East or west, home is best

Indeed - contrary to popular belief - the majority (61%) of this age group have no desire to move overseas and prefer to holiday close to home or in an English-speaking country.

The top five destinations where M&S Credit Card customers use their card are USA, France, Spain, Ireland and Italy.

Research conducted by the Institute of Public Policy Research in 2006 showed 8% of British pensioners were living abroad with a prediction that one in five pensioners would retire overseas in 2050. The new findings from M&S Money suggest that the appetite to retire abroad has slowed considerably over the past four years, with pensioners preferring to stay closer to home, possibly a reflection on the difficult economic times faced my many older people in the last few years.

With people retiring on average at 63 and a half years old, they might be expected to use the early years of their retirement to realise their dreams of seeing the world with extensive travel. However, 44% of 61-70 year olds would prefer a break of less than two weeks, and 38% of three weeks to a month. The inclination to travel for long periods falls as people age, with those aged 50-60 (8%) more willing to travel for six months to a year than those aged 61 - 70 (5%).

While most people would prefer to continue living in the UK, 12% would look to buy a second home overseas and 10% to move overseas permanently. However, with Europe (24%) being the most popular spot to purchase a home, it is safe to assume that even these adventurers would be making regular return trips to the UK.

One possible reason behind the reluctance to undertake longer holidays or leaving the UK completely, is the desire to spend time with family and friends. Indeed, married (3%) and widowed (3%) individuals are less likely to have a gap year than the recently separated (11%) who may wish to leave their troubles behind and make a fresh start.

Colin Kersley, chief executive of M&S Money commented: "Irrespective of whether you have aspirations to undertake serious travel when you reach 50 or simply to enjoy two weeks in the sun, these costs all add up. And with the increasing pressure on people's pension pots, it is important to start planning your finances early to ensure that you have the sufficient funds to allow you to make that choice."