Travel More (but Spend Less) in Retirement

By K. Bridget Schneider, CFP®, CRPC®

travel more

It’s official! The summer vacation season is underway. Many popular vacation spots are booked to capacity. The airports and interstates will be filled with families hurrying to their chosen getaway spot to spend as much time as their wallets or employers will allow before getting back to their regular day to day schedules. There will be crying at the airports and fighting in the back seats of the cars. While traveling can be exciting, it certainly doesn’t sound relaxing, does it?

Perhaps that is one reason many of us dream of traveling in retirement. Not that hurry-scurry type of travel, but a more leisurely pace. The kind of travel that allows you to relax and enjoy seeing new places or experiencing different cultures. You know, the kinds of places the kids would have grumbled about. Ah, but spending that kind of time will be expensive you say. Think of the hotels and restaurants!

Travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several ways to lower the cost of visiting destinations on your travel bucket list. Perhaps some of these ideas will get you on your way.

  • One of the biggest advantages retirees have over the rest of us is their flexibility. Costs of travel during peak times can be much higher due to the increase in demand, but much lower at non-peak times. Your travel dollar will stretch further if you choose to travel at off-peak times. In addition, even the most popular destinations will be less crowded during these times so your vacation may be more enjoyable.
  • There are many travel discounts you may be eligible for at a certain age. Organizations such as AARP offer deals for members on rental cars, hotels, cruises, and flights. Even though you pay an annual membership fee to access them, these could still provide substantial cost reductions. Also, some travel-related companies offer their own discounts at no additional charge. Check out Retired Brains and AARP to see what you may be missing.
  • You might consider extending your stay because generally the longer you stay the lower your average daily costs will be. You may be able to negotiate discounts on accommodations for longer stays. Besides, if you have a more leisurely schedule, you can truly explore an area. You might learn to use mass transportation rather than taking expensive taxis!
  • Speaking of where you will stay, going through Airbnb or VRBO, rather than staying in a pricey hotel, may lower your accommodation costs and provide more local flavor. If you have a permanent home that you’re willing to allow other people use, then house-swapping could be a great option for you. There are many house-swapping sites that make the process simple and safe, and there are even some specifically dedicated to seniors, such as Home Exchange.

Ultimately, I think the most important step to traveling in retirement is simply making it a priority. Make a bucket list of all the experiences you want to have and all the places you want to visit. This will provide you with the inspiration to talk with friends and family about your plans. It also helps to hold you accountable to yourself and makes it much harder to find excuses to back out. Life is to be lived, so go enjoy yourself!

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