How Do You Travel on a Retirement Budget?
The vistas. The glorious landscapes. The sunsets. The quaint towns, the adventures. The sights and sounds of traveling. All of it. But is it lost—once you retire?
After all, you’re transitioning to a fixed income. Your budget is tight. Traditional wisdom for your golden years fixes you firmly at home, maybe, using the bleakest of clichés, in a rocking chair on the back porch.
No longer are the opportunities available for travel. With the luster of your more vibrant years supposedly behind you, you just have to accept the reality that hitting the open road, or the clear blue skies, is no longer an option: now is the time for pinching pennies and tending to creaky joints.
You simply must quench your wayward spirit, right? Wrong! While you may have to make some adjustments, traveling on a retirement budget3 is more than just a possibility. It’s a very practical and exciting opportunity to pursue a lifestyle that was likely not completely available to you during your working years.
After all, arranging times for travel while gainfully employed, for most of us, involved devising careful plans around busy work and family schedules. Now that you’re retired, you set the time. You go when it’s convenient for you. You hit the open road when you feel good and ready.
But how do you do it on your retirement budget? Grab your keys and let’s explore. Here are some tips to get you moving:
Despite the possibility you may have considerably more time on your hands, you still have to do some budget planning. You have to count the cost, literally, which is a good thing. How much do you expect lodging to cost? What about estimated food costs? Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there? Consider all of your expenses.
“The travel budget needs to be set as part of your overall financial plan,” said Patti Black, a certified financial planner in Birmingham, Alabama.
You can plan ahead for a trip by putting money in a separate account for traveling expenses. If your projected expenses exceed your budgeted amount, do some financial trimming. As you build your savings for an upcoming trip, you may decide to eat out less or forgo other home-bound projects. It’s a simple matter of prioritizing. And the open road offers quite an allure.
“I think you have choices with how you spend your dollars,” said retired school secretary Sharon Ellison. “What’s important to you: a new car or a trip to Europe?”
The 62-year-old woman and her husband, who have a modest retirement income, have vacationed in Europe five times in their retirement.
You still have lots of time ahead of you. So, develop a timeline. Map out the details of your trip. Schedule it. If you’re flying, booking early will allow you to get better rates. The same goes for costs for accommodations.
“Think through what you want to do every day of your trip,” said Patricia Hajifotiou, owner of a tour company in Greece. “Write it down, and then right beside that, write what that is going to cost.”
Flex Those Traveling Plans
We’re not talking muscles. We’re talking dates, times, destinations. Keep your traveling vision in focus. You have your heart set on strolling beautiful, pristine beaches. Well, if it’s just beach views you’re looking for, you don’t necessarily have to travel thousands of miles to Hawaii, Patong, or Maui. Florida has fantastic beach. California beaches are an absolute splash as well.
If it’s just the beaches, for example, that are drawing you, you can also factor in more cost-saving times for visiting. While most travelers from the working world may be looking at more convenient or popular times, such as weekends and the traditional holiday season, you can target mid-week times, which helps you to avoid the crowds and the higher travel costs.
“Consider drawing out trips and traveling slower,” said Joseph Conroy, a certified financial planner and financial consultant in Maryland. “Take more time in each city and try to live like a local.”
Back to the Future
Let’s take the time to talk a little more about time. This is an important subject. It’s kind of like rush hour on a grander scale. So, you’re thinking about Disney World in the spring or summer or Times Square around New Year’s, right? Hold on, unless you prefer the crowds and the higher costs. Do the research to learn when the busy—and slow—seasons are for your destination. Then plan accordingly. You save money. You avoid the sharps elbows of the big crowds. And you’re able to enjoy it more.
Dig up the Deals
Websites provide some outstanding travel deals. You can get discounts on flights, cruises, and hotels from Kayak and Google Flights. Airbnb provides some fabulous and considerably less costly accommodations for travelers. VRBO lets travelers find vacation-house deals. You may also want to explore tour group packages to lower costs.
On the Go
Careful investigation of local transportation arrangements may allow you to cut costs even more. Let’s say you’re flying to a big city thousands of miles away. What about using public transportation in those urban areas. After all, driving around crowded downtowns in a rental can be hectic, confusing, and expensive.
Many big cities (New York City, Chicago, San Francisco) offer discounted public-transportation passes for a day, a week, or longer. If you’ve just looking to enjoy the urban life—museums, restaurants, galleries—you might want to consider driving to a nearby big city. The United States has more than 100 cities with populations greater than 200,000 residents. After all, do you really need to go to a city of 5 million busy residents?
You got to eat. And you want to eat well. However, to manage expenses, you may want to consider booking accommodations that provide breakfasts and have refrigerators and microwave ovens. This helps reduce the cost of restaurant dining for every meal. You can even shop at local markets for specialty items.
Attracted to the Attractions
If you love going to attractions, do some attraction shopping first. Explore local event calendars, chambers of commerce activities events, and tourism sites. You may discover the small, less-traveled attractions just as delightful as the large ones—and a whole lot less expensive. Many communities provide wonderful events and festivities which deliver some of the best and surprisingly delightful entertainment offerings, real hidden gems off the proverbial beaten track.
Take the Discounts
You may not want to broadcast to the world that you’re a senior. But many places offer senior discounts that can save you a lot of money over time. Many organizations provide members with special discounts. Explore this list of senior discounts: The Senior List.
These organizations provide travel discounts: AAA, AARP, American Seniors Association, Association of Mature American Citizens, CAP, National Association of Conservative Seniors, and The Seniors Coalition.
Choose Your Rewards
Have you earned points on loyalty programs for hotel stays, airline flights or credit card use? Use the points. That’s what the points are for. It’s time to put them to good use. What time is better than now?
Traveling on a retirement budget can be fun and affordable. All it takes is a little planning and a whole lot of anticipation.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite, LLC, is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.