J.R.R. Tolkien, beloved author of the Lord of the Rings series, famously said, “Not all who wander are lost.” Wanderlust doesn’t have an age limit. In fact, many older adults may be more eager to see the world than the younger generation. The only thing that might put a damper on travel plans is your budget. Fortunately, there are things you can do that’ll make your dream vacation a reality. Here are 10 thrifty travel hacks for retirees.
1. Travel in the off-season.
There are many benefits to traveling in the off-season. For one, there are fewer crowds with which to contend. Translation: You’ll have a much more peaceful vacation. Of course, another benefit is that you’ll probably save money! Most popular vacation destinations charge higher prices for things like hotels during peak season, but their rates tend to fall as demand decreases. In other words, you can probably score a much better deal on a hotel suite in the off-season.
2. Cook a few of your own meals.
I know, I know. Part of the fun of vacation is trying out new foods and dishes that aren’t available at home. However, if you’re a retiree on a fixed budget, sacrifices might need to be made. Book a hotel with a kitchenette or stove. Bring ingredients from home or shop local once you arrive at your destination. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have every meal in your hotel. Just don’t eat out every day of your vacation. You might save more money than you realize!
3. Be on the lookout for senior discounts.
Senior discounts don’t only apply to breakfast platters and new shoes. You can also reap the benefits of senior discounts when it comes to traveling! For instance, many airlines offer senior discounts on flights—Southwest and United Airlines, to name just two. Many hotels (such as Best Western) offer senior discounts for AARP members over 55. Of course, you can also save big on cruises and car rentals! Make sure you always check for senior discounts before dotting any lines or crossing any Ts.
4. Stay in a B&B.
For many, bed-and-breakfasts conjure images of a Victorian home tucked away in a cozy corner of New England, filled to overflowing with eclectic furniture and sundry knickknacks. Some might envision mingling with other travelers over a fruit and cheese tray. However, there’s another benefit to staying in a B&B: they’re generally all-inclusive! In addition to a suite, you’ll also have access to homemade meals and amenities hotels may not offer.
Related: 8 Best Retirement Travel Blogs
5. Take buses instead of trains.
Trains are a fun way to travel, but unfortunately, they can come with a hefty price tag. And while public buses often have a bad reputation, the truth of the matter is that they’re often much cheaper. Additionally, buses are a safe way to travel. In fact, they only account for only 10 percent of yearly road fatalities (according to Bus.com). Refer to tip number three and make sure you ask about senior discounts before paying your fare!
6. Bring reusable bottles and mugs.
We all love designer coffee, but let’s face it—it isn’t cheap. Sometimes, even bottled water can be a little expensive. The solution? Bring reusable bottles and mugs with you on vacation! If you need your afternoon coffee fix, don’t rely on Starbucks or other coffeehouses. If you’re staying at a hotel that has a coffee station, use it! You can stay hydrated and caffeinated without breaking the bank.
7. Travel in groups.
Traveling alone or with a spouse can a fun way to travel, but so can traveling in a group! If you have friends or relatives who love traveling, why not invite them to go on vacation with you? Not only will you make a few core memories that you’ll cherish far more than seashells or souvenirs, but you can also save money! If everyone chips in for accommodations or meals, you’ll end up spending a lot less on your vacation.
8. Limit your souvenir purchases.
Understandably, buying souvenirs is a vacation staple. Maybe it’s a glass unicorn that would be perfect for your grandchild. Or maybe it’s a pair of windchimes that would be a wonderful addition to your front porch. Or a bag of saltwater taffy that transports you right back to your childhood. Whatever the case, don’t give into impulse-buying. Limit yourself to three or four souvenirs and try your best to stick to that. Glass unicorns and saltwater taffy are lovely, but no souvenir is worth stressing over your finances later!
9. Look into travel insurance.
Travel insurance is important, especially for older adults. This will allow you to protect your travel investments, such as nonrefundable purchases. This may be imperative for seniors with preexisting medical conditions. Life is unpredictable, so it’s truly better to be safe than sorry.
10. Travel light.
Are you the sort of person who packs everything but the kitchen sink? Do you like to have back-up outfits for your back-ups? While it’s important to be prepared for anything, there’s such a thing as being too prepared. At least, when it comes to traveling. This is especially important when you travel by plane, in which you may be charged for an abundance of baggage. So, next time you plan a vacation, just bring the bare necessities. You may be glad you did.
Looking for more?
Want to read more great articles? Then check out our Personal Finance blog!