I am often asked the question how do people afford to travel? It may seem that people spend a whole lot of money on their adventures. You would actually be surprised how little money spend on my travels. Most of my airfares are covered by my savvy use of frequent flyer points. For me, accommodation is a clean place to lay my head rather than a lavish hotel. I use public transport as much as I can and I limit my spending money.
I wondered how other people save money to afford their travels and asked Jan from Retiring Not Shy how they manage to travel in their retirement. She came up with 10 tips to make travel more affordable. Here’s what Jan had to say:
Travel is one of the top aspirations for many people as they age.
We are all told that we should do our travel early whilst we are fit and healthy and whilst these days there are easier travel options for older people, it is still good advice.
For many people though, there is a concern about spending too much on travel and running out of money for their later years. A reasonable concern at a time of life where income earning opportunities are limited or non-existent. So, where one can’t create more income, the alternative is to manage costs.
We love to travel, and we always travel to a budget. We have along the way, learned some tricks for getting the most out of our travel budget. Whether retired or not, you might find these ideas allow you to travel more for less without sacrificing comfort or pleasure. Here are our 10 tips to make travel more affordable.
#1 Make travel a priority and a budget line item
We include our travel budget as part of an overall broad annual budget. We agree an amount and set it aside in our minds. We base our budget on previous trips and set up a spreadsheet which includes airfares, internal travel within the destination/s, car hire, daily budget for food, estimates for tours, shopping etc.
#2 Put aside every spare cent
We have a ‘money box’ on our kitchen bench and at the end of each day we like to empty our coins into it. This then gets banked into a travel account. It won’t pay for the whole trip, but it can provide some icing on the cake (or cheese on the baguette). Of course, the way to accelerate those savings is to add $5 or other notes as well. We also put any ‘bonus’ income into that account, for example, tax refunds.
#3 Get ruthless about finding opportunities to add to your travel account
Consider how you might generate more cash for your travel budget: have a garage sale, sell clothes/possessions on eBay or Gumtree, host a second-hand clothing sale, rent out a room on Airbnb, seek out some part-time work using a site like Fiverr. Decide what you are willing to sacrifice to make your travel dreams happen – that $6 coffee every day can add up to $30 or more per week; there’s your return airfare right there.
#4 Be flexible
Allow some flexibility in your early stages of planning. Don’t commit yourself emotionally to a travel experience that is going to leave you financially and therefore emotionally distressed. Look at ways you can visit a more expensive location without staying in a premium area. Of course you don’t want to compromise your safety, but it is possible to find less expensive accommodation and restaurants a little away from the main tourist area (and they are often more fun too). Consider too flying into a less mainstream location then using land services or semi-domestic airlines to travel to your preferred location.
#5 Be opportunistic
If you have the freedom to travel at any time of the year, sign up for online alerts from businesses like ”I Know the Pilot”, as well as your favorite airline/s. Keep a close eye on special fares and jump online as soon as something comes up which suits your budget and timelines.
#6 Let your fingers do the walking
If you prefer to use a travel agent then do so, but don’t use them for research and then book online; that is just mean. Otherwise, use the power of the Internet to track down information and to access comparison sites such as Trivago, Booking.com etc. Having said that, we prefer to book direct in most cases as it is often less expensive, better for your host and might garner you a free breakfast, a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates. Ask your host what else they might be able to offer you.
#7 Consider a house swap or housesitting
We haven’t tried this but lots of people do, and with great success. Not having to pay for accommodation can be a huge money saver and allows you to ‘live like a local’; a priceless experience. If house swapping isn’t for you choose an apartment instead of a hotel, that way you can do some self-catering.
#8 Watch exchange rates carefully
If you are traveling overseas keep a close eye on exchange rates and if they move in your favor take the opportunity to lock in some, or all, of your on-ground budget. You can save a lot of money if you are able to get the timing right on this.
#9 Do your research
Research on-ground discounts and free days at Museums etc. These are often available and offer significant discounts. We find that booking in advance is a good idea anyway as it means you can skip the queues on arrival.
#10 Tell everyone you want to travel
Ask for money or travel vouchers instead of gifts for Christmas and birthdays. In a lot of countries, you can buy airline vouchers in denominations as small as $50. Tell friends and family you would like some spending money in a currency of your choice, and that you will remember them when you have a special dinner or shop a local store. We no longer buy each other presents on special occasions, instead, putting aside money in our travel account.
As you can see, there are many ways to save for and on travel. Are you ready to go?
Jan Wild and Rowan Rafferty blog at Retiring not Shy!, where they discuss a broad range of topics related to retirement lifestyles, including choosing where to live, wise spending habits, maximizing your resources, travel, time management, wellness and exercise. You can find more of their travel writing here