You spent your entire life working hard for your career, your family, and the community. Now it’s time to see the sights and enjoy all that the world has to offer. The only problem is that you no longer have an income to support your adventurous hobbies. Never fear— there are ways to experience it all without watching your life savings dwindle. Here are our tips on how to make the most out of your travel budget when you’re retired.
Some of the best ways to save money when you’re planning a trip actually have nothing to do with travel whatsoever. Take precautions before your vacation to cut costs by setting the thermostat according to the weather and using up all the food in the refrigerator before you leave. HomeAdvisor goes into greater detail about how to prepare your home before you leave for vacation.
Get Creative With Lodging
There are hundreds of thousands of people just like you who want to travel the world within their budget restrictions. One of the biggest restrictions can be finding affordable accommodations, but HomeExchange provides an inexpensive solution to this problem. With more than 400,000 homes in 187 different countries, organizing a home exchange allows you to connect with other like-minded travelers for a more personal experience.
If the open road is on your itinerary, consider renting — or buying — a motorhome. Costs vary, of course, but you can pretty easily find a Class A, B, or C motorhome for $100 to $150 per night. There will also be out-of-pocket campground fees, which are typically no more than $25 per night and offer up lots of opportunities to meet other like-minded seniors.
If camping and international travel aren’t on your agenda, there are plenty of unusual places to see near home. For example, the National Park system, which includes everything from Yosemite in California to Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland State Park, boasts cabins, cottages, and inns that are affordable and in close proximity to the natural wonders of the nation.
Ask for a Senior Discount
You can keep a little jingle in your pocket by flashing the silver in your hair. Most businesses in the travel and tourism industry — including cruise lines and rental car agencies — offer respectable discounts for seniors.
Hotels, restaurants, and tour services usually follow suit. Discounts may be modest separately, but when combined, they can help you save big bucks on a week-long vacation. If you can get 15 percent off a rental car ($500/week) and a hotel ($200/night x five nights), you’re looking at a savings of approximately $225.
Senior discounts can kick in as young as age 50, so make sure you ask if a business offers one!
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you're through with your work in the world. If you have significant experience in education, healthcare, or environmental conservation, you may qualify for no- to low-cost travel to exotic locations around the globe.
In exchange for a few volunteer hours, you can experience Costa Rica, Kenya, South Africa, or Latin America. There are even volunteer programs that can take you straight to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. You can take your pick from Volunteer Forever's recently updated international volunteer opportunities for seniors list.
No matter where the wind takes you, you can stick to your goals of saving money by simply eating local foods. Avoid chain restaurants and stick with mom-and-pop diners and small businesses or, better yet, buy your own food at the farmers market. More than just being better for you, buying local helps the community and ensures you’re getting the highest quality food on your plate.
It doesn’t take a full-time income to enjoy an amazing vacation. All you really need is a desire to see the world, an AARP card, and an adventurous spirit.