It’s not until retirement that people can finally relax and plan the trips they’ve always wanted.
Whether you’re about to retire or have already retired, what better way to celebrate than with an epic vacation? In fact, when it comes to bucket lists, deepening relationships with family and travel are the most popular choices. It is noteworthy, however, that baby boomers and Generation Z respondents differ to a great extent.
Only 18% of Gen Z respondents say family relationships are the most important area to focus on before they die, compared to 41% of baby boomers. In contrast, 42% of Gen Z respondents prioritize travel, compared with 25% of boomers. A bucket list is predominantly crafted by older generations, while young, idealistic generations prioritize their wanderlust.
Regardless of where travel ranks on your bucket list, It’s time to stop making excuses. Instead, it’s time to mark the transition into golden years with an adventure of a lifetime. After all, as Anthony Bourdain once said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
So with that in mind, let’s share some tips on how to plan the best retirement trip.
The importance of travel in retirement.
With more time at your disposal, traveling seems a natural choice. Additionally, for retirees, it is the ideal pastime since travel comes with these tangible benefits. :
- Taking a vacation every year reduces the risk of heart disease by 32% for retired men.
- Traveling twice a year will reduce stress and depression in retired women.
- People who travel abroad are more open-minded and emotionally stable.
- When seniors travel, they move much more than they would at home, which has a number of benefits for their health.
- Finally, traveling helps you overcome fears and prevent loneliness by taking you out of your comfort zone.
Plan in advance.
“A survey by RBC Wealth Management found that travel and vacation made the top 10 list of activities people aged 50 and older are looking forward to the most, regardless of whether they were already retired or not,” writes Pierre Raymond in a previous Due article.
The biggest concern when it comes to retiring and living well in your golden years is planning ahead. However, people often take for granted the time they have at the moment.
“If you’re looking to tick off a few exotic destinations from your bucket list in the coming years, planning well in advance helps to determine your level of financial preparedness,” adds Pierre.
“As a general rule, many people tend to budget for the basic things their retirement funds and social security will need to cover once they leave the workforce,” he continues. “Things such as rent, mortgage payments, insurance, and utilities take up a big chunk of any person’s retirement funds.”
“When you’re looking to spend more time on the road or in the air, having a sizable portion of your retirement savings dedicated to this means you’re well ahead of schedule,” Pierre says. Planning and saving for your post-retirement travels should begin five to ten years in advance, according to some experts.
While this may seem excessive, people often miss out on the opportunities and opportunities they were so keen to experience when they enter retirement and realize that they don’t have enough to put aside for leisure and vacations.
Make a decision about when and where you will go.
A senior traveler is lucky in more ways than one. You can take advantage of discounts during off-seasons and “shoulder seasons” since you are not tied to work schedules. Generally, in the “shoulder season” (April through mid-June & September through October), you’ll find the best weather, the cheapest prices, and the fewest people.
When there’s a lull in holiday travel, you might also find travel deals during the first two weeks of December. And, since most people are back at work after the holidays, January is one of the cheapest months to travel.
It’s also usually cheaper to fly Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday during low business travel times, especially late mornings or early afternoons.
There’s a rumor that airlines offer discounts late on Monday night, so Tuesday is the best day to buy tickets. According to Skyscanner, that frugal travel tip turned out to be true.
If you’re reasonably fit and in good health, you won’t have trouble traveling or participating in activities no matter how old you are. So, decide where you want to go and go for it.
It is important to keep in mind that being as specific as possible is helpful during this process. Rather than naming a specific general region, try naming cities, neighborhoods, and landmarks.
Do some research on flights and accommodations.
If you’ve already decided on a destination, look at flights and decide where you want to stay. Taima of Poor in a Private Plane shares how she finds great airfares.
- Learn about flight booking sites such as Google Flights, Kayak, and AirWanderer.
- Don’t overlook budget airlines including Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit.
- Consider local airlines.
- Search for flights incognito. Why? “When you show an interest in something by searching for it over and over web browsers know this and will see that you are intent to buy,” explains Taima. “As a result prices will go up.”
For weary travelers, there are plenty of places to rest.
The biggest expense in your travel budget will be sleep. The good news? There are plenty of options galore to satisfy every traveler’s wallet and sense of adventure, from ritzy hotels to free couchsurfing.
- Hotels & Motels. You can sometimes save the most money by joining a hotel loyalty program. When deciding where to sleep, keep your membership in mind. Hotel booking websites Booking.com and Agoda are currently the best, according to Frommer’s. For the best price, they offer the most options.
- Accommodations other than hotels. Choosing an alternative accommodation such as a hostel, a hosted accommodation, a home exchange, or housesitting can stretch your budget. This is not only a great choice for Millenials, but also for seniors. Alternatively, you can join Affordable Travel Club, a private bed and breakfast membership club for mature travelers (40+).
- Home exchange. Home exchange or house swapping might be a good option if you want to live like a local for a few weeks.
- Short-term residence. A vacation or house rental may be the perfect choice if you’re traveling with friends or family and need more than two rooms. If you prefer, you can eat in instead of going to a restaurant (saving on restaurant costs). Also, sharing common spaces offers spontaneous moments.
Your itinerary should be guided by research.
As soon as you’ve chosen your landing spot, you need to decide what to do next. If you don’t have a personal guide in a city, creating an itinerary you will have to do on your own. Despite the usual tourist attractions, it’s good to spend time exploring hidden gems and deeper cuts. This makes trips more memorable and can help you plan your travel budget.
You can follow location hashtags for your destination on social media platforms such as Instagram. You’ll be able to experience the city through the eyes of a local. When it comes to finding the best places to eat and see, TripAdvisor is one of the best resources.
A travel tour, on the other hand, is a great option for those who prefer someone else to handle the details. Companies that organize travel tours put together packages and itineraries, and participants travel together as a group.
You can usually rely on the tour company to book your flights, arrange housing, arrange sightseeing destinations, and even cover some of the costs of your meals and sightseeing activities. Getting lost, missing important historic sites, or not knowing the language is none of your worries. Enjoy your time, sit back, and relax.
There are many types, sizes, and price points of travel tours. Travel companies offer tours tailored to seniors, while others offer itineraries that are suitable for multiple age groups (for multigenerational vacations).
Determine your budget.
“As a retired traveler, you may have a fixed budget to work with,” notes John Boitnott in a previous Due article. “Consider how much you can afford to spend on travel costs such as flights, accommodation, and activities.” It can be difficult to manage the financial aspects of retirement travel, if not impossible. If you are on a fixed income, you will want to find any way to save money you can, unless you have specifically saved up for retirement travel.
“Moreover, retirement travel costs can really add up,” he adds. “From additional fees associated with flights to the local cost of food and drink, hidden costs can present an unpleasant surprise.” For unforeseen expenses, budget an extra amount as a buffer.
You can also save on retirement travel by:
- Find a destination a few hours outside of a major city. A day trip can save you money on hotels and food while still allowing you to see the sites.
- Use points or other credit card travel rewards to cover the trip.
- Consider overnight trips if you’re traveling by train. Due to their low popularity, these fares are usually less expensive.
- Save on checked-baggage fees by packing as little as possible.
- Plan your travel well in advance. Airline and accommodation savings may be significant if you do this.
- Take advantage of ways to save on food, such as booking a room with a kitchenette or an Airbnb stay where you can prepare your own meals. Don’t forget to pack snacks as well.
- Look into AARP memberships, travel sites, and attractions for discounts.
It can be challenging to plan a retirement travel budget. Your budget, however, can be set during your trip with some careful planning and research.
Get an estimate of your expenses
The first step in budgeting is to understand your potential expenses.
Find out what airfare would cost from your city to your dream destination online. When you’re ready to book, your airline ticket price may have changed since it’s not fixed. No worries – you’re just looking for a ballpark figure. By setting a baseline budget, you’ll be able to determine how much to allocate. To be prepared for any changes in costs, you can pull a new estimate as you get closer to the booking date.
The cost of a passport.
Traveling outside the country requires a passport. You’ll need one if you plan to travel overseas — or if your passport has expired. As such, adding the fees to your budget will be necessary.
Similar to how you research airline tickets, you can search for hotels. A budget estimate can inform your trip budget, and a price estimate will give you an idea of what to expect closer to your trip.
Make a list of the activities you want to do.
Would you like to visit museums, eat your way through the city, or tour castles during your trip? Make sure you do some research before you decide what experiences you want to have, even if you think you know what you want. You can find out how much admission and fees will be at the places on your must-see list once you have nailed down your must-see list.
Don’t forget transportation.
Are you going to hop between cities? Do you need to travel to do the activities you want to do? Take into account taxi fares, bus fees, and train ticket prices. Each of these items is an important line item in the budget.
Keeping a budget for potential doctors’ visits when you’re overseas will prevent you from being caught off guard if the need arises. You should check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered abroad if you are under 65.
Mobile phone fees.
Talk to your phone’s service provider about international travel if you want to FaceTime with your grandkids from a famous landmark or send pictures to friends back home. The fees can add up, so make sure you understand them and save for them.
In a foreign country, your $1 might not stretch as far as it does here at home. It goes further in some places, though. To get an idea of what to expect, check out the exchange rate of your destination.
In the event that your luggage is lost on your trip, what can you do? Depending on where you are going, you may need to purchase some items. Is that bag containing your prescription medication? In order to avoid being caught off guard, budget extra funds for these two examples.
Start saving and get traveling.
It’s time to start saving for your dream trip now that you know what you need to include in your budget. However, what if you don’t have enough money in your monthly budget to start saving for your dream retirement trip? Getting some cash freed up or finding alternative income sources will be necessary.
To help you accomplish that, here are a few tips:
- Consider reducing every category outside of your bills if you have a household budget. You can make a big difference if you reduce your grocery bill by $10 or your movie ticket expenses by $15 each month. In just one year, you could save $1,200 by trimming $100 from your monthly budget.
- You should allocate any extra money to the category of “Vacation” in your budget.
- Is there a hobby or passion you have that can be turned into an income source? You could, for instance, double what you normally make for yourself and sell it to your family and friends!
- Earn some extra money on the side. Seniors can find a variety of jobs that require no commitments or full-time employment. Getting a temporary job could allow you to save up for your big trip even if you are retired comfortably.
- Instead of overspending on the grandkids, give them a souvenir.
- Don’t pay for memberships you don’t use. A gym membership, for example, may not be used despite your best intentions. The money you save can go toward your vacation budget, so there are plenty of other ways to exercise.
- Move to a more affordable place. “If the place you’re living in is eating up a large chunk of your income in rent or maintenance, it may be time to consider moving,” recommends Jordan Bishop in a previous Due piece. “Downsizing to a smaller home or apartment or even relocating to a cheaper city can free up a lot of extra cash every month that you can put toward travel in the future.” You can also recover a good chunk of equity by selling your current home and buying something cheaper if you’re a homeowner. If you have unwanted or unused belongings, you can even sell them to offset the cost of your move.
1. How do you define “travel”?
Everyone has a different definition of travel. Several people will sell everything they own after retirement and hit the road. Some people are satisfied with day trips and weekend getaways. Additionally, RVs and roadmaps, cruises, and overseas vacations are always popular.
To create a travel plan, you need to first determine where you fall on this scale. Ask yourself a few questions if you’re not sure:
- Do you have any specific locations in mind?
- Will you be traveling alone? Or, will you be traveling with family or friends?
- What is the frequency of your travel plans?
It’s impossible to achieve what you want until you create a picture of what you want.
2. When you retire, how will you fund your travel?
In retirement, funding travel is another challenge, but it’s not impossible. A lot depends on where you plan to travel and how you plan to travel. Discuss your retirement plans with a financial advisor if possible. Your travel agent can help you determine if your goals are realistic — and what you should do to achieve them.
It’s recommended that you max out your 401(k) or Roth 401(k) and stash 10% to 15% of your income for retirement as soon as possible to fund your travels.
3. How can you save money while traveling?
When you travel, you can also save money in a variety of ways.
- Consider swapping houses with someone in another country instead of staying in a hotel. You can find other people looking to swap homes with you by listing your home on Home Exchange.
- Think about house sitting as well. Avoid hotels and noisy neighbors who come and go at all hours by watering a few plants, caring for a pet, and taking care of a pet or two. A great resource is Trusted Housesitters.
- Interested in traveling and helping others at the same time? Volunteer vacations are a great idea. Both domestic and international projects are listed at International Volunteer HQ, including construction, education, healthcare, wildlife conservation, and more.
- Repositioning cruises are also available on some cruise lines. After getting from Point A to Point B, they will tell you what happens next – including how to get back to Point A.
- You can find senior discounts at airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies. Some travel benefits may also be offered by AARP and AAA memberships..
4. Is Medicare going to travel with you?
If you have Medigap or Medicare Advantage, Medicare will follow you wherever you go. Original Medicare and Medigap plans do not follow you everywhere.
Even in the case of an emergency, Medicare rarely covers healthcare received outside the U.S. There are Medicare Supplement plans that cover up to 80% of the costs of healthcare in foreign countries. Medigap Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N are among them. Check your Medicare Advantage plan’s benefits to see if foreign travel is covered.
Original Medicare can be used anywhere that accepts Medicare, so it’s probably a good idea if you travel frequently stateside. In the event of an emergency, most Medicare Advantage plans only cover you outside their service area.
In addition to covering medical emergencies, travel insurance also covers common issues like lost luggage or cancellations. Travel insurance is probably a worthwhile investment if you plan to travel outside of the United States.