The vistas, the glorious landscapes, the sunsets, the quaint towns, the adventures, and the sights and sounds of traveling all beckon many of us during our working years. Is the opportunity to travel lost in retirement?
While you may have to make some adjustments, traveling on a retirement budget is more than just a possibility. It’s a very practical and exciting opportunity to pursue a lifestyle that was likely not completely available to you as a federal employee.
After all, arranging times for travel while gainfully employed, for most of us, involved devising careful plans around busy work and family schedules. Now that you’re a federal retiree, you set the time. You go when it’s convenient for you. You hit the open road when you feel good and ready.
But how do you do it on your retirement budget? Grab your keys and let’s explore. Here are some tips to get you moving:
Despite the possibility that you may have considerably more time on your hands, you still have to do some budget planning. You have to count the cost, literally, which is a good thing. How much do you expect lodging to cost? What about estimated food expenses? Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there? Consider all possible fees.
You can plan ahead for a trip by putting money in a separate account for traveling expenses. If your projected expenses exceed your budgeted amount, do some financial trimming. As you build your savings for an upcoming trip, you may decide to eat out less or forgo other home-bound projects. It’s a simple matter of prioritizing. The open road offers quite an allure.
“My husband and I own Harley motorcycles,” said Yvonne, at the time a federal employee. “He promised that once I retire that we would go take trips.”
Like Yvonne, many federal employees long for the ability to travel in retirement.
You still have lots of time ahead of you. So, develop a timeline. Map out the details of your trip. Schedule it. If you’re flying, booking early will allow you to get better rates. The same goes for costs for accommodations.
“Think through what you want to do every day of your trip,” said Patricia Hajifotiou, owner of a tour company in Greece. “Write it down, and then right beside that, write what that is going to cost.”
Flex Those Traveling Plans
We’re not talking muscles. We’re talking dates, times, and destinations. Keep your traveling vision in focus. Have your heart set on strolling beautiful, pristine beaches? Well, if it’s just beach views you’re looking for, you don’t necessarily have to travel thousands of miles to Hawaii, Patong, or Maui. Florida has fantastic beaches. The California coast is an absolute splash as well.
If it’s just the beaches that are drawing you, factor in more cost-saving times for visiting. While most travelers from the working world may be looking at more convenient or popular times, such as weekends and the traditional holiday season, you can target mid-week days, which helps you to avoid the crowds and the higher travel costs.
Back to the Future
Let’s take the time to talk a little more about time. This is an important subject. It’s kind of like rush hour on a grander scale. So, you’re thinking about Disney World in the spring or summer or Times Square around New Year’s, right? Hold on, unless you prefer the crowds and the higher costs. Do the research to learn when the busy-and slow-seasons are for your destination. Then plan accordingly. You save money. You avoid the sharp elbows of the big crowds, and you’re able to enjoy it more.
Dig Up the Deals
Websites provide some outstanding travel deals. You can get discounts on flights, cruises, and hotels from Kayak and Google Flights. Airbnb provides some fabulous and considerably less costly accommodations for travelers. VRBO lets travelers find vacation-house deals. You may also want to explore tour-group packages to lower costs.
On the Go
Careful investigation of local transportation arrangements may allow you to cut costs even more. Let’s say you’re flying to a big city thousands of miles away. What about using public transportation in those urban areas? After all, driving around crowded downtowns in a rental can be hectic, confusing, and expensive.
Many big cities (New York City, Chicago, San Francisco) offer discounted public transportation passes for a day, a week, or longer. If you are just looking to enjoy the museums, restaurants and galleries of urban life, you might want to consider driving to a nearby big city. The United States has more than 100 cities with populations greater than 200,000 residents. After all, do you really need to go to a city of five million busy residents?
You have to eat, and you want to eat well. However, to manage expenses, you may want to consider booking accommodations that provide breakfast and have refrigerators and microwave ovens. This helps reduce the cost of restaurant dining for every meal. You can even shop at local markets for specialty items.
Attracted to the Attractions
If you love going to attractions, do some attraction shopping first. Explore local event calendars, chambers of commerce activities events, and tourism sites. You may discover the small, less-traveled attractions are just as delightful as the large ones and are a whole lot less expensive. Many communities provide wonderful events and festivities, which deliver some of the best and surprisingly delightful entertainment offerings that are real hidden gems off the proverbial beaten track.
Take the Discounts
You may not want to broadcast to the world that you’re a senior. But many places offer senior discounts that can save you a lot of money over time. Many organizations provide members with special discounts. Explore this list of senior discounts: The Senior List.
Choose Your Rewards
Have you earned points on loyalty programs for hotel stays, airline flights or credit card use? Redeem the points. That’s what the points are for. It’s time to put them to good use. What time is better than now?
Traveling on a retirement budget can be fun and affordable. All it takes is a little planning and a whole lot of anticipation
Any companies mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Any investment should be consistent with your objectives, time frame and risk tolerance.
Disclosure: The information contained in these blogs should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of a tax or financial professional who is familiar with all the relevant facts. The information contained here is general in nature and is not intended as legal, tax or investment advice. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for the individuals’ specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters. RBI is not a broker-dealer, investment advisory firm, insurance company, or agency and does not provide investment or insurance-related advice or recommendations. Brandon Christy, President of RBI, is also president of Christy Capital Management, Inc. (CCM), a registered investment advisor.