lost or confused.
If you’re planning a trip after retirement, it’s vital to remain flexible and adapt to any changes coming your way. Traveling can present unique challenges with the world constantly changing, so it’s crucial to stay prepared and ready for anything.
Flexibility while traveling allows you to make changes on the fly and not be tied down to a strict itinerary. You may decide to go somewhere completely different than planned or take a detour when something interesting catches your eye. No matter what comes up, staying flexible ensures you can make the most of your post-retirement trip.
Travel During Shoulder Seasons
One way to ensure your post-retirement travels are as affordable and stress-free as possible is to plan your trips around the shoulder seasons. Shoulder season refers to the time of year when travel is less expensive and less crowded than peak season.
For instance, if you want to go on a Caribbean cruise, plan your trip for the months between peak winter and summer travel. It’ll result in fewer crowds and more availability on the ship. The same goes for trips to tropical beaches, national parks, or popular cities like New York or London.
Combine Multiple Stops
Retirement is the perfect time to start traveling, especially if you’re able to combine multiple stops into one trip. There are many different ways you can do this. One option is to plan your trips around a particular region. This way, you can explore multiple cities and attractions in one area during one trip, saving you money and time.
You can also combine multiple types of vacations into one trip. For example, you could combine a beach vacation with a city break. Alternatively, you could choose an all-inclusive resort package that includes hotel accommodations and guided tours of local attractions.
Look for Discounted Airfare
Retiring can open up a world of possibilities, especially regarding travel. One of the best ways to save money while traveling after retirement is to look for discounted airfare. There are many airlines out there that offer special senior rates for retirees who are looking to explore the world.
Another great way to save money on airfare is to book flights in advance. Airlines often offer discounts for booking tickets months in advance, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
Skip the Rental Car
Taking public transportation or a taxi can save you money and hassle while traveling. Public transportation is often cheaper than renting a car, and you won’t have to worry about finding a place to park or navigating unfamiliar roads.
Rental cars can be convenient, but they’re not always necessary. If you plan on staying in one area for a few days, you may not need a car. Walking or taking public transit may be enough to get around without the added expense of a rental car.
Keep Food Expenses in Check
Traveling after retirement is a great way to make the most of your free time and explore the world. While planning an adventure is exciting, it’s essential to consider your budget when traveling. One way to save money on travel is to keep food expenses in check.
You can search for local supermarkets and farmers’ markets to find fresh produce and other items at a reasonable price. Additionally, some restaurants may offer discounts for seniors, so it pays to ask!
Stick Close to Home
Sticking close to home is one of the best ways to enjoy traveling after retirement. Not only is it convenient and cost-effective, but it also allows you to experience all the beauty and culture of a new place without worrying about jet lag or navigating an unfamiliar language.
Whether you’re just visiting a nearby city for the weekend or taking a road trip around your state, exploring close to home can be a gratifying experience. You’ll be amazed at all the incredible experiences you can have without ever leaving your hometown.
Try Your Hand at Timeshares
If you’re looking for a unique way to travel after retirement, then timeshares could be a great option. Timeshares allow you to purchase vacation time in a particular property or destination. It allows you to have access to a property for a certain amount each year, with the benefit of shared ownership and shared costs.
Overall, timeshares can be a great option for retirees looking for an affordable way to travel more often. Not only will they save you money on your accommodations, but they’ll also give you more freedom to travel as often as you’d like.
Plan With a Professional
Post-retirement travel can be made a memorable experience with the help of an experienced travel planner. He/she can create a personalized itinerary that fits your needs and budget. Your planner can also provide invaluable insight on where to stay, what to do, and other helpful tips to make your travels successful.
He/she will be able to work with you to book flights and accommodations and provide valuable guidance on the best places to visit. If you’re looking for a stress-free way to plan a trip after retirement, consider working with a professional travel planner.
If you’re retired, you may have plenty of time on your hands and may be itching to travel. One of the most enjoyable and relaxing ways to do this is through slow travel. With slow travel, you don’t need to rush around trying to hit every landmark in a place before moving on to the next one.
Slow travel is an excellent way to make the most of your post-retirement travels. You’ll have plenty of time to relax and explore without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
Consider Your Health
If you’re considering traveling after retirement, it’s essential to consider your health. Before making any decisions, ensure you’re physically capable of taking on the rigors of travel. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns, and be sure to discuss any necessary preventive measures you may need to take before embarking on your travels.
Make sure to research all potential safety risks and obtain necessary medical supplies, such as insect repellent, sunscreen, and medication to protect yourself.
Drive Instead of Flying
Traveling after retirement is a great way to explore the world and make new memories. A great way to travel is by car. Driving can be cost-effective and allows you to take your time and enjoy the journey.
If you’re planning to drive long distances, it’s important to make a plan. Make sure your car is serviced correctly and in good working order. Invest in items like a GPS system, extra tires, and an emergency kit that includes things like jumper cables, flashlights, water, and snacks. And don’t forget to purchase a route map as a backup in case you get lost!
Stay in One Place
Staying in one place while traveling allows you to get to know an area. Also, you won’t be constantly packing up and leaving, saving time and money. You could also look into home exchanges or house sitting if you want to avoid hotels and Airbnbs altogether.
If you choose to stay in one place, look for activities that’ll let you explore the area. Look for local festivals, museums, and galleries with free admission or discounted rates for seniors.
Whether you’re planning a local day trip or a more extensive excursion, some important safety considerations must be observed. It’s a good idea to have a plan of action in an emergency.
Make sure someone back home knows where you’ll be and when, and research the contact information for local authorities and embassies if needed. Having the right resources on hand in an emergency can make all the difference in keeping yourself safe.
Focus on Having a Good Experience
One of the most important things to remember is to focus on having a good experience. It means not worrying too much about getting the absolute lowest prices or cramming too many activities into one trip. After all, this is your chance to relax and enjoy life!
By focusing on having a great experience while traveling after retirement, you can create unforgettable memories that’ll last a lifetime. With a little planning and preparation, you can ensure that your journey is full of adventure and exploration!
A Much-Needed Switch
Prior to 2014, the submarine force had 18-hour days in which sailors stood watch for six hours, and had 12 hours off for other duties as well as sleep. Thanks to a few junior officers, though, it was agreed to change those watches to eight hours, with 16 hours off.
According to the officers, this switch had an immediate positive effect. Not only have people improved in their performances, but this switch also increased morale on the boat.
There’s No “I” in Team
Stealing anywhere should be prohibited, but you’re probably wondering why we’re placing such an emphasis on theft here. Well, it turns out that there are some serious consequences for those who steal whilst on a submarine.
One way or another, the thief will get caught. Once that happens, they’re kicked off the boat at the next port. Not only that, but this kind of incident can (unsurprisingly) cause demotions and rank drops. These consequences make sense considering the fact that these people are supposed to be a team.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Sharing is caring.” Well, that sentiment is slightly different if you’re living aboard a submarine. Submarines don’t have bunks for each of the passengers. In this case, two to three people usually share the same bunk with each other.
How? When one person’s shift ends, they wake up another passenger who’s sleeping in the bunk. This happens so often that submariners have even come up with a term called hot racking, which refers to the warm spot on the bed that someone else leaves behind after sleeping there for six hours.
The Dolphin Pin
Dolphins are the cutest, right? Did you know that dolphins are also extraordinarily honorable? Well, submariners are well aware of that. Officers have to work really hard to earn the highest honor from their commanders while living onboard a submarine.
The only way to get the dolphin pin as a marine is to memorize how the submarine works and learn how to use the boat as a weapon. Then, you’d have to sit down for a test and ace it with flying colors.
They Call Beds “Coffins”
Living aboard a submarine, which is basically an underwater metal tube, can be quite an eery thought if you really think about it. With that said, it’s only fitting that officers call the beds where they bunk “coffins.” Yes — you read that right.
An interesting nickname, we’re not sure how comfortable we’d feel laying down in a graveyard of sorts. Of course, we’re only kidding but nonetheless, it’s an interesting nickname for the bunkers.
The officers and marines that live aboard submarines learn and train themselves to sleep anytime, anywhere — so much so that you can have a full-on conversation next to someone that’s sleeping, and they won’t wake up.
Call their name once in a lower tone, though, and they’ll be up in no time. If only we had that skill. We’d take a nap or catch some shut-eye anywhere and everywhere!
Submerged for Weeks or Months
Considering that submarines operate underwater, or at the bottom of the ocean, it’s very rare to see daylight and nightfall. So, it’s incredibly easy to lose track of the time once you’re inside an operating submarine — especially considering the fact that these boats can stay submerged for weeks or even months at a time.
Still, if you’re ever aboard a submarine, don’t fret — you will have access to a clock! The point is, you’ll probably find it incredibly challenging to figure out what time it is without looking at the clock.
Lower Levels of Oxygen
Submarines keep oxygen levels extremely low, and although this is for safety reasons, this can have some serious side effects. For instance, lower oxygen makes it more of a challenge for your body to heal if it’s been injured.
While that’s typically not a problem, if you end up cutting yourself while working aboard a submarine, you probably won’t be the happiest of campers. Aside from the fact that your wound would constantly ooze because it can’t heal properly, lower oxygen can also cause your energy levels to drop and contribute to mood swings.
Sleeping With Nukes
Cramped living conditions may not sound so bad at first. In fact, some may find these small spaces to be cozy — that is, until they realize they have to share the same space with massively destructive weapons.
Although an off-putting thought, you better get used to being around ballistic missiles, torpedoes, and even nuclear warheads for months at a time.
Electronics Will Guide You Home
Suppose you’re going somewhere that you’re not totally familiar with, so you stop and ask someone for directions. Well, aboard submarines, you can’t really do this.
As we all know, submarines glide through the water, relying solely on electronics and sophisticated machines in order to navigate. In other words, your life is dependent on electronic machines.
Months on End
You might be in love with submarine life and perhaps you’re planning on becoming a top-tier expert submariner, but beware — a huge commitment awaits you. We’re saying this because you won’t be staying underwater in a submarine for just a few days.
Rather, you’ll be living in the submarine for at least 90 days. While this is the minimum for normal tours, oftentimes, it gets extended to the point that you can end up on the submarine for almost six months!
No News Is Good News
Despite what some of you may believe, living aboard a submarine is not always high-tense action and sick battles. On the contrary (for the most part), life on a boat is rather mundane. The crew members follow the same schedule every day and while this can get quite boring at times, it’s actually a very good thing!
Why, you ask? Well, if there’s commotion aboard a submarine, that could mean that the world is in danger.
At this point in the list, you’ve probably already realized what limited space there is inside a submarine. Now, you have to share that space with a crew that can range up to over 100 people. That’s nuts!
So, when it comes to storing your belongings, make sure not to overpack because you will be sharing that space with tons of other people.
Training for the Submarine Life
Just because it’s your dream to become a submariner doesn’t mean it’ll happen overnight. In fact, there’s a lot of training that goes into becoming a submarine crew member, and it’s a rigorous process.
According to a former Navy crew member, for the first few months, you spend 10 hours a day studying non-stop before marching back and forth. They essentially “cram four to six years of college-level information into a six-month period.”
No Communication With the Outer World
When you board a submarine, you should prepare yourself and understand that communicating with your loved ones won’t be like it was before. No mailman is going to swim deep into the ocean to pick up mail from you to deliver to your loved ones, and vice versa (obviously). The only time you can deliver or receive mail is when the submarine surfaces.
Even then, the submarine emits a signal that shows the location of the submarine, which the crew does not want. So, with that, just know that communicating with the outside world whilst you’re aboard a submarine won’t necessarily be a piece of a cake.
Laid Back Grooming Options
While the strongest military branches are usually made up of clean-cut soldiers with little to no facial hair and buzz cuts, those living aboard submarines have a different set of rules. These guidelines are a bit more laidback, and that makes sense considering that these men are trapped in a metal tube for months on end.
With that being said, it’s understandable that they don’t want to shave every single day!
Do you know what the crew members do after their boat, or submarine, is fully submerged under the water? They look for leaks, of course! Why? Well, if the boat does have any leaks in it, then their lives will be at great risk.
Even if they’re dealing with a huge leak or hole, they need to cover or mend it in a short amount of time — and they need to do it quickly. Their lives literally depend on it…
We have shared this information several times to make you understand just how little space submarines have. But, here’s another example of that! Due to the smaller space capacity, most of the areas inside these boats are entirely cramped. This impacts the hallways as well.
In fact, the hallways are so narrow that only one person can walk through them at a time. In other words, two members can’t even walk through a hallway side-by-side.
Do you remember how we discussed the size of bathrooms aboard submarines? Well, this time, we’re discussing the whole shower situation. As we all know by now, many types of machinery and equipment consume most of the space.
So when it comes to fitting in a shower, they need to be creative. Because of this, showers aboard submarines are usually — you guessed it — pretty cramped.
The kitchen aboard a submarine, also known as a galley, is where all the food is prepared. Now, considering we’ve mentioned time and time again that submarines are very limited when it comes to space, you may find it surprising to learn that these galleys are relatively large.
Don’t get too excited — these kitchens aren’t that big but in comparison to the other areas on board, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
Three Meals a Day
We can’t talk about submarine kitchens without discussing the food onboard! Modern American submarines feed their crew members three meals a day for the length of the submarine patrol — which could last weeks or even months without resupply! And from the looks of it, the food doesn’t look half bad!
In the top photo, you can see that the cook is seasoning a tray of fish fillets aboard the ballistic missile submarine USS Lousiana. In the bottom photo, another cook is preparing pizza on the same submarine.
Watch duties aren’t random assigned amongst the crew members. Instead, they prepare the schedule for the incoming months based on a hierarchy of sorts.
Everyone has to attend watch duty but the time and place will vary depending on the personnel’s rank. It also depends on the kind of specialized training each of these individuals go through. So, with higher rank comes greater responsibility.
Since we’ve already discussed watch duties and how responsibilities are distributed to the crew members, we’d like to now get a little more specific — who does what during the watch duties?
For instance, the deck officer is required and in charge of the conning tower, a raised platform on the submarine from which the officer can conn the vessel. In other words, the officer can control the movements of the ship by giving orders to those responsible for the ship’s engine, rudder, lines, and ground tackle.
The Command Launch
You must be wondering how the crew members manage to make space for tons of weapons when everything is so cramped, and space is so limited. Well, that’s what the command launch is essentially for — to store all those types of weapons.
Just like any other area on board a Navy or Marine vessel, the control room has particular requirements. Just because there’s space for weaponry doesn’t mean that they aren’t limited. This limited space actually demands certain design features including specific lighting solutions.
Now that we’ve covered where the weaponry sits aboard these submarines, it’s time to learn a little more about these said weapons. Some submarines have Trident missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles.
In other words, be extra careful if your submarine is carrying one. On the other hand, though, you can feel at peace knowing that you have something this powerful to protect you!
Moving away from war and gore, let’s talk about something light and fun. Did you know that there are multiple recreational options for the sailors and crew members? Come on, they need to have a little fun as well, especially because they’re underwater for weeks or months at a time!
Anyway, members keep busy in their spare time by playing cards and board games. Sounds a lot like summer camp, huh?
Sailors are known for their superstitions and weird ceremonies. One of them is called the “Line-Crossing Ceremony”. Unlike what you may think, crossing the line doesn’t mean punishing someone for, well, crossing the line.
What it actually stands for is crossing the Equator. All the people who have already crossed the Equator are called “shellbacks,” and they initiate the wogs (short for pollywogs), those who haven’t crossed the line yet.
Angles and Danglers
As you may have guessed from the title, you are about to read about many head-swirling moments. Angles and dangles mean that the crew takes the submarine on a couple of extreme turns.
Usually, it’s done to test the crew’s ability to deal with extreme scenarios. This mainly involves groping whatever you can and ensuring that all the equipment is secured in place. Then, all that is left to do is to enjoy the rough ride.
No Slamming Doors
Since sailors get very little sleep, and anyway, it’s pretty hard to get a good sleep on a submarine, there is a very strict rule about slamming doors. Since every little noise may cause people to wake up, slamming doors is strictly prohibited.
Also, there is another aspect to it. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to maintain complete silence to avoid sonar detection by enemy vessels. So, slamming doors or making any other loud noises is not allowed.
Limited Shower Time
Despite the fact that a submarine is virtually surrounded by water, clean water is extremely precious onboard the vessel. Since a submarine wishes to stay undetected, it needs to limit the number of times it expels its used (grey) water.
For this reason, shower time is limited to three or five minutes max. It depends on water run time, which is the time it takes to cycle used water out of the ship’s systems.
Usually, there is only one washer and one dryer aboard a submarine. This means that it can handle only a small amount of clothes every time it is used. And despite what you may think, these washers and dryers are not that different from the ones you have at home.
Sure, they may be a little smaller in size because they have to fit in a cramped environment, but that’s pretty much the only difference.
Unlike the rest of the navy, submariners get a special kind of uniform. Sure, they still bear all the markings and colors of the US Navy, but with a unique twist to it. While sailors on board a submarine wear deep blue overalls (like other sailors), these are made of lint-free polyester.
And the reason? Lint may clog the air filtration system onboard the submarine. Also, this garment earned a funny nickname — poopie suit.
Ever wondered how the servicemen (and recently, servicewomen) onboard submarines don’t suffocate? Submarines are equipped with a simple yet quite impressive technology that allows them to produce oxygen from the water.
Seawater is put through a process called electrolysis, which basically allows the extraction of oxygen from saltwater. Additionally, submarines have a couple of oxygen tanks just in case these systems fail and there is an acute need to release oxygen into the submarine’s interior.
Sometimes, especially in Hollywood movies, submarines are depicted laying at the bottom of the ocean. Have you ever wondered if it’s even possible? The answer is simple: it depends on the type of submarine.
Apparently, electric-diesel submarines are lighter and more maneuverable and they can actually do that, assuming that the depth is within their limit. However, their bigger sisters, the nuclear submarines, are less likely to perform something like that since they may get stuck at the bottom.
An average submarine has some 100 people serving on it, sometimes even more. This means that they produce a lot of trash, starting from candy wrappers to eggshells, and even Q-tips. Where is all this waste going?
Following both environmental safety concerns, and ensuring the success of the mission, some of the trash is sorted until it can be unloaded and recycled onshore, whereas what can’t be recycled gets sealed in special steel cans and dumped into the ocean.
Submarines need to stay as quiet as possible to avoid detection. For this reason, their hull is coated with a special material called anechoic coating. It consists of complexly engineered rubber tiles that are attached to the hull of the submarine with glue.
These rubber tiles absorb the sound of breaking waves against the hull, thus reducing the acoustic signature of the vessel. They also reduce the sounds that are coming out of the submarine, ensuring that the submarine remains as stealthy as possible.
This is perhaps a fact that is little known by many, given its distinctive and covert nature. United States submarines have a special compartment called the lockout trunk, which is used by the Navy SEALs.
This is basically a room that is accessible via a hatch and it allows SEAL teams to get on board the submarine in their scuba gear while the ship is submerged. This basically gives them the ability to deploy special forces anywhere in the world.
One of the many advantages of using a nuclear-powered submarine is the fact that it will remain operational for decades without the need to refuel. The Astute class nuclear submarines that are operated by the Royal Navy, for example, require refueling only once in 25 years.
Naturally, even with such capabilities, a submarine needs to resurface simply because it needs to be resupplied with food and clean water. However, this is still an impressive fact.
We’ve already mentioned the fact that there aren’t enough sleeping bunks on board a submarine and sailors often have to share their beds with each other. Sometimes, when that doesn’t seem to be enough, temporary bunks are sometimes placed in the torpedo room.
This means that sailors have to share their beds with hunky torpedoes. We’re kidding of course, but we guess that sleeping around metal tubes filled with explosives is something they get used to.
Most modern submarines have a dedicated area onboard the vessel that is reserved for the ship’s doctor. The word “doctor,” however, can be misleading. On some submarines, a senior corpsman serves as the medical authority on board the vessel, but only after completing a very rigorous training process.
Their job is to ensure that the crew stays healthy. They can treat minor injuries as well as more serious and complex ones, even those that may require surgery.
Given the fact that submarines have to remain submerged for long periods of time, food is an issue. Fresh food only lasts a couple of weeks, and then the chefs have to improvise. Some dried foods are used to cook great meals, including complex dishes such as lasagna.
Additional tricks include storing fresh food in various nooks and crannies, to prolong their shelf life. Since it gets really cold underwater, fresh products can last a little longer than on the surface.
Lack of Motion
This may be quite surprising for those who have never actually been on a submarine, but things remain very still even if there is a storm raging above. But, why is that? This is because submarines usually travel dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of meters below the surface.
In fact, the submarine moves in almost complete stillness, except for a few minor jolts here and there. The only noises on board the vessel come from the people and the whirring equipment.
Drills Drills Drills
Part of the mundane routine onboard a submarine includes countless drills. Three of the most important drills are fire, flooding, and reactor drills. An additional type of drill addresses various battle scenarios.
Even when the submarine is docking at port, the crews are required to carry out drills. This is necessary to maintain readiness for all scenarios. Another type of drill is called a torpedo “hot run”. It implies a scenario in which a torpedo unintentionally goes off onboard the submarine.
Like any other complex machine, a submarine requires a high degree of maintenance to ensure that it continues to operate smoothly while on operational deployment at sea. Therefore, sailors devote many hours of their day (and night) to fixing, repairing, and taking care of every valve and hatch.
This, of course, also includes the maintenance of the electronic equipment and the launch tubes. This maintenance actually bites into the sailors’ time off. There is a little rest for the sailors, even when they are off duty, so it seems.
This may just be unique to American submariners, but since boys will be boys, this makes sense. Sometimes, when the conditions permit it, sailors will “slide” down the submarine’s corridors when it performs steep depth changes.
This doesn’t happen every day of course, but when it does, it looks like a small holiday for the mariners. They would need, however, to secure their commanders’ approval before doing anything silly such as this.
Another weird ritual on board a submarine is the halfway moment of the patrol or the deployment. This is usually celebrated with a great, sumptuous, meal. Just to give you an idea, the meal may include lobsters, prime rib, or even a NY strip steak.
It also includes just a generally festive atmosphere. Another part of these celebrations includes throwing pies at your favorite crew member, excluding the captain, because you know, it’s the captain.
If you thought that training and qualification stop the moment you leave the shore, you’ve got it wrong. When sailors are not on duty, doing drills, or standing watch, they use their time to improve their professional skills and qualifications.
The learning process continues while they are already at sea. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure they know everything that there is to know about their sector. This is a lot to take in, given the fact that modern submarines have thousands of valves, pumps, pipes, and other sorts of sophisticated equipment.
This is considered to be pretty rare but does happen from time to time nonetheless. Whenever a submarine gets a chance to cross the Arctic Circle, its members get to paint their noses blue.
US Navy submarines visit the North Pole pretty rarely, maybe once every two to three years, so the number of people in the force who actually earned their blue noses is pretty low. Usually, if a submarine is passing through that area it is because it is doing a fleet transfer.
Steel Beach Picnic
It’s not all dark and gloomy onboard a submarine. Sometimes, when the weather conditions are nice, and the captain is in a good mood, the vessel will resurface and the sailors can climb on top and do a quick BBQ.
The cooks will send burgers and hotdogs from the kitchen and everyone will get a chance to chill a little and enjoy the fresh air. However, some members of the crew will of course have to stay and maintain a watch at the bridge.
Sometimes the submarine will resurface to allow some recreation time for the fatigued sailors. Whenever the conditions permit it, the captain can authorize the submarine to resurface so the sailor can enjoy a little swim — in the middle of the ocean.
To ensure their safety, someone is required to keep watch, in case of sharks. Some sailors use this opportunity to get some necessary vitamin D, while others just enjoy the fresh air.
The Mail Buoy
Like in any other branch of the armed forces, pranks are an important part of the military tradition. Submarines are no different in this respect. One funny prank that the newbies have to endure is the request to retrieve the mail buoy.
A mail sack is supposedly attached to a buoy and one of the new sailors on board the submarine has to get dressed in foul weather gear, approach the captain, and request permission to climb on top to retrieve the mail. The request is denied — of course — because there is no such a thing as a mail buoy.
Another aspect of life onboard a US Navy submarine includes this funny prank, which is again done on newly enlisted sailors who recently joined the submarine force. This prank usually happens during maintenance time. The “chief” would ask one of the new sailors to go to the supply deck and ask for “relative bearing grease.”
When the sailor would get there, the supply officer would reply that they gave the last canister to some other maintenance crew. This would require the sailor to run and chase after various crews around the submarine in a vain attempt to fulfill the order.
Away from Home
Since submariners have virtually very limited contact with the outside world, this means they do not get much news from home. Sometimes this also means they would have to miss college graduations, births, and other happy occasions.
As part of their routine, and before going on another voyage, they write letters to their wives or kids, leaving something of them for the time they are away. Some even pre-order gifts for their loved ones in case they have to miss out on the holidays.
Shooting Water Slugs
When you are stuck in a tin can, underwater, for long periods of time, no wonder you have time to come up with stupid and funny pranks. Submarines exercise torpedo launching procedures every week.
They fill the torpedo tube with air and “shoot” it into the ocean. This is called shooting water slugs. The new sailors who are unaware of this funny name are often requested to head to the engine room to get a pail of water slugs.
It’s not always the newbies who get to be pranked. Sometimes the entire crew will pull a prank on one of the more senior officers on the submarine, which may include the Executive Office. The electrician will tap into the lighting system in the officer’s stateroom (living quarters), and start playing around with them whenever the officer is there.
The officer would, of course, send for the electrician who would confirm that there is nothing wrong with the lights. This is a great way to mess around with your Executive Officer, at your own risk.
Surprisingly, unlike their counterparts in the US Navy, sailors on board British submarines actually get to “talk” to their families once a week. By talking we mean that they are allowed to send (and receive) a single message of no more than 60 characters.
Sometimes, both sides would do away with the punctuation and use contracted forms of communication to cram as much information as possible into those extremely short messages. This is sure to keep the sailors going when they have to spend some 150 days at sea.
While it is known that the Navy is less strict about its submariners growing beards and long hair, sometimes even these guys need to get a haircut. Officially, however, there is no barber onboard a submarine.
Usually, one or two members of the crew who know something about trimming beards and doing decent haircuts will be called to the task. By usually, we mean that sometimes sailors settle for someone who simply knows how to hold a pair of scissors.
As part of the routine aboard a submarine, a special day is dedicated from time to time for cleaning the submarine. This day is ironically called “field day”. When hearing the order “sweepers, sweepers man your brooms!” over the PA, sailors would pick up cleaning supplies and start scrubbing and cleaning the floors — quietly.
On other submarines, sailors will use sponges or foxtails (hand brooms) to clean the floors because there isn’t enough space to swing brooms.
A Unique Smell
Since the people aboard a submarine operate in a closed environment, this means that the air they breathe is constantly being recycled. This means that once the hatch is sealed, all you would smell is a combination of oil, amine, and body odors.
Amine, in case you didn’t know, is a special chemical substance that is used to remove carbon dioxide from the air. While it is very useful and essentially enables these submarines to move underwater for long periods of time, it’s pretty stinky.
Spending weeks and sometimes even months without any communication with the outside world is not for everyone. Although the sailors serving aboard a submarine go through a rigorous selection process and training until they are admitted to the ranks of the submarine corps, in rare cases, some crack under the pressure.
When this happens, the submarine’s medical officer is authorized to issue medications (mostly sedatives) and confine the sailor. By confine, we mean that they are put under watch in the living quarters.
Jack of All Trades
Submariners spend hours upon hours mastering their primary occupation. This means, for example, that a sonar operator will spend a lot of time mastering the skills and knowledge needed to work the sonar systems.
However, this doesn’t end there. Every submariner also has to learn about systems and equipment that are outside their area of expertise. This way, for example, a sonar operator would study the work of the engineers who are in charge of maintaining the ship’s nuclear reactor and vice versa.
A funny prank that submariners like to play on their Executive Officer is stealing their stateroom door. Since these officers are usually good-natured and friendly, albeit having perhaps a difficult job, they usually go along with it.
The XO is responsible for all the administrative aspects involved in running the submarine, including drills. Usually, the XO knows who are the sailors that stole the door and takes measures to convince them to return it.
The Art of Flat
There is no need to reiterate the fact that submarines have to economize on space. This means that the passageways between submarine compartments are quite narrow. They are in fact designed for relatively thin people.
This means that whenever sailors need to pass simultaneously they have to make themselves as “flat” as possible. This gets worse when someone has to rush through. Usually, the rushing party would just shout “make way, coming through” to make sure everyone makes an effort to squeeze themselves out of the way.
A Friendship that Lasts
People who serve together and fight together usually form an unbreakable bond. This is especially true for people who served onboard a submarine. When you spend months upon months (and sometimes years upon years) stuck in a submerged tin can you are likely to form strong bonds with your comrades.
Sailors often report that years after being discharged they still hold reunions and feel like they’ve never parted — this is true comradeship@
While this may sound obvious, there is more to it. When the submarine is at port, non-governmental electronic devices are not allowed near it, for information security reasons.
There is a special box (outside the submarine) where the sailors can leave their cellphones. At sea, however, certain electronic devices are allowed but are strictly forbidden in certain areas of the vessel. Cellphones, as stated, cannot be brought aboard a submarine given the fact that they can be easily hacked by foreign entities.
This may come as a surprise, but submarines are not (yet) technically equipped with air defense capabilities. While on the one hand, this would make perfect sense, since this is a sea platform designed to carry underwater operations, on the other hand, it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have to defend itself against, say, anti-submarine helicopters.
Interestingly enough, the German Navy is developing an interactive defense and attack system for submarines, which is designed to tackle these kinds of threats.
Women Are Allowed
The military has always been an institution that was intended for men. It seems that men have been fighting men since the dawn of time, while women stood by and watched.
In the latter half of the 20th century, with the changing nature of warfare and the public’s general attitude towards military service, many positions that were only open to men have started being offered to women as well. Women were allowed to join the US Navy’s submarine force starting from 2010.
Following the fact that submarines were originally designed with male sailors in mind, the navy had to make some serious changes to its submarines after making the decision of allowing women on board.
These changes included the installation of separate facilities for women. Although these changes were modest in scope, and primarily done to the Ohio-class submarines. The Navy’s future submarines, including those that are currently under construction, like the USS Jersey, and the Colombia-class submarines, will be “gender-neutral.”
How Do You Even Drive This Thing?
Ever wondered how you even pilot a submarine? Every submarine has a section called “conn.” It’s a raised platform in the middle of the control center. The officer of the watch typically sits there and maintains the watch. This is also where the submarine’s periscopes are.
The officer has a double responsibility while maintaining the watch. He or she is responsible for the “deck” which is supervision, control, and responsibility for all aspects of the submarine. Additionally, the “conn” responsibility means that she or she is responsible for piloting the vessel.
Ever wondered what happens when a submarine is spotted by the enemy? Within seconds an alarm will blare, indicating that torpedoes are zeroing in on the submarine. Luckily, not all is lost. US Navy submarines carry specific countermeasures that are designed to trick incoming torpedos.
These countermeasures are called “Mobile Submarine Simulator” or MOSS in short. It’s practically a decoy sonar that imitates the acoustic signature of a real submarine. It first entered service in 1976, and was used by all Navy ballistic submarines until the 1990s.
You might think that those who service onboard a nuclear-powered submarine have a higher chance of being exposed to lethal doses of nuclear radiation. Apparently, all US Navy’s nuclear submarines have four barriers of comprehensive shielding which preclude the risk of nuclear material leakage.
What’s even more surprising, according to government studies, the average submariner is exposed significantly less to radiation than the average US citizen at home during the same time period.
We know what some of you may think. All those who serve on board a submarine need to spend time in a diving chamber after surfacing and returning to base. Despite its misleading name, a diving chamber has nothing to do with submarines.
Well, at least not in this respect. A submarine is a water-tight and non-compressible vessel. It has the same pressure inside as you’d normally have above the surface.
Letter of Last Resort
The Royal Navy operates four nuclear-armed submarines. This means that in the event of a potential nuclear exchange, these submarines will be required to release their nuclear payload. However, the order must come directly from the prime minister.
Given the fact that the prime minister or any other senior member of the cabinet that has the authority to order a nuclear strike is incapacitated, each submarine commander receives a sealed envelope with precise orders as to what to do in such a scenario.
Five-Star Underwater Hotel
During the Cold War, the Soviets did their best to beat the Americans at everything, the submarines were no different in this respect. So, the Soviets came up with what is, to this day, the largest submarine class in the world — the typhoon.
These submarines had a sauna (banya), a cold water pool, a recreational area, a gym, and a cinema. We would expect nothing less for our comrades who serve for up to six months at sea!
Got Your Fish?
After a trainee-submariner completes their training phase, they get their dolphin pin. However, not many know that its not actually called a dolphin but a fish. “Fish” is the nickname for the submarine force formal insignia.
Once they have done with their basic training and earned their fish, the double letter “s” is added to their rank. It indicated: “submarine specialist.” The insignia of the submarine force is a submarine flanked by two dolphins, which honestly look more like fish.
Unfortunately, we don’t refer here to what would happen if you request to be transferred from the submarine while being on duty. We are actually talking about what happens to a sailor who is KIA.
Apparently, their body is put in a cooler until the operational conditions permit it to be transported ashore. It is usually done by helicopter, or by a direct transfer to a surface vessel. Sailors in the US Navy are never buried at sea.
This Is BBC 4
Given the fact that submarines usually operate in complete radio silence, their connection with the outer world is limited. While it’s vital that they remain silent and undetected for the entire duration of their mission, it’s also necessary for them to know whether or not their country is still standing.
One way to do it, at least in the Royal Navy, is to check whether or not BBC 4 is still broadcasting. In case it doesn’t, chances are that the British Government has been wiped off the face of the earth.
Still on Patrol
There is a longstanding tradition in the US Navy that pertains to submarines that never returned from their missions. If a submarine is presumed sunken or lost, its official status changes to “still on patrol.”
It’s a romantic way of saying that one day it will return home, while it’s obvious to everyone that this won’t happen. It doesn’t mean, however, that the navy won’t invest time and effort in finding out what exactly happened to those submarines that are presumed lost.
There is a weird tradition in the British Navy that enables submarine captains to fly the jolly roger (a pirate’s flag) whenever they sail back into port. The roots of this tradition go back to the 1900s.
Sir Arthur Wilson, the First Sea Lord of the British Navy, called submarines “underheard, unfair and so…un-English.” When the first British submarine torpedoed a German U-boat during WWI, its captain ordered the crew to manufacture a jolly roger which was flown from the mast.
Windows for Submarines
Ever wondered what operating system do they use onboard Royal Navy submarines? Perhaps you would opt for something extremely advanced, something that the general public hasn’t even heard of. Well, we hate to disappoint you.
British subs run on an outdated version of Windows XP for subs. Considering the fact that XP was released to the general public on October 25, 2001, and support for the system officially ended in 2019, this doesn’t sound very reassuring to us.
Ability to Sail Anywhere
Most countries throughout the world have their own submarines. Not all of these said countries are permitted to travel anywhere they want, though. From all these countries, the US holds the power to travel the whole world with their submarine without facing any detection.
They have long strike capabilities that make them more powerful than the rest of the world. So, you can see that it’s not easy work, but rather a critical role.
Do you know at what angle the entire ship ascends and descends? Any guesses? If you guessed 180°, we hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. In reality, when a submarine changes depth, the entire submarine will angle itself upwards/downwards almost 45° — which forces the crew to brace themselves while it moves.
So, with that in mind, you can imagine how it must feel for crew members aboard the submarine to ascend from and descend into the water.
Rocking the Curtains
Life inside the submarine can be pretty challenging, especially because you could be gone for weeks or months at a time. And while there will be times that you miss home and your loved ones, your fellow crew members will become your family — and family is there for you no matter what, through thick and thin.
It’s hard not to become so close considering all the time you’re spending together. So, although you may find yourself getting homesick here and there, the bonds you create with your fellow crew members will be unbreakable.
Turn the Lights Down Low
When your journey aboard a submarine begins, there are a few things to do. First, they check for leaks (as we mentioned previously), then they complete the tasks that have been assigned to them, and then they turn all of the lights off.
No — this isn’t some sort of ritual but rather a chance to get some shut-eye before the chaos and work truly begins.
The Neptune Captain
The people living aboard submarines are constantly looking for ways to have fun and keep themselves enthused despite their usual daily routine.
The crew members arrange a dress-up game in which they make their own clothes and dress up as women. If you think the captain doesn’t participate, well, think again! In fact, the captain usually dresses up as the Neptune.