It is part of the American dream to travel especially as retirement approaches. All throughout the working years, weeklong trips or weekend gateways were simply a taste. In retirement, 60% of folks make traveling a priority, but the high costs of it and health concerns hinder many retirees from taking those trips. The Baby Boomer generation alone plans 1-5 trips annually within the first several years of their retirement, with a focus oftentimes on international destinations.
The wanderlust for overseas travel comes with a high price tag. In 2013, an international 4-5-day trip averaged $3,300. As of 2021, the average cost for a similar trip was $4,500. In comparison, a domestic trip of the same length costs $630-800. International costs approximately 550% more than domestic.
To get more bang for your buck, retirees should consider Airbnb rentals. Room and cabin rentals through Airbnb are 21% less inexpensive than the traditional hotel room. Many retirees or those approaching retirement have started a second stream of income by advertising a spare room for rent through Airbnb—helping to offset their own travels. Others have become Uber or Lyft drivers on the weekends and in the evenings. Uber alone has reported that a quarter of their employees are 50+ in age.
Outside of travel costs and funds, safety and health are amongst the highest concerns for retirees. General unknowns of the travel destination contribute to this. It is reported that 31% of American retirees are terrified that health concerns will hinder travel plans and enjoyment. In addition, 15% worry about insurance coverage. Domestically, most retirees can rely on Medicaid; however, when aboard, Medicaid covers no medical or health services and supplies. In lieu of traveling, many retirees concerned with health and safety focus on local trips and dedicate more time with friends and family during their retirement.
When it comes to these fears with traveling, optimizing travel budget and time is key. It is important to plan: do research on the destination beforehand for tourist sites and other must-sees; getting costs will help with budgeting. Consider extending the trip for a longer period. Oftentimes, staying longer is more cost effective. To enjoy and take in the culture and scene, consider soft travel—have no hard leave date, give yourself a range of days to leave during. This may save on flight and other travel costs.
Think untraditional: ever consider an RV or camping (or glamping)? Long-term, these means of lodging are domestically and internationally budget-friendlier in comparison to the traditional hotel stays. An RV or camper serve a dual purpose of lodging and transportation!
Hostels are also cost-effective means of lodging. While these are most common over in Europe, in the United States, hostels are most commonly on the west coast; there are some in the southern states. If city visiting, use an Airbnb booking; longer stays typically come with discounts. For example, booking four nights would cost almost the same as three nights. Do not be afraid to shop around for availability and options. One host may offer a better discount than another. Another untraditional means of travel is a train. Instead of renting a car or paying for a taxi service, a train—especially internationally—costs much less.
Lastly, flights are the most common means of transportation and the most expensive aspect in a travel budget. To save money on flights, use a credit card with a travel rewards system. Being able to track and save those means discounts and better prices for other trips. If doing a domestic trip, consider some of the untraditional ways to save and plan. Look into round-the-world flights. These include a set number of flights and miles but allow for more flexibility to multiple places over a longer period. If seeing as many places as possible is what matters most, a great option is retirement cruises. Oceania offers a half-year cruise to stops in countries. Most retirement cruises go for a longer time and oftentimes have all-inclusive deals.
When it comes to traveling during retirement, be mindful of health concerns and travel costs. Save where you can and opt for local or stay-at-home trips if aboard travel is risky.