Traveling is one of life’s greatest pleasures and traveling when you’re a senior, free from the obligations of work and family, doesn’t have to be expensive. This three minute read can show you how it’s done.
One of your first priorities should be to get your home ready for travel. Things you may not consider, such as a missing shingle or exposed pipes in the winter, can set your travel budget back to zero. Take a few days to fix any potential problems and make sure to empty the refrigerator before you go.
Now that we’ve got the practical out of the way, it’s time to save some money. Here are a few tips that make senior travel an affordable option:
Consider joining a travel club. A travel club is essentially an organized group of people, usually seniors, and often single women, who receive a discount on planned vacations. You can find travel clubs through your bank or senior center. SixtyAndMe.com cautions, however, that not all travel clubs are the same, and you’ll need to be on the lookout for travel club scams that won’t help you get away with anything except an empty wallet. Senior Citizen Journal offers more information on travel scams targeted to seniors.
Take advantage of AARP and other senior discounts. AARP offers an extensive lineup of travel benefits catered to the 65 and up crowd. Reaching your golden years can snag you discounts on everything from cruises to railroad tours and much more. You may not save a ton of money with your AARP discount, but you will likely enjoy greater flexibility, meaning you can change your plans without being hit with a huge fee if something more appealing comes up.
Weigh your accommodation options. The vast majority of travelers consider two options: a hotel room or private rental. Sites such as VRBO and HomeAway make it easy to rent a room, condo, or home for about the same as you’d pay for a hotel room and sometimes less. A private home rental comes with the advantages of personalized service and, more importantly, privacy. Hotels, on the other hand, give you an opportunity to earn points and rack up free stays. Do the math and decide if having a kitchen to prepare meals will save you more money than dining out when you factor in all of your preferred hotel’s amenities.
Grab a fistful of coupons. If you decide a hotel is right for you, you can still save money on dining and activities by using coupons. Forget the travel books you find at rest stops and hotel lobbies. Schools and youth organizations across the country sell coupon books, such as the Entertainment Book, as part of their yearly fundraising efforts. Smarter Travel suggests checking out discounts on the Entertainment website to make sure it’s worth the cost, which is usually between $25 and $35 per book.
Steer clear of mainstream vacation destinations. By the time you reach your 60s, you’ve probably already seen the beach and mountains more than a dozen times. Now’s a great time to get your passport stamped. Consider taking a trip to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia or India, which occupy the top five spots on Club Thrifty’s cheapest places to travel list.
Avoid summer travel. The summer months, the holidays and spring break are the most expensive times to travel. Consider booking your vacation for early December, January, or in October, when prices are typically at their lowest and crowds are thin.
If you’re willing to do your research, don’t mind traveling with strangers, and are available in the off-season, you can save hundreds of dollars. So pack your bags and take a trip off the beaten path. It’s time for an adventure.