Do you dream of travelling extensively during retirement but wonder whether you can afford it? It is possible: The key to efficient and frugal travel is finding ways to make the best use of your travel dollar without compromising on quality.
1. Consider house-sitting
Homeowners like having their homes taken care of while they’re away and many seniors like travelling to and living in new places – that’s a win-win recipe. Homeowners tend to prefer seniors as house-sitters because of their maturity level and sense of responsibility. House-sitting can be a great way to explore a new locale or enjoy experiences normally well beyond your means (such as a few weeks at a waterfront mansion). While short-term house-sitting is seldom paid, the accommodations are rent-free and in some cases you can negotiate for living expenses while you mind the house.
Long-term house-sitting can even provide a modest supplement to your income. Websites such as mindmyhouse.com and homeexchange.com are a good resource for matching yourself with homeowners who need houses tended. There are sometimes sign-up fees in the range of $20 to $30.
- Bright idea: If the homeowner you’re sitting for has pets, you may even be able to bring your own pet along.
2. Embrace off-peak and last-minute travel
Now that you’re free of your workplace shackles you can take advantage of off-peak travel pricing and last-minute deals. Travelling during off-peak times is not only cheaper but also less crowded. Having the freedom to pack up and ship out at potentially short notice can be exciting, and flash-sale travel discount sites aren’t just for web-savvy youngsters – they’re also a perfect way for you to stretch your travel dollar in retirement.
- Bright idea: Mid-week flights are often cheaper than those on the weekend.
3. Get travel and health insurance
Besides budget, the other major factor affecting your travel potential is your health. Good travel insurance can save you a lot of money if you get into trouble. Foreign hospitals can sometimes command a small fortune to treat you and a myriad of factors could pop up before your departure date that could force you to cancel your trip, so being insured will give you real peace of mind. These days travel insurance can get pretty sophisticated, from covering flight cancellations to refunding boat rental fees for your fishing trip. Make sure you look carefully at the fine print and pick the cancellation/travel health policy that best fits your needs.
- Bright idea: If you have any pre-existing health conditions, be sure your policy covers any complications or cancellations that could result from them.
4. Plan your medications and treatment options
Make sure you have extra amounts of any medication you’ll need and pre-pack pillboxes ahead of time. Research what kind of medical facilities are available near to your chosen vacation spot or, if you’re not planning to be particularly close to civilization on your trip, find out what emergency services are available, particularly if you have serious health issues.
If you know you need health care within reach, you can still travel: Consider a cruise or a specialty resort. Cruises always have their own medical staff on board, and certain resorts geared towards retirees will have full hospital facilities on site. Find out about your specific health-related limitations (such as altitude, humidity or exertion), and get your doctor’s okay to travel before you book.
Always keep your medication in your carry-on luggage, not your checked luggage, but be sure to comply with the rules about original packaging, liquids and gels. Check this out in advance so you don’t have an unpleasant surprise or delay at the airport.
- Bright idea: Watch out for changing time zones and medication schedules so you don’t skip doses accidentally.
5. Keep your health information handy
If you have a non-trivial medical condition, bring your medical history with you as well as spare prescriptions for any crucial meds – bags can be stolen or lost so it pays to have a back-up plan. Doctors will have an easier time treating you when illness strikes if they have your information.
- Bright idea: Notify resort staff of any serious health conditions you have so they can respond quickly and appropriately in case of emergency.
Wherever your travels take you, remember that you don’t have to give up adventure just because you’re retired – in fact, with a little planning, you can find more adventure than ever before!