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

19 Comments »

  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

  9. Not sure if this is the right place for this rant, but I wanted to flag one of the difficulties of traveling as a senior. I was watching the news this morning about another United misstep, and it reminded me of my own unpleasant experience this year with United. Whether age discrimination or just a general unfriendliness to seniors, this is an example of the difficulties we face when flying. Earlier this year, I had booked a flight to Seattle for an Alaskan cruise. When I checked in, I was told that my United flight had been cancelled and I was rebooked (to add insult to injury, I was told to contact United customer servicce for a refund for my first class seat and was booked into a middle seat at the back of the plane for a 5 hour flight). I was given 45 minutes to get to a connecting flight in Chicago, which United told me was all that they were required to give passengers. That 45 minutes is calculated from landing on the runway to the next flight’s departure time. If you deduct the time from landing to get to the gate, on the one hand, and the 15 minutes after boarding is closed for the next flight, this gave only about 15 minutes to actually get from one gate to the other. I am in my 60s with an ankle that is held together with pins, and unable to run. There were two other senior passengers in the sae situation. We asked if we could have a cart waiting upon arrival to take us to the next gate. The United agent told us to ask the agent at the gate to call ahead for us. We asked the agent at the gate, who told us to ask the stewardess who would be able to call ahead. We asked the stewardess, who told us that we would have to ask the gate agent upon arrival to get a cart for us. We asked the gate agent, who told us that we would have to flag down a cart if we saw one as we ran to the next gate across the terminal. Fortunately, the next flight was delayed enough for us to get to the connecting flight, with no help from United (and my ankle was swollen and aching for the next few days). It was a miserable, stressful experience. This is an example of the difficulties of airline travel for elder passengers. Planning ahead, light carry-ons, traveling the day before the cruise, etc. didn’t avoid this miserable experience. Yeah, you can try to view it as an adventure. Bah humbug Airline Industry!

    by Kate — July 7, 2017

  10. Ugh, Kate! Sounds awful! I hate those endless loops, whether on the computer or people generated!!!

    by ella — July 8, 2017

  11. Kate, there is a solution to that issue: don’t fly on United. They have demonstrated over and over again that they do not give a rip about their customers. There are other airlines.

    by Linda — July 8, 2017

  12. Kate, I don’t think it’s anti senor, just anti everyone! and it’s not just the airlines and delays and cancelled flights but the hassel on the ground as well. When planning trips now I avoid any that require flying. That does make a cruise in Alaska out of the question but cruises aren’t my thing so no big deal.

    by jean — July 8, 2017

  13. Airlines in general are not what they used to be. I used to travel a lot and do miss it a bit but the horror stories I see on TV these days makes me cringe. So many things to hate! I understand the need for the TSA agents but they could be a bit more courteous. The extra charges for luggage weighing over a certain amount. American people are larger than ever and they are making the seats smaller! Everyone is crowded together like sardines. That alone makes people angry. If there is food offered, it is disgusting. Sometimes the passengers are to blame too. I got on a flight from Hartford, CT to Puerto Rico and half the people took the wrong seats. The flight attendants were barking orders for everyone to get into the right seats. UGH! I have heard reports that the seat tables are full of germs and the blankets they offer are also germy. God forbid if you have to use the bathroom! Oh, and gas prices are cheaper now but airline tickets are not cheaper. Flying is a necessary evil!

    by louise — July 9, 2017

  14. Kate and Jean, I couldn’t agree more. Flying is a miserable experience, and United is a miserable airline. Because of my current job and location, I end up flying united most of the time and have for the past 19 years and so have lots of experience with them. I won’t regale you with my tales of woe, but I can tell you my wife and I have had MANY similar experiences. And Linda, while you are right there are other airlines, and we have tried many of them and most are certainly better than united, it is a really just a matter of minor degrees. You might get an inch here or there more legroom, but they all pack people in like cattle cars, and it doesn’t matter who you fly when it comes to TSA and hassles on the ground. One thing we are looking forward to when we retire is exactly what Jean is saying: no more trips by air. We will do all our travel by car. We have been blessed that our work has taken us all over the world, so we won’t feel like we’re missing out.

    by Partagas — July 9, 2017

  15. Partagas, Wow, as much as I hate flying I despise driving even more! Mostly on the highways. There seems to be no rules of the roads anymore. Everyone is going 90 mph and are bumper to bumper. If there is an inch of space someone will fly into it. Tractor Trailer trucks barreling down on you. To me driving is more horrifying that the worst rollercoaster rides you can imagine. My hub had to go to a large city to have surgery. I hired a limo company to drive us out there and back. Even the limo driver admitted the traffic was horrific and he was a professional driver. I don’t mind two lane roads where the traffic flows nicely but can no longer do highways!

    by louise — July 10, 2017

  16. Wow – my sympathies about all that travel with United! I have done enough traveling for work that I I am also looking forward to traveling by car — but as Louise points out, that also has its own set of risks. I remember my Dad’s doctor warning him not to try to drive at night due to the whole night vision issue, to stay off highways due to deteriorating reflexes, and not to take long car trips unless he stopped every hour in order to avoid circulatory problems. Retirement travel is not as easy as the magazines make it appear…

    by Kate — July 10, 2017

  17. Kate, you are so right! I forgot to mention I have glaucoma and my night driving vision is terrible! I did buy these night vision glasses to put over my prescription glasses and they do help tremendously. Darkness and rain are not my friend when driving! I try never to drive at night. Funny, I have mentioned hiring a limo service to take us to the hospital to different people and a lot of people thought it was a good idea. That would be a good job for someone who doesn’t mind driving in the crazy traffic. Hospital transportation!

    by louise — July 10, 2017

  18. About flying on United…I travel for work enough to have achieved permanent gold status on United. Please recognize that Continental airlines and United merged several years ago, so there are both legacy Continental and United flight attendants and ground staff. The legacy Continental folks are far superior in their attitudes and helpfulness then the United folks on domestic routes. I know how proud legacy Continental folks are of what side of the merger they come from and how difficult their post-merger situation is. Daisies still occasionally grow in the cracks of the concrete…

    by Greg — July 11, 2017

  19. Comment on United. My husband and I flew United from Norfolk,Va to Fairbanks, Alaska on May 24. There were no incidents while traveling. All flights were on time. In addition staff was particularly helpful in providing wheelchair for my husband to the gate due to a back problem. I feel that it is helpful to provide this comment when there has been so much negativity about this airline.

    by Kathy Dornbach — July 12, 2017

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