Whether you’re exploring close to home or going around the world, traveling is an amazing experience at any age. Many people have “bucket list” trips that seem unrealistic, or simply can’t travel as much as they would like — but in retirement, they finally have the time to take those trips. The downside to retirement travel is that many older adults are living on a fixed income, which means you’re probably on a pretty tight budget. Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to stay home, though. These tips and tricks are perfect for seniors who want to explore the world without spending a fortune.
Do These Essential Tasks Before Leaving Home
First things first: Think about making your home secure to save money while you’re gone. Your home will still be there even if you are not, which means those everyday expenses continue piling up. You can cut down on extra costs by preparing your home before your trip. Unplug appliances and turn down thermostats so you aren’t using energy unnecessarily. In the week or so before your trip, be conscious about what you buy at the grocery store and avoid buying perishable food before you leave. When you start by saving money on regular expenses, there is more room left in your budget for your trip.
Always Ask for Discounts
Senior discounts are available for all kinds of travel expenses, from rail travel and reduced airfare to accommodations and restaurant discounts. Inside the United States, the senior pass to the US National Parks is one of the best discount programs out there. While some discounts will be easy to find, they won’t always be staring you in the face. Never be afraid to ask for a discount if you don’t see one posted. Sometimes you may need to make a phone call to get a discount through a real person rather than making a reservation online. The other key tip to keep in mind is that a senior discount may not always be the best offer available. If you’re a member of AARP or AAA, it’s possible that one of those discounts will be better.
Travel with Flexibility
One of the greatest benefits of retirement is flexibility with time. Use that to your advantage by traveling through the week for short trips and during the off-season for longer ones. You can usually save quite a bit by traveling during off-peak times. Just be sure to research the weather and other factors about your destination beforehand. You don’t want to end up going at a time that would end up being disappointing. As an alternative to off-peak, Rick Steves recommends going to Europe during the shoulder season of April through mid-June, September, and October.
Look Into Alternative Accommodations
Instead of staying in hotels, US News recommends researching other accommodations that are more affordable, such as rentals through companies like Airbnb, bed and breakfasts, and hostels. These options often have better rates than hotels, and if you have a place with a stocked kitchen, you can save money on food by preparing your own meals. Doing this also has the added benefit of allowing you to get a true feel for the local culture. You may even find that you want to stay awhile, which means you could possibly get an additional discount.
Travel with a Group
Many people love solo travel, but you will usually save money when you go with friends and family or some other organized group. For example, if you rent a vacation home, the per-person rate usually goes down with more families sharing the cost. There are even senior travel groups you can join, which tend to offer discounted rates that you couldn’t get traveling on your own.
However you decide to travel, it always pays to research all savings options ahead of time. Hidden discounts are out there — sometimes you just have to ask! Seeing the world is an experience of a lifetime, and not one to be missed because of a tight budget.
*This was a guest post written by Sharon Wagner. To view more of her work, check out her website https://seniorfriendly.info/.