The dream of traveling in retirement — whether that means relaxing on a beach or hiking across Europe — is something many people plan to do in their golden years. After all, it’s time to make up for all the vacation time you didn’t take during your working days!
Nearly two-thirds of pre-retirees recently polled by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies said they want to travel more in retirement, making that a more popular goal than spending time with friends or taking up new hobbies. Travelers age 50 and older want to take four to five trips this year. That doesn’t mean those visions of retirement travel are just pipe dreams, but it does mean that it’s a good idea to have a plan in order to make it work. These eight tips* will help you reach your objective:
- Start planning before you retire. Rather than just saying “I want to travel in retirement,” think about what that would actually involve. Getting as specific as possible about your travel plans will not only make you more likely to properly prepare, but also motivate you to actually travel, rather than just talk about it. Americans who have a savings plan with specific goals are nearly three times as likely to save successfully than those without specific goals.
- Plan for the “no-go years.” Retirees often think they’ll be able to travel throughout their retirement, but planners say that most people tend to slow down once they hit advanced years. Consumers over aged 70 told AARP that health concerns are the biggest thing preventing them from taking the trips that they want.
- Calculate costs — and factor in inflation. Once you’ve decided what kind of travel you’d like to do in retirement, do some research to get a sense of how much such trips would cost. A weeklong trip to Europe for a couple can run $5,000 for flight and airfare alone, while a big, multi-generational trip could run three times that. The cumulative cost of annual vacations over the course of a long retirement can easily reach six figures. Give yourself a cushion of at least 20 percent and allow for inflation. If you end up with too much money, you can always upgrade your trip.
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- Downsize early. Funding your travel budget, of course, has to happen after you’ve met all the non-discretionary obligations in your budget like housing and health care costs, which tend to grow disproportionately to income in retirement. If you don’t have enough cash to make that happen, you’ll need to decide whether travel is worth making big lifestyle changes, such as taking on part-time work or downsizing your home. Moving to a smaller home or one in a less expensive area could save you hundreds each month.
- Travel while everyone else is working. One of the great things about retirement is that you’re not beholden to anyone else’s schedule. That means that you can take late morning flights or book a room in the off-season to realize substantial savings. It’s usually cheaper to fly between Monday through Wednesday, rather than Thursday through Saturday. Flying from or to a smaller airport or on a connecting flight also usually costs less. You might also save money buying two one-way tickets as opposed to a round trip. The more flexible you are, the sweeter deal you’ll find. Be sure to ask about discounts when booking. Whether you’re booking a hotel room, renting a car or even buying a plane ticket, many travel vendors offer discounts for AAA or AARP, veterans or other groups. If you qualify, be sure to ask if a discount exists.
- Consider insurance. If you’re taking a large trip, spring for travel insurance! Health issues that could derail a planned trip become more common among older travelers, and travel insurance lets you recover some of the cost of a trip missed for a medical reason. If you’re going to be overseas for a long period of time, you may also want to get a travel health insurance plan that covers costs in the country to which you’re traveling. Some Medicare supplemental insurance plans provide this kind of coverage, but most do not.
- Manage your rewards cards. Especially as a retiree, you shouldn’t be taking on debt to pay for discretionary items like a vacation. However, if you have the funds to cover the cost of the trip, using a rewards credit card to pay for the vacation (and paying it off in full when the bill comes) is an easy way to earn cash back or gain travel rewards that you can apply to your next vacation.
- Apply for a Global Entry card. If you are traveling abroad, this card is especially helpful. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports. For info, go to: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry
*Portions of article reprinted from: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/08/17/Want-Travel-When-You-Retire-7-Tips-How-Pay-It