Retired couple enjoying vacation

10 tips for traveling on a budget during retirement.

If you’re retired, you may have thought about traveling to your favorite places – or dream destinations – now that you have more free time. It might feel like a challenge, though, to afford travel on a tighter budget. But by setting a budget and planning ahead, it’s possible to travel in retirement. Here are 10 tips to help you avoid overspending as you cross those long-anticipated trips off your list.

  1. Budget for travel.
    Determine where you’d like to go and do some research to estimate how much it would cost. Consider expenses like airfare, lodging, food and attractions. Figure out how much of your disposable income you can realistically save each month and set aside an amount in a separate savings account that is for travel expenses. If you find yourself coming up short, try to cut spending in other areas that are less of a priority, such as dining out or upgrading your kitchen.

  2. Plan early.
    If you have a specific destination, dates and itinerary in mind, try to book your travel as early as possible to take advantage of the best rates. Once you’ve made your reservation, watch for price drops — you may be able to get a refund for the difference.

  3. Be flexible.
    On the other hand, if you’re willing to be flexible with dates and destinations, you could save money. For example, if you really want to visit the beach, your dollars will go further in Florida versus Hawaii. Consider flying mid-week instead of weekends. Then use the money you’ve saved to upgrade your hotel, add an activity or extend your travel time.

  4. Travel at less popular times.
    Airfare and lodging rates fluctuate based on demand, meaning you’ll likely pay less if you avoid traveling during peak tourist season. Instead of Disney World in July or Times Square in December, think Europe in the spring or New Orleans in the fall. Not only will travel costs be lower, crowds will be thinner and lines for major attractions will be shorter.

  5. Research discount airfare and lodging options.
    Check websites like Kayak and Google Flights for deals on flights, cruises, hotels and rental cars. Consider using rental-by-owner websites like Airbnb or VRBO for lodging options, or look into traveling with a tour group to bundle costs.

  6. Keep transportation costs under control.
    If you’re flying to your destination, research public transportation options versus car rentals before you leave home. Large cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco sell daily, weekly and even monthly passes that may offer a more affordable option. Or, forgo the pricey airfare by choosing a travel destination that’s within driving distance.

  7. Manage food spending.
    Look for lodging options that provide breakfast and access to a refrigerator and microwave. That way, you can stock up on food and drink items at a local market and avoid having to eat out for every meal.

  8. Look for free and low-cost attractions.
    Research the areas you’ll be visiting by checking the local tourism board or chamber of commerce websites. Look for a calendar that lists festivals, concerts, local attractions, and events at parks and museums happening during your stay. Some cities even offer a pass that lets you visit multiple local attractions for a single price.

  9. Claim your discounts.
    Be sure to take advantage of senior discounts as well as any other membership discounts you may have, such as AAA, AARP or warehouse clubs. Ask about senior discounts at restaurants, your lodging, local events and attractions. Retired service members are also often eligible for military discounts.

  10. Leverage travel rewards.
    If you’ve earned points from hotel, airline or credit card loyalty programs, be sure to redeem them for travel-related discounts. Or, consider a travel rewards credit card like Commerce Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® or Special Connections® Visa Signature® card to take advantage of benefits like travel services, discounts, cash back and more.
Traveling can be a rewarding part of a retirement, whether you take a road trip or fly overseas. By following these planning and budgeting tips, you’ll be on track to visit your favorite destinations — and keep your retirement income and expenses on track. Need some inspiration for your next trip? Consider reading “8 fun and affordable vacation ideas.