Travel is far and away the number one goal for retirees. But experiencing adventures on the road and abroad in our golden years can be expensive. Fortunately, there are many ways you can prepare to travel affordably. Here are six suggestions to help you see the world while you save on retirement travel:
Make Travel Plans Before You Retire
Thinking about where and when you’d like to travel before you retire is a good way to ensure you go on the adventures you’ve dreamed of. Making specific travel plans will make you more likely to prepare for them, motivate you to get up and go, and help you save money in advance. Early preparation will also help you travel earlier in your retirement before you hit your advanced years. You probably won’t be able to travel throughout your retirement, since most of us slow down as we get older.
Budget With a Cushion in Mind
The cost of travel is typically underestimated, so it’s a good idea to budget high and plan for extra costs. Calculate expenses by doing research and creating a spreadsheet of how much you might spend on lodging, food, airfare, admissions to sites, souvenirs and more. As you get older, you should also consider travel funds for health care. When you make your budget, give yourself a cushion of at least 20 percent and make sure to factor in inflation. If you end up with more money than you need for a particular trip, you can always upgrade your trip or save the surplus for a different vacation.
You can save a lot of money on lodging by swapping houses with someone who lives where you’re visiting, especially if your trip is long term. For a small membership fee (less than $100), you can join Home Exchange or Intervac International Home Exchange and browse houses around the globe. To save on retirement travel with this option, make sure you get a signed exchange document that lays out house rules before committing.
Manage Travel Rewards
Using a rewards credit card to pay for your vacation is a good way to earn cash back or travel rewards that you can use for your next vacation. Just make sure you pay for your trip in full after it ends so you don’t incur interest. Along with credit cards, many travel industry businesses like hotels, airlines, rental car places and restaurants have rewards programs. Sign up and every time you travel, you’ll earn discounts or even free travel. If you’re a member of AARP or AAA, or if you’re a veteran, make sure you mention that when you book to get discounts as well.
Travel in the Off-Season
Now that you are retired you can travel at any time, so take advantage of the less expensive late morning or afternoon flights when pricing and travel times are lower. It’s usually cheaper to fly between Monday through Wednesday, instead of Thursday through Saturday. You should also try to book a hotel when tourism is low and there aren’t holidays around the corner.
Consider Travel Insurance
Travel insurance should be something you consider when you’re going on a long trip. As an older traveler you could experience health issues that may prevent a trip or derail it. Travel insurance can help you recover some of the costs if you have medical reason.
Looking for other ways to maximize your retirement? Read “Squeezing More Pleasure From Retirement.”