Earlier this week, my brother and his wife jetted off to Australia. The pair flew via Kuala Lumpur, where they spent four days, before travelling to Sydney to rendezvous with their daughter and her husband who have lived down under for a few years. The visiting pair, who plan to spend six weeks in Australia touring via a combination of train, plane and automobile, have joined a burgeoning group of travel-hungry friends and relatives who have either retired or announced plans to do so over the past year.

Nowadays, lunchtime texts to pals suggesting a quick, after-work beer are likely to receive replies along the lines of: “Sorry, no. We’re in Portugal” or “Can’t do Monday – we’re off to the States”.

It would appear that either I’ve become the archetypal Billy No-Mates or the pandemic-inspired trend for Baby Boomers to turn their back to the grindstone and wind-down is gathering pace.

The early part of retirement is considered a golden period when people expect to enjoy the luxury of uninterrupted holidays, pursuing hobbies or entertaining friends and family, assuming they’re not swanning off to Australia for six weeks, of course.

Granted, many retirees would say this picture is significantly rosier than real life. Yet for future generations, the gap between this idyllic scenario and reality is likely to be considerably wider, especially if their only source of post-retirement income is the state pension.

Millions of people rely solely upon the state pension, forced to endure a frugal retirement devoid of luxuries such as short overseas breaks. Despite this, a worryingly large number of younger people are often complacent about saving for old age. Yet they are the group best placed to build up large nest eggs by the end of their working lives thanks to one extremely valuable asset: time.

They should make the most of it because there’s a very good chance that the age at which people become eligible to receive the state pension will continue to rise. Provision was made in the Pensions Act 2007 for the age threshold to be reviewed on a regular basis. At present, the state pension age is 66. This will rise to age 67 in six years and to age 68 between 2044-46. Some financial advisers believe that anyone aged under 30 will have to wait until well beyond their 70th birthday before receiving a state pension.

Of course, this assumes there’ll be anything left in the state pension pot by then. According to a document published by the government’s actuaries, the National Insurance fund, from which pensions are drawn, will run dry by 2033 unless taxes rise or huge sums of money are poured into the pot.

Even if we assume a combination of both, the state pension is far from a King’s ransom. At present, females born after April 6, 1953 and males born after April 6, 1951 receive £185.15 a week. The exact figure depends upon the level of National Insurance Contributions (NIC) made during your working life. To receive a full pension, a minimum of 35 years’ NIC is required.

It’s estimated that there are more than 8.7 million households with at least one person of state pension age, with around 1.4 million of these solely reliant upon the state pension.

Though many younger people dismiss pensions as dull, they need to ask themselves how much fun they could have during retirement when money is tight.

It follows that there’s great merit in viewing the state pension as a retirement starting point used to cover basic expenditures. In order to do those things earmarked for retirement, however, most people will need to supplement this by drawing upon their own savings or a private pension or both. Deciding how much to save is dependent on the kind of lifestyle you want to enjoy, your current age, when you start saving and your present earnings.

As a rule of thumb, people should aim to save around 12pc of their gross salary into a retirement pot – a figure which includes their own and their employer’s contribution. It’s worth noting that total workplace pension contributions equate to a minimum of 8pc of gross salary, leaving a shortfall of between 4-5pc.

Climbing onto the long-term savings ladder at an early age will have enormous benefits by the time you retire. You might, however, feel bad when a mate’s text suggests an after-work drink and you advise him or her that while you’d love to, you’re away right now and back in a few weeks…

For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular blog, The Week In Numbers.

This column is for general information only and cannot be relied on as financial advice for individuals. Consult your professional adviser.