Many people are under the impression that world travel requires boatloads of savings. But in many cases, living or traveling abroad costs less than living expenses in big cities like New York. The key is understanding how to make the most of each dollar on the road. Here are our tips for budgeting your travel and enjoying the experience along the way:
Finding the Best Deal
While it may be tedious, its important to do your homework when it comes to planning travel. The more hotels and flights you compare, the more certain you can be you are getting the best deal. Keep an eye out for senior discounts, off-season discounts, and travel coupons. You should also consider making a call to a tour operator or company. Often, you can find the best deals by directly calling the manager of a hotel and asking about last minute cancellations. Joan Rattner Heilman, author of Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures that You Absolutely Can’t Get Unless You’re Over 50, points out that breakfast and parking can cost as much as a $60 nightly hotel rate, so she suggests asking if they can be included. “Don’t expect anybody to offer you anything. You need to ask,” she says.
Here are three great travel sites that find great discounts:
Book Your Trip Late
Advance bookings are down due to the state of the economy, leading many travel agents and businesses to lower their prices to attract new customers. Tim Fitzgerald, senior director of travel products at AARP Services, explains, “The wise consumer in the travel space is waiting until the last minute,” when prices fall the most. Of course, there is a risk that space on tours will run out.
Volunteer vacations are becoming more popular with seniors by mixing ordinary travel with volunteer work. Experience vary greatly, including everything from working in hospices to working in a rainforest. Many seniors are even taking their grandchildren along to volunteer with them. If you would like to volunteer abroad, check out our recent article on the topic, filled with helpful resources.
If you’re strapped for cash, don’t let expensive flights ruin your travel dreams. Buses are becoming more popular, with many companies now offering comfy leather seats, free Wi-Fi, and an attendant with drinks. And you can’t beat some of the prices. You can take a bus from New York to Washington for just $20.
Cruises are a great way to limit financial surprises while traveling, because often the food and lodgings are all paid for up front. This allows you to sit back and relax for the entirety of your trip, not having to worry about budgeting. One common mistake that first time cruisers make is spending too much money on their sleeping cabin. The fun happens when you are out and about on the ship, so save your money and book a modest cabin. The websites www.ecruise.com and www.cruise411.com offer some great deals for seniors. And if you’d like to join a singles-only cruise, check out our recent post with tons of information.
Join a Club
If you would like to travel frequently, it may be financially helpful to join a club, connecting yourself to a community of like-minded individuals who share travel deals and resources. One example is the Evergreen Club, a network of over 2,000 homes in the US and Canada that provide lodging for travelers at around $20 a night! It is for people aged 50 and up and charges an annual membership fee of around $60. The high number of members makes it easy to find a place to stay, and allows you to travel as frequently as you’d like, without having to worry about lodging.
Another great resource for cheap travel is the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. He has built a community of people that remove all obstacles to world travel, finding ways to make it affordable and enjoyable. Don’t let finances impede your travel dreams. Get out there and make some memories!
What dream trip have you always thought about, but never accomplished? What held you back? How could you make it a reality? Have you recently been on a trip? Where did you go? Share all trials and triumphs with the community!