When my wife has retired later this year we intend to hit the road big time. We are aiming to travel light (single hand luggage bag) so I want a compact rather than my DSLR. I also insist on AA batteries as cannot guarantee access to recharge options. Having trouble finding almost anything that isn't rechargeable batteries. Is there anything decent? Or will I have to buy an older second hand model?
Yes, there are still many compact cameras that use AA batteries.
Here is a camera search link that allows you to search only cameras with AA batteries: DP Review Camera Search (under "Physical" you can select AA batteries)
All these cameras use AA batteries