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Travelling on a budget after retirement

The last time I spoke to my newly retired parents, they were about to jet off for a month in Europe, with a two-day stopover in Shanghai.

This was surprising to me because as much as they love to travel, it can be really expensive.

“Oh, it’s not that bad”, my dad said. “We’re on a strict budget, but it’s perfectly doable. Plus, now that we’re retired, I want to see the wooorld!”

If you’re like my folks and want to go on your dream holiday after retirement, these are the tips that worked for them – and hopefully, they’ll work for you too!

Book sale flights

  • Sale or deal flights can get you far in the world without having to max out your budget. Midweek flights or flights to destinations that are in the off-peak season can be cheaper still.
  • The key to taking advantage of these is to do your research (Where are you going? When is the off-peak period?) and plan ahead.

Get Travel Insurance

  • Most sale flights don’t offer refunds or changes. But you can, however, counter this by covering yourself with travel insurance cancellation early on.
  • If you get into an emergency overseas, the costs can reach into the thousands. Travel insurance means that some or all of these costs can be covered.
  • Many providers offer dedicated seniors travel insurance packages, which can include cover of any pre-existing conditions.

Take advantage of stopovers

  • If you’re flying somewhere that has a stopover, take it as a blessing and spend a few days there as well. You never know what you might discover and most of all, means you’ll get to see two different destinations for the price of one flight!

Stay outside of the city hub

  • Hotels in the inner city are undoubtedly more expensive than those further out. So, if your budget is tight, try looking for lodging away from the centre. If you can find something that’s close to public transport and simply means a quick train, tram or bus ride at the start/end of the day, you can save a lot.

Give Airbnb a go

  • With Airbnb, you can book rooms, flats or whole houses almost anywhere in the world. The locations can still be good, but the costs can be much less than that of hotels.
  • Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to make a security deposit and you can often be asked to pay a cleaning fee and a service fee. However, when you add all this up, it can still be much cheaper than a hotel.

Take public transport

  • If you’re on a budget, aim to catch public transport where possible and avoid taxis. Once you get the hang of it, it can save you a lot.
  • Buying a transport card (e.g. Oyster Card in London) also means your fares can be much cheaper than paying each time you need to travel.

Look for seniors' discounts

  • Discounts for seniors are available in a lot of destinations – often at things like landmarks, museums, and shows – so ask or research before you buy.
  • Hotels, train services and coaches will often offer seniors discounts too, usually in the range of 10-20% off the ordinary adult rate.

Visit museums on ‘free’ days

  • Lots of museums around the world offer free entry on certain days or at certain times. If there’s a museum you’re keen to see, find out whether it has any of these ‘free’ admission days.
  • Hotels, train services and coaches will often offer seniors discounts too, usually in the range of 10-20% off the ordinary adult rate.

Get a city pass

  • If you’re hitting up a big city as part of your dream trip, check to see if any city passes are available. These are like combined tickets that offer you entry into a variety of attractions for a single price.

The NYC CityPASS, for example, includes entry into six attractions, including the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.