Not so long ago your dreams of exploring the world were on hold in a bucket – a bucket list that is. Between family obligations and career demands, you were barely able to manage a weekend away. And even then, chances are you were limited to a drivable destination.
Now the runway is clear. Your time is your own. Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go.
However, even though you’re no longer juggling kids and jobs, retirement comes with its own balancing act. Suddenly you are walking the high wire navigating needs and wants, trying to get the best bang for those precious retirement bucks.
Life on a retirement budget does not mean unpacking those bags. With some research, advance planning, and a little creativity you can find fabulous and cheap travel destinations that will expand your horizons without breaking your bank.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey.
A Little Advance Planning Goes a Long Way
Booking travel far in advance will definitely save you money on flights, cruises and hotels. Check travel sights like CheapAir to find out just how far out your particular flight is available for booking. Hopper allows you to watch prices for your flight and lets you know the best time to book.
When it Comes to Packing, Less is More
Airline math is simple: The less you pack, the less you pay. Excess baggage fees can add up, so pack with the intention of bringing the bare essentials. If you can squeeze all your necessities into a carry on, you’ll avoid any charges and the long wait at baggage claim. What’s more, you will pass those poor folks at the lost luggage counter as you roll your carry on directly to the start of your adventure!
Free Stuff is, well…Free!
As you plan your dream trip, check out the free attractions at your destinations. From museums, to parks and zoos, every destination offers free attractions. The research is worth the time. If you don’t know about ‘em, you can’t take advantage of ‘em.
Let’s Make a Deal
There are tons of travel sites that offer all kinds of package travel deals including senior discounts. Here are a few to start:
Let your credit cards work for you by enrolling in any of the multitude of airline or hotel travel rewards programs. Savings can be huge.
Dodge Crowds – and High Prices
Now that your travel time is not limited to school breaks and other high traffic periods, you can take advantage of off-peak prices. Even one week off high season can translate into real savings on flights and hotels. Plus, it will be a pleasure to discover cities without hordes of other tourists. You won’t spend all day waiting in line to see Michelangelo’s David or the Eiffel Tower.
Quid Pro Quo
Volunteering abroad can be a great way to have a unique travel experience for free. You give your time and you get free room and board. Some organizations even cover travel expenses. It’s a win/win.
Over 50 Travel Groups
Screaming kids? No thanks. A group of peers with whom to share a memorable experience? Yes, please. There are all kinds of travel companies with destinations and itineraries designed for older – wiser – travelers. The good ones take care of all the details to leave you free to enjoy. Each of the following has a slightly different focus to accommodate your personal travel goals. Some even offer the best affordable family vacations.
- Roads Scholar
- Intrepid Travel
- Smithsonian Journeys
- Overseas Adventure Travel
Cheap Travel Destinations
There are fascinating and fabulous vacation options that are known to be less expensive than others. Whether you seek a beach environment, or are looking to soak up some foreign history and culture, there are some cheaper destinations that will be rich and rewarding – and a little less taxing on the wallet.
A few examples:
- Nassau, the Bahamas
- Bruges, Belgium
- Glasgow, Scotland
- Budapest, Hungary
- Galway. Ireland