9 Ideas for Affordable Retirement Travel

Category: Travel

April 16, 2017 – Travel is one of the joys that most people look forward to in retirement. Unfortunately for many retirees, who find themselves struggling to pay their daily expenses, being able to afford a robust travel schedule is a serious problem.

Here are some practical tips to help even the most budget conscious baby boomer enjoy a lot of great travel experiences in retirement.
1. Travel at the last minute. Your favorite airline, cruise line, or travel site probably has email alerts on bargains. Sometimes it’s almost cheaper to travel than it is to stay home!
2. Put a “Watch” on your bucket list trips. Go to Google or sites like Travelocity and type in the flight or tour you are interested in. There is usually a way to track and get alerts about pricing changes – book when you think you have your best deal.

3. Find a place to stay with Airbnb or sites like HomeAway.com. Today there is no need to pay big hotel prices when thousands and thousands of people are willing to rent you a room for a fraction of the price. Check user ratings and stay with reputable outfits though, as there are scammers out there willing to steal your money.
4. Try a home exchange. Some of the more established players in the home exchange market include HomeLink, HomeExchange, and Intervac. There are all types of home exchanges with advantages and pitfalls. This article from USA Today has some great tips on how to do it right.

5. Volunteer or get a job as guide or helper. A few years back we interviewed Barbara Traynor for this article, “How to Live for Free as a Second Career Volunteer“. Although budget-challenged, Barbara has had amazing travel experiences while doing rewarding volunteer work at the same time. She has some great ideas on how you can do the same.
6. Buy a used RV. Our series on Retiring in an RV by Betty Fitterman was one of our most read ever! There are so many places you can go while bringing your home along with you.
7. Travel in the off season. Being retired has advantages, and one of them is flexibility. While working stiffs have to work around holidays and vacation schedules, you have the time to travel when rates are lowest.
8. Look for free entertainment options. Look for concerts at churches, download walking or biking tours, attend library talks, hit museums or other places on free or senior days. If you look around you can find all kinds of entertainment options that are either free or very low cost.
9. Do your research. Blogs, travel columns, and guide books have all kinds of ideas for where and when to go. The more time you spend researching the better your trip will be, and the more you can save.

Comments? We would love to hear your best ideas for making travel work on a small budget. Better yet, what are some of the best trips you have taken in your retirement? Please share in the Comments section below!

For further reading:
The Ultimate Downsize – Pack Your Suitcase and Hit the Road
Boomers’ Biggest Regrets: Not Traveling Enough
More Great Boomer Retirement Trips from Jan
5 Golden Rules for Solving Baby Boomer Travel Problems We Didn’t Have Back in the Day
Best Road Trips for Baby Boomers
Adventurous Retirements (a series of articles)

Posted by Admin on April 15th, 2017


  1. It is nice if you have kitchen at your vacation location. If so, consider bringing a small suit case full of food such as canned tuna, sardines, canned chicken, canned deviled ham, peanutbutter, jelly, cup o soups, crackers, bread, instant coffee, tea bags, creamer, sugar, jar of mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, dried cereal, dried milk or almond milk, salt, pepper, precooked bacon, energy bars, spray cheese, pop tarts, oatmeal, dehydrated fruit, tang. You get the idea. You can save a lot of money by preparing breakfast and lunch and then maybe splurge on dinners. You could bring some spaghetti and sauce and rice then add leftover dinner meat to the spaghetti sauce or rice. When you are done with your vacation, most of these items should have been eaten and no need to carry them back home. If you have some stuff left over and don’t feel like bringing them home, I am sure you can find someone to take them off your hands. Sometimes stores in vacation areas are high priced or you can’t get what you want without driving around all over the place. We used to have a timeshare and would always bring food with us. We would visit a local store too to suppliment fresh veggies, eggs, bread.

    by Louise — April 16, 2017

  2. I go to sites like Groupon and put in the city i plan on visiting to score local deals. Also Who Fish website lists local event for everyplace in the country, many of which are free.

    by Laura — April 16, 2017

  3. Try being on an e-mailing lists for your favorite resorts. They may send out special incentives. We’re actually going to an upscale resort this mid week for $58.00 a nite and since we mentioned them on Facebook we get additional amenities.

    by Staci — April 16, 2017

  4. My sister and BIL travel a lot using Airbnb. They are careful to check the reviews and pick places right where they want to be. They stayed at one while visiting me in Tucson, with 1 bedroom, respectable kitchen, bath and living room with TV and DVD player. Very charming and good price. They try to keep all Airbnb stays under $50 a night. They have a small bag to carry essential kitchen items in. They’re extremely experienced travelers, having traveled all over the world. They walk, hike, use public transportation and Uber, rather than rent a car. Right now they are in Spain at an Airbnb in a fun little town. They’re renting out their house through a realtor and are on the road. Sounds good to me.

    by Elaine — April 26, 2017

  5. We like to travel to cities and spend a week, ten days or two weeks. We look for apart hotels. In Buenos Aires we like to stay at an apart hotel called Trianon Residence in the Recoleta section. The two bedroom apartments are huge, someone at the desk who speaks English 24/7 full kitchen two baths, taxis at the front door, restaurants an easy walk and grocery store a block and a half away. A full breakfast provided every morning. We can walk to Recoleta Cemetery and the public park where there are sales of great stuff on Saturdays and Sundays. The price of Trianon Residence is affordable and so much better than a hotel room. In Panama City, Panama we stay at the Torre de Alba Hotel and suites, here all units are one bedroom units with king or two twins, full kitchen with a separate washer and dryer right in every unit. Again people at the desk 24/7, a full breakfast provided every morning and convenient to just about everything. We find ourselves able to stay longer in center city locations and feel more of the city and country we are visiting. We find this style of living in apart hotels much better if we are going to be in a place more than a day or two.

    by David Lane — April 26, 2017

  6. Our trip to Cuba was one of the best ever. The guide was so helpful and it was so interesting to see the contrasts and conflicts. See http://www.lucyburdette.com/2014/cuba-taking-things-for-granted-lucyburdette/

    by Admin — April 27, 2017

  7. To David, What is an ‘apart hotel’ ?

    by Billy — April 27, 2017

  8. I think that services such as AirBnB have become less of a bargain than they used to be. I was researching a trip to Colorado and found that on the surface, AirBnB prices looked good. But…once they tacked on their fees, these properties were more expensive than other sources. I found at least one property that charged over a $100 for cleaning and forty in other fees. This basically added nearly $40 to a three night stay. I suppose this doesn’t matter as much if you stay a couple of weeks. Many of the local hotels had cabins that had the same square footage without the added charges. It pays to shop around.

    by Lynn — April 27, 2017

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