Traveling is one of the most fun things you can do once you retire, but you want to avoid spending all your savings all at once. So, how can you travel cheaply in retirement? I answer this question and much more in this article.
How To Retire And Travel Cheap Tips:
- Visit affordable countries
- Prioritize what you want
- Book cheap accommodation
- Rent out your house on Airbnb
- Get Senior Discounts
- Find The Cheapest Flights
- Get Travel Insurance
- Work while traveling
- Be flexible
- Use public transportation
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg. I share with you more tips and insightful information below, so you’ll know how to retire and travel cheap after reading this article.
1) Visit affordable countries
One of the best things you can do to travel cheap is to visit affordable countries. You want to keep your daily expenses as low as possible, and that’s pretty easy to do when you are in countries with a much lower cost of living. To help you out, here’s a list of countries with a lower cost of living to give you an idea.
Lower Cost of Living Countries:
- Europe: Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Georgia, Portugal, Turkey, Ukraine.
- Asia: India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Philippines.
- Africa: every country in Africa. But booking a safari can be expensive.
- South and Central America: Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia. (Brazil, Argentina and Chili are more expensive travel destinations).
As you can see, there are so many beautiful countries to explore that are also cheap travel destinations. Perhaps, you have to travel a bit further so the airfare can be more expensive compared to other destinations.
But later in this article, I will show you how and where you can research for the lowest airfare. And you’ll notice that flying doesn’t have to be very expensive.
2) Prioritize what you want
To make sure you don’t overspend while traveling, you need to prioritize what you really want. When you know what you want, you don’t need to spend money on things that are less important than that. Having a focus can save you a lot of money. Especially when you and your spouse or travel companion are on the same page.
For example, when you spend a lot of money on souvenirs, you’ll have less money to travel with. Think about how much longer you can stay traveling when you cut out on those things. Because in my opinion, it’s better to spend money on experiences than material things.
You can start prioritizing at home to save up more money for an upcoming trip. But you can also prioritize your travel trip by figuring out where to go and what you want to and what things are most important to you on that travel trip. Setting a goal and writing it down can help you stay focused and achieve what you want. It makes it easier to make decisions, which eventually saves you money.
Live consciously, and you’ll be able to do a lot more traveling in retirement.
3) Book Cheap Accommodation
There are so many fun ways to find cheap accommodation. We travel full-time, and our best advice for you is to go on Booking.com and Airbnb.com and check out what they have to offer at your destination.
At Booking.com they have over 800,000 properties worldwide including hotels, apartments, and hostels. And you get free cancellation on most rooms and the best price guarantee.
At Airbnb, you’ll be amazed to see that all kinds of homes are available for you to rent. From apartments, condos, houseboats, tree houses, single-family homes, private rooms to entire villas. The prices are often lower than hotel rooms in the same area, and you have the advantage of living like a local and get local tips from the owner. It’s a fun and authentic way of traveling.
In popular areas, you have to book a little bit more in advance to find cheap and great accommodation. Make sure to keep that in mind when you start planning. But off-season or in more remote areas you can even book it one day in advance or on the same day.
Another way to keep the costs of accommodation low is to exchange homes via Home Exchange. It’s an online service you can apply for where you swap homes with other people from around the world. Many people exchange homes every year and love the connections they make with other people.
The cheapest accommodations are dorm rooms in hostels. Not all hostels are great, but there are definitely awesome hostels everywhere that are also great for seniors. And that isn’t filled with drunk students. You can check out Hostelworld for hostels at your travel destination.
Or sleep for free worldwide when you apply at couchsurfing.com. On this network, you can connect with other travelers and homeowners worldwide that are willing to give you their coach or extra room for free.
Tip: Read the reviews before you book anything.
4) Rent out your house on Airbnb
When you’re gone traveling, you can rent out your house on Airbnb and make a bit of money. This way, you can earn back (a part) of your holiday trip. Or even make a bit of profit when you live in a highly touristic area, and you travel at low costs.
Check out how to become a host on Airbnb here, where they will give you great advice on how to become a great host. Because when you are a great host, you’ll get great reviews, and you can raise up your fee.
When you would like to rent out your house while you’re gone, you need to have someone to take care of this for you. Someone needs to clean the space, welcome guests, and take care of questions or problems. You can perhaps ask a family member that lives close by or a neighbor that would like to help you out.
5) Get Senior Discounts
As a senior, there are plenty of discounts available. From discounted entrance fees to parks, museums, public transport, and tourist attractions. Make sure to inform about discounts for seniors where ever you go, and you can save up a lot of money. Sometimes it means that these discounts are only applicable on certain days, so it’s best to get information in advance.
You can also check out Groupon for great deals.
6) Find The Cheapest Flights
The effort to research the lowest airfare can be very worthwhile. And in retirement, you have enough time on your hands, so I can highly recommend taking the time to research the lowest airfare. It can save you a lot of money.
Tips and recourses to find the cheapest flights:
- Fly domestically on the cheapest days of the week; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. And internationally, it’s usually weekdays. According to a study from Farecompare.
- Fly out early because the cheapest flight is typically the first flight of the morning. With the most inconvenient time.
- “The best time to book flights for domestic trips is 2-3 weeks in advance, and the best time to book international journeys is 5-6 months in advance. In general, the cheapest month to book those plane tickets is January, followed by February and August.” According to flight comparison site Skyscanner.
- Check low-cost airline prices and comparison sites individually. The best flight comparison sites are Momondo, Skyscanner, and Google Flights.
- Check cheap domestic flights at your destination, through websites of the country’s local airlines.
- Check out airfare mistakes and errors. Apply for airdrop.com and Secret Flying and get notified by email or text when there are amazing deals and error fares to your desired destination.
- Some experts say that the best time to buy your flight is on a Tuesday. The prices drop Monday night and go up on a Thursday again. But others say deals vary frequently, so it’s best to find out for yourself and see if Tuesday is the best day to book a flight.
- Sign up for free price alerts. You’ll receive a lot of emails, but often there are amazing deals that you wouldn’t know if you didn’t sign up for it.
- Be flexible on dates. When you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can have all the space and time to accept great travel deals for certain dates. And in retirement, that shouldn’t be a big problem.
- Be flexible with your travel destination. With the rise of many error fares sites, there is a new way of traveling. Because when you don’t care where to go, you can accept amazing travel deals through airfare mistakes. You can end up at amazing destinations for very little money that you usually wouldn’t think about traveling to.
Best Travel Recourses To Book Your Trip
We travel full-time, so we put together a list of the best and most reliable booking recourses to book your trip in retirement. It can save you a ton of money and it will make your planning less stressful. We use the following recourses all the time so we can highly recommend them.
- Rentalcars.com: For the best car rental deals, I can highly recommend Rentalcars.com. It’s the world’s biggest online car rental service, where you can compare rental car prices from over 900 companies. It can save you a ton of money that you can now spend on fun things to do on your trip. Check out Rentalcover for better coverage and cheaper car rental insurance.
- Booking.com: For the booking the best accommodation, I can highly recommend Booking.com. They have over 800,000 properties worldwide including hotels, apartments, and hostels. You get the best price guarantee and free cancellation on most rooms. It’s very easy to use and offers a wide selection for every type of budget. You can see scores about cleanliness, location, WiFi, comfort, facilities, and value for money from previous customers to you get a better impression of the accommodation.
- AirBnB.com: We love using Airbnb while we travel. They connect homeowners who rent out their homes/apartments/ rooms to travelers like you and me. With Airbnb, you’ll get all the comforts of feeling at home while traveling. And you stay at less touristy parts of a destination and get great local travel tips from your host. And often Airbnb is a lot cheaper than the cost of a hotel room. Create an account on Airbnb here.
- CruiseDirect.com: If you would like to go on a cruise in retirement you should check CruiseDirect for amazing cruise deals around the world. They give the best price guarantee, have flexible payment plans and no booking fees.
- Tripadvisor.com: World’s best travel platform to get reviews on the best restaurants, attractions and hidden gems worldwide. But also to book cheap flights, hotels, attractions, and experiences.
Please note that these links are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, we may get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
7) Get Travel Insurance
Spending money on good travel insurance can save you a lot of money in the long run. Because Medicare doesn’t cover medical care outside US territories and sometimes not even outside of its service area within the USA.
According to Medicare Interactive, “If you have Original Medicare, you have coverage anywhere in the U.S. and its territories. This includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.”
And if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, your plan may or may not cover care outside of its service area. And you can get automatically disenrolled from most plans if you travel outside your Medicare Advantage Plan’s service area continuously for more than six months.
When traveling outside the US and its territories, Medicare does not cover medical care, with a couple of small exceptions which you can read about here. Therefore it’s best to check your Medicare plans and get informed about what is included and excluded when it comes to your travel plans.
Best Travel Insurance
I can highly recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance. They offer reliable, complete, and cheap travel insurance worldwide for any type of traveler of any age. World Nomads travel insurance is simple and flexible and has been designed by travelers for travelers.
8) Work while traveling
Another great way to save money while traveling is to make money when traveling. You can replenish your travel funds if you don’t mind doing a bit of work in retirement. You can get a paid job, volunteer, or work for free accommodation and meals.
And there are plenty of opportunities out there, you just have to know where to find them. And that’s why I listed a couple of recourses and tips below, which you can check out.
- Teach English Abroad. These jobs are in high demand because the world is yearning for teachers. All you need is the ability to speak English fluently and maybe a TEFL degree/bachelor’s degree, depending on the country you work in.
- Get an RV Job via Workamper. You can work as a campground host, RV park groundskeeping & maintenance, housekeeping, reservations & office work for campgrounds and RV parks. Every year there looking to hire great people
- Become a Tour Guide or seasonal worker. Check out jobs via Alaska Summer Jobs, Coolworks, or Transitions abroad.
- Become a Park Ranger at one of the National or State Parks. Check out USAjobs.gov and search “National Park Service.”
Volunteer travel jobs
- Work on a farm in exchange for free room and board via Wwoof. It can be hard labor, but if you like that and you’re healthy and fit, this could be something for you.
- Do volunteer work via organizations like Earthwatch Institute, Habitat for Humanity and Global Vision International
- Apply for the Peace Corps. They have Peace Corps Volunteers serving in over 60 countries, and you could be the next one.
9) Be flexible
As I mentioned in the paragraph about booking cheap flights, be flexible. Especially with travel dates because that is key to accept amazing deals. Also, you want to avoid traveling during peak seasons. Rather choose shoulder seasons where the weather is still great, but the peak season is over. And therefore, you need to be flexible, and luckily you can afford to be flexible in retirement.
You can research your desired retirement travel destination and find out what the best time to visit is in terms of weather and busyness. You’re likely to find more affordable flights and accommodations.
10) Use public transportation
Avoid renting a car as much as possible and instead, use public transport while you’re on your travel trip. It’s a much cheaper way of traveling, and you’ll have more chances to meet awesome people and connect with the locals. And these spontaneous meetups are often the most cherished travel memories.
When you book your accommodation, you can try to filter accommodations that are also close to public transport stations or within walking distance of attractions in big cities. This way, you make things easier for yourself. And often a ferry, for example in Sydney, is much cheaper and just as fun as an organized and expensive boat trip.
And if you’re the adventurous type of traveler, you can also do a lot of hitchhiking to save money on transportation. We sometimes hitchhike as well and are always surprised at how much people are willing to help us out. But make sure to feel the vibe first and let your gut feeling be your best safety radar. Hitchhiking isn’t scary at all but you have to make smart decisions and feel safe enough to do it. Because not all places are great places to hitchhike.
When you need to rent a car you can compare prices at Rentalcars.com. We use this website to book our rental cars all the time. And make sure to book your car insurance via Rentalcover.com. It saves you a lot of money on car insurance and the coverage is often much better.
Renting a bike or walking as much as possible will save you a lot of money too. And it gets you in better shape as well.
11) Get an RV
Buying an RV isn’t cheap, but in the long run, it’s a good investment for a cheaper way of traveling and seeing the country. Because there is so much to explore and beautiful sceneries to be seen within the USA.
And the upfront cost and road trips become less expensive each day as the cost of accommodation is low. Also, there is a wide range of RVs available that will fit your type of retirement budget and comfort level.
The fun thing about traveling in an RV is that the journey is as much fun as the destination. Many retirees enjoy the RV life, and there’s an abundance of RV campsites and facilities available around the U.S. that like to welcome you.
Buying an RV is a big investment, so determine if you’re really ready for it by getting well informed. And perhaps, test it out for a while by renting an RV first.
12) Cook your own meals
You can save a lot of money if you cook your own meals instead of eating out all the time. Of course, it’s nice to go to a new restaurant every day, but then you will run out of money very soon.
And staying at a rented home with a kitchen via Airbnb is a much better option than staying in a hotel room. Because when you book a hotel room, you have to eat out to get food. And when you have a kitchen, you can do groceries and cook your own meals, which is a lot cheaper.
And if you still like to go out for dinner, look for cheaper restaurants via TripAdvisor and try to save money by cooking at least your own breakfast and lunch. Or the other way round. This way, you still treat yourself while also sticking to your budget. For tips you can ask around where a lot of the locals like to eat, mostly these restaurants are cheaper and offer great (local) food and more authentic travel experience.
13) Go housesitting
Another great way to avoid spending a lot of money on accommodation is to go housesitting. You watch someone’s house (and pets) while you stay there for free. Sometimes you have to do a bit of maintenance as well, and that’s because it’s usually for a longer period.
You can apply at Trusted House Sitters, one of the best housesitting sites, where everyone’s account is verified so you know you won’t get cheated.
14) Travel slow and long
Travel slow and long is the way to go to travel cheaper. Flying to the other side of the world for only a couple of days makes your trip an expensive one. So that’s why it’s best to take things slow and enjoy it longer while you can.
When you stay longer at a destination, you’ll experience a city or region in a totally different way. You can avoid tourist traps, and with the extra time, you can find out the cheaper things to do in the area. And connect better with the destination and the local people.
Also, your extended stay allows you to get a better deal on accommodation, and you have fewer expenses on transportation.
Read more: 101+ Ideas For Your Retirement Bucket List
5 Retirement Travel Must-Haves
As full-time travelers, we’ve tested a lot of products over the years and that’s why we created this list of items that are must-haves for every traveler. We can highly recommend them without any hesitation:
- Travel Hammock: This lightweight hammock is made of ultra-light parachute silk material, fits in a small portable bag and is very-easy-to you use. You can relax easily anywhere: on the beach, by the lake, in the forest, campsite or (rented) home.
- The North Face Backpack: a high-quality, versatile and practical daypack from one of the best brands in the world. A great choice no matter what travel plans you have for retirement.
- Oasis Kindle E-reader: a waterproof E-reader for unlimited reading while traveling in retirement. It has an adjustable warm light to shift screen shade from white to amber. And it works with Audible so you can switch seamlessly from reading to listening.
- Sony Noise-canceling headphone: a world-leading noise-canceling headphone to make your travel trip more comfortable and less exhausting. One of the best travel products out there.
- Go Pro Hero 8: one of the best and easiest travel cameras to take on your retirement trip. The built-in stabilizer produces smooth and high-quality videos and images. And because it’s so small it fits in every bag. It’s our go-to-camera wherever we go.
Check out more of my recommendations about the best travel gear here.
Please note that these links are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, we get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
15) Check Relocation Deals
You can check out relocation deals on cruises and RV rental. It can save you sometimes 75% on a cruise deal, or get an RV for $1 per day. This makes traveling so much more fun.
Relocation or repositioning means that you start your trip at one destination and end at another destination. And mostly these destinations are bigger cities where you can cheaply and easily fly in to or from. And the deals are often during shoulder seasons.
Websites For Relocation Deals for RV Rental:
Websites For Repositioning Deals for Cruises:
16) Find free things to do everywhere
In every city or town, there is always something fun to do for free. From free walking tours to free entrance to touristic highlights because of a national or local holiday. The best way to find the free things to do is to google “free things to do in (name destination)” or ask at the local tourist information office. You’ll be amazed at how much fun things are out there that are for free.
17) Use your social network
Do you have a relative living in Europe? Or maybe a former co-worker or friend has family at your travel destination? Don’t hesitate to use your social network to connect with locals and see if you can stay at their house. Most of the time, people are more than glad to help you around. Even though they live on the other side of the world and don’t know you (yet).
For me, the most humbling and awesome travel experience is to accept someone’s offer to stay at their place or be invited for dinner. And after such an experience, you’re more than motivated to return the favor when you have the chance.
Connecting to someone of your social circle can be an opportunity for you to find free accommodation. But you can also use it to get in-depth-information and tips about the destination. They can tell you a lot about where to go and when and where you can find the best and cheapest places to stay.
18) Plan ahead
When you plan ahead, you can save money on a lot of things: accommodation, flights, etc. Most prices go up closer to the date unless you can find a great last-minute deal, of course.
Also, the fun of a travel trip starts when you start planning. And in retirement, you’ll have enough time to gather information and research to find the best deals out there. With more information and time, you have more opportunities to book your trip and find cheap deals.
19) Travel closeby
Traveling doesn’t always have to mean you have to travel to the other side of the world. There is a lot to explore closeby that is awesome too. And that can save you a lot of money on flights, transportation, and even accommodation.
Often we overlook all the beauty and things to do when we live in a city, town, or region for a long time. But when you investigate what there is to explore, you’ll find great things you probably weren’t aware of. And being open to this can make your retirement days close to home much more enjoyable.
20) Keep track of your budget
You don’t know if you travel cheaply if you don’t know how much you spend. And therefore, it’s best to keep track of your budget and expenses while traveling.
At first, you need to have a travel budget to determine what you can afford to spend. So make sure you know what your travel budget is before you book anything and leave for your trip. You can make a detailed travel budget and divide the costs into accommodation, transport, entrance fees, and food & drinks. Or determine a daily budget where every expense needs to fit in.
We like to determine a daily budget for everything because that’s more clear and transparent. And we use the app: Trail Wallet that I can highly recommend to every traveler. It’s an easy travel expense tracker where you can determine a daily budget, manage foreign currencies, and divide your expenses into different categories.
The following articles might be interesting for you to read as well: