Retirement Travel: 9 Concrete Ways to Make Your Dreams a Reality
Retirement seems to be the universal time to think about traveling extensively, but travel can be expensive, especially if you want to cross the oceans. If your retirement funds aren’t as much as you’d like them to be, you might believe that you’re stuck in the same town doing the same things year after year. But as with most everything else in life, you do have options.Even if you’re on a fixed income, you can get out and see at least part of the world. It takes a slightly different mindset from traditional travel where you simply book a flight and a room, and then pack your bags and go. But if you’re open to a different approach, you might be packing your bags sooner than you thought.
1. Spend Time and Save Money!
The beauty of retirement is that you have time. You do not have a clock to punch or other specific demands on your days.
As such, you can plan travel with practically unlimited time. Done right, this can save you money and be much more enjoyable.
When you were working and had kids at home, you really needed to pack things in on a specific deadline. In retirement, you can plan longer and slower trips. And while longer might sound more expensive, it is not if you do it right.
Imagine you wanted to see Spain and Italy. When working, you either have to see very little of each place in a short period of time or take two trips. Two trips is double the airfare and if you are trying to squeeze it all into one trip, then you might be paying a premium for hotels close to the things you want to see and other conveniences that make seeing everything possible.
Everything is different in retirement. You can take two months and see two, three or more locations in one trip — dramatically reducing your airfare costs. And with time, you can rent apartments or other lower cost accommodations, cook some meals in your rented home, walk instead of taking taxis — all of which can dramatically decrease your daily spend and also enable you to really enjoy being in the location instead of packing it all in.
In retirement, with the luxury of time you can take fewer longer and slower trips instead of many fast and furious trips.
2. Find Inexpensive Housing and Use Your Own Home to Help Fund Travel
Airbnb and VRBO are popular services that enable you to rent apartments, condos, houseboats, tree houses, single family homes, and even compounds. You will be amazed to see that all kinds of homes are available for rent all over the United States and remote corners of the world. Best of all, the amount you pay per night is often much less than what a hotel would cost plus you get a kitchen and more — sometimes the homes even come with cars or other transportation perks.
Think that sounds great? It gets even better… you can also list your own home on these services and actually get income on your house while you are away.
HomeExchange is a service that matches homeowners for a housing swap. Thousands of people exchange houses every year and love the experiences and connections that are made.
3. Don’t Be Shy About Senior Discounts
One of the biggest perks about reaching retirement age is the senior discounts. You can find them at hotels, restaurants, and you might even luck into a discounted flight once in a while. Any time you can save money by embracing your age, do it and reap the rewards.
Bankrate’s article, “5 Tips to Affordable Retirement Travel,” says using a AAA travel card and an AARP membership card can help you claim even more discounts than the ones you get from showing the birth date on your driver’s license.
Using the right credit cards can earn you travel discounts.
4. Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
You are retired. You do not need to travel on a specific date and be home by a certain time. This flexibility can save you significant money.
There are lots of articles and tools for finding the cheapest airfare. If you can be flexible with your exact dates of travel — even by just a day or two — then you will likely save hundreds of dollars on airfare. For example, flying on Christmas day is usually significantly cheaper than flying on Christmas Eve.
Furthermore, airfare is often different from one day to the next. When booking a ticket, try flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. These are typically the cheapest days to fly, USA Today explains why. And, web sites like kayak.com enable you to see average ticket prices for an entire month instead of just the day you are planning to travel.
5. Travel During the Off Season
There’s peak season, and then there is off season for nearly any travel destination. Even a sunny locale has its off season, and that’s when you can save money. Hotels and flights are usually cheaper during these times than when tourist season is in full swing.
One downside to traveling this way is that it’s usually off season for a reason. Maybe it’s not as warm, or it’s time for the rains to settle in. But that’s not true for every destination. Do a little homework to learn when the off-season is for the places you want to visit, and look into what you can expect weather-wise.
6. Look for Last Minute Deals
There are so many web sites offering last minute deals. If you can stay flexible, you can save a ton of money and travel a lot. And best of all, there are last minute deals across all categories — budget to luxury.
Here are a few sites to look at:
In addition to the sites above, you might check with specific airlines for last minute deals. For example, every week, American Airlines offers a variety of Net SAAver Weekend Getaway fares, including domestic fares for both this weekend and the next, and international fares for the next weekend. (From the airline’s Web site, click on Travel Deals and then Sale Fares.)
7. Use Your Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Many retirees use credit conservatively, which isn’t altogether unwise. But credit cards that give cash back or points and travel rewards, such as the well-known frequent flier miles, can help you score cheap flights to nearly any destination.
If you don’t have credit cards with these benefits, then get one or two. The Frugal Travel Guy blog recommends a Chase Sapphire Preferred card to help you avoid using any of your retirement savings to fund travel plans. How is that possible? When you make purchases using the card, you earn points that you can redeem toward travel costs.
8. Work and Travel
Can’t quite afford not working? Many retirees travel and get temporary work. If you like camping, you can oversee camp sites or work part time in the hospitality industry at popular locations. Like cruises? Have you considered working for one? Like skiing? How about a seasonal job at a ski resort? These types of jobs can supplement income and get you to the places you want to be!
Or maybe you really should not yet retire from your current job, but you really want to travel. Have you considered taking a sabbatical from work so that you can see the places you want to see now, but continue to work and save for your retirement? Learn more about how a work sabbatical can really save your retirement.
Sometimes dreaming and planning for a trip is half the fun.
9. Have a Solid Retirement Plan and Budget for Travel
In December of 2013, Time Magazine reported that “Travel in retirement is a goal worth saving for.” However, almost no one includes money for travel in their retirement plans. According to a study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies with the Global Coalition on Aging and U.S. Travel Association:
- 71% consider travel in retirement an important goal worth saving for
- 47% regard it not as a luxury but a necessity
- But ONLY 15% place a high priority on saving for travel
Don’t let your retirement slip by without seeing the places you’ve always wanted to go. The world is still out there waiting, and being clever can help you check off bucket list destinations as well as anyone else.
NewRetirement can help you learn to build a financial cushion that makes travel more attainable, too. Even if you are already retired, you still have options for better financial growth and smarter choices.
If you’re just in the retirement planning stage, starting now can open up more of those destination possibilities later. With NewRetirement, you’ll find strategies and options that can help you live the retirement of your dreams, whether it’s now or many years in the future. Click here to learn how.