Summer has traditionally been a time of travel for many people. But I often hear from readers living on very fixed incomes that don’t allow the level of travel they previously enjoyed. Here are some tips I outlined for one such reader. I hope they help you figure out how you can continue to travel.
From reading your columns, it seems like you enjoy traveling. So do I. It’s always been one of my greatest pleasures. But now that I’m retired, it seems like my trips are quickly becoming a luxury I’m afraid I can’t continue to afford. Well, that’s not entirely true but I know I sure can’t afford to take the kinds of trips I did when I had a full income – three/four star resorts, gourmet meals, and taxi cabs. Do you have any tips for those of us who still want to wander but can no longer afford to do it on the budget we once had? I hate to think that my traveling days are over.
A Gypsy to the End
You’re absolutely correct in your observations – travel has, and continues to be, one of my favorite past times. Sadly, like everything else these days, it has become more expensive. But I do think there are ways we gypsies can cut corners and continue to explore!
You don’t mention exactly what kind of traveling you like to do – globe trotting or exploring our own vast, and thoroughly fascinating, country. Obviously, the type of particular adventure you want determines your budget. But here are a few basic things to consider when planning your next trip:
1) Travel off-season. This is one bonus that comes with retirement – you can afford to go places when the prices are lower and the crowds are smaller.
2) If you are flying, shop the Internet. Plan your trip well in advance if you can and visit travel sites that offer “deals.” Register with a “fare finder” option and you’ll get emails alerting you to good fares when they become available.
3) Travel light. On our last trip, we easily pared down to one carry-on each and saved ourselves $200 in airline baggage fees.
4) Stay outside of major cities and make day trips in to sight see. You’ll save a bundle on hotels and you just may discover things you never would have seen if you limited yourself to a city stay.
5) For your accommodations, consider Vacation Rental By Owner, a great web site where you can actually rent homes, apartments, condos, even houseboats. I have used this for domestic as well as foreign trips. Not only are such accommodations larger and usually less expensive than a hotel but you have the ability to cook meals, a real money saver.
6) Speaking of meals … switch up your approach. Eat a larger, less expensive lunch and a light dinner. You’ll save money and some believe, be healthier! Or, if you simply can’t alter your routine, buy your lunch at a deli and relax in the park. Above all else, don’t arrive at your destination hungry as onsite food options are typically prohibitively expensive.
7) Whenever possible, use public transportation. Not only is it far less expensive than a taxi but can also be more fun. (I have met some of the most interesting and helpful people on subways! And waiting for the next train to arrive is one of the best “people watching” opportunities you can have while traveling!)
8) Walk, walk, walk! You’ll save money, see more, and get precious exercise.
9) Always be on the look out for senior discounts and use them! They add up to savings over the course of a trip.
10) If you want to see more of the USA, make it a road trip to remember. Though gas is certainly something we all have to pay attention to, traveling by car gives you great freedom. I highly recommend taking back roads whenever possible … better for your blood pressure than the super highways and chock full of fascinating bits of Americana!
Take some time to look on line for other budget-minded traveling tips. There are countless ways to cut back on this very satisfying and enjoyable past time.