Beautiful vistas, glorious landscapes, sunsets, quaint towns and exciting adventures. The sights and sounds of traveling. Are they lost once you retire?
Retirement generally means transitioning to a fixed income, but the image of fixing yourself in a rocking chair on the front porch is outdated. Opportunities for travel and writing your own next chapter are abundantly available, if you plan in advance to make these things happen.
In fact, these may be some of the best times of your life now that traditional life restraints aren’t holding you back. Your children are out of the house. There’s no need to worry about getting back for work. You can adjust your family schedules to suit your needs. All of these factors mean you get to set the time and agenda.
So, how do you travel on a retirement budget? Let’s explore:
Despite the possibility that 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. Start with your dream destinations and write out a rough estimate of which year you’ll tackle those trips. Then, determine smaller destinations to come up with an overall idea of how much travel you plan to do each year.
Then, get into the specifics. How much do you expect lodging to cost? What about estimated food costs? How are you going to get there? Are there any trips that will require special attire, equipment or out of the ordinary purchases? Consider all your expenses.
If travel is a priority of yours in retirement, make sure it is addressed in your overall financial plan.
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 some home 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.
When you’re ready to plan the particulars of each specific trip, map out the details well ahead of time. 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 talking dates, times, and destinations while keeping your traveling vision in focus. If you have your heart set on strolling beautiful, pristine beaches, you don’t necessarily have to travel thousands of miles to Hawaii or Patong. You can keep your destination continental by visiting Florida, California or other coastal destinations.
Because you have the flexibility of retirement, 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.
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 with the grandkids in the spring or summer or Times Square around New Year’s, right? You might want to reconsider, unless you are going for a specific experience, or 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 sharp elbows of the big crowds. And you’re able to enjoy it more.
Utilize Resources to Your Preferences
Websites that offer travel deals can also offer great ideas. Consider checking out travel packages to learn about adventures happening at your preferred destination or working with travel agents to get special opportunities of which many travelers aren’t even aware. If you prefer a more relaxing vibe, consider looking for group tours that allow you to hit highlights of a city and then plan time on your own for the remainder of the trip. This way you don’t feel like you missed out on learning and exploring your destination, but someone else gets to transport you and teach you at the same time.
On the Go
Careful investigation of local transportation arrangements may allow you to cut costs even more and avoid some hassle. 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.
For some travelers, dining out is one of the most exciting parts of the trip. However, some people find this is an area where they prefer to cut expenses. You could do so by booking accommodations that provide breakfasts and have refrigerators and microwaves available. This helps reduce the cost of restaurant dining for every meal. You could plan a few memorable dining experiences and stick to your same routine for the other times.
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 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 path.
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 significant 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? You can consider those points in your financial plan. If you don’t already have a plan to capture rewards, whether that is through a credit card or choosing a hotel chain for most of your stays, now would be the time to consider if that makes sense to help your retirement travel budget.
Traveling on a retirement budget can be fun and affordable. All it takes is a little planning and a lot on anticipation!
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Published for the blog on April 29, 2019 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.