7 Simple Ways You Can Travel on a Budget as a Senior Citizen

August 25, 2022

When your working years are ending, real life is just beginning! That's what more and more seniors think, too. Take advantage of the freedom you've gained to travel more and go on great trips!

Senior trips have long since ceased to be a niche. Most tour operators specialize in this target group. 

Single, too old, or too timid – these excuses no longer apply today. Travel has become easier and more comfortable. After decades of hard work, stress, and lack of time, as a retiree, you can finally see the places you've always dreamed of.

A vacation doesn't need to mean a five-star cruise either. A day at the lake can also be a great holiday. A day of relaxation not only has a beneficial effect on the mind but also positively affects your health.

“Getting older does have its privileges! Americans who join the AARP can often get senior discounts on plane tickets, hotels, and other travel-related costs. AARP membership costs only $16. Most countries have similar programs that are either sponsored by the government or private organizations.”

Sixty And Me

Is 60 Too Old to Travel?

For some people, the nomadic existence after retirement means they are always on the road. How about you? Are you living in the same city you grew up in? How far are you from where you began?

If you are still a “young senior,” then traveling may include retiring somewhere travel-friendly. In the middle of Europe? Asia? Perhaps in a state near your favorite holiday destination? If you are recently retired, you have the rest of your life ahead of you!

You needn’t retire nor travel alone either. Many seniors are reinventing their college days by living and traveling with other seniors in shared residences, campers, and hotels.

“The AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) provides an extensive library of travel-related articles and advice for seniors, including destination guides, budget travel recommendations, and an interactive trip finder. The AARP also offers info on retiring abroad.”

Rick Steves

How Do You Travel as a Senior?

Timing is everything:

Go on vacation outside of expensive vacation times and especially in the spring and fall outside of school vacations. Look for “shoulder season” or “off season” deals. During these times, tour guides can better serve you in smaller groups and, in addition, many trips are somewhat less expensive then.

Take small steps:

If you’re not an avid traveler yet, vacation close to home first. If you incur major health problems while traveling, you will be treated effectively by local doctors and in hospitals covered by your insurance.

Speak with your local travel agency:

Travel agents are a budget’s best friend. Sure, you can book online yourself, but travel agencies have access to wholesale deals. And, you’ll want to purchase travel insurance. If you’re managing an illness like diabetes or a heart condition, your travel agent will give you invaluable advice for your trip. Travel agents are paid by airlines and tour operators, so if you find one that wants to charge you, say “no thank you” and find another.

Order everything together:

Package tours, where you book all components of your trip, such as the flight and hotel stay, are particularly advantageous for seniors as a package with just one operator. In the event of government travel bans or travel warnings, you can easily rebook or cancel package tours with the operator.

You Aren't as Young as You Once Were

Regardless of your travel destination, you should keep these age-related considerations in mind:

  • Mobility: Muscle strength, agility, flexibility, and mobility diminish over the years. 
  • Vision: Older eyes need more time to form a clear image, especially if you are driving. 
  • Concentration: The elderly tire more quickly. 

Especially in old age, good preparation for the trip is a must. We all need to keep in mind:

  • Travel and health insurance documents are up to date
  • Enough cash and backup payment methods on hand 
  • Medication and supplements that may not be available away from home
  • Special dietary items that may not be available at our destination

Our advice: do a travel check with your family doctor before you book your travel. This is especially important if it’s a long-distance trip cross-country or to another country.

“A lot of boomers use hostels. Both dorms and private rooms are great options because they provide lots of space to meet other travelers, get tips, and share your own experiences.” Nomadic Matt

Can You Travel on a Budget as a Senior Citizen?

Can you travel on a budget at any age? Sure you can! 

How do Bella and Wayne do it? Berlin, Alaska, Kyoto, and most recently Vienna. These two lovebirds have been crisscrossing the globe with Francine and Marv for the last year. We don’t always have the budget for international travel, and that’s okay. 

Sometimes you can get that travel feeling by taking the bus to the neighboring state. Have you seen your neighboring state capitol?

“When you join a group of fellow travelers, you'll get discounts on everything from museum admission to hotel rooms. Elderhostel's Road Scholar programs include several options for budget retirement travel under $600 per person. Local universities, museums and religious organizations may also offer cheap trips for senior travelers.” Allianz Travel Insurance

How Can a Senior Citizen Travel Cheaply?

Everyone likes saving money, especially when traveling. It just takes some good planning. No one likes buying things on the road that you forgot at home, right? So let’s start by making a list of what you need to do, and what you need to bring with you is our Travel Tip #1. 

Cheap Travel Tip #1: Research and Prepare

You can ask friends on social media, or you can search on Google. Our advice: Stick with trusted travel guides and vendors! Always compare your desired trip. There are various price comparison search engines on the Internet. The saving is often high: The same journey often costs a few hundred dollars less on another platform.

Cheap Travel Tip #2: Rethink, Reuse, Recycle

Are you sitting on a travel idea? Are you one of the lucky ones with an RV or a camper? Do any of your friends have an RV? Did you know you can rent RVs? 

Do any of your point cards include travel vouchers or travel partners? Perhaps you are already sitting on a free trip without realizing it.

Cheap Travel Tip #3: Come up with Unique and Inexpensive Travel Ideas

Travel close to home -- have you seen your entire state? Local travel is not so expensive and a walk in the countryside is good exercise. You can travel in time by reading a good book, too.

Check with your local senior center. They often have travel offers. In addition, schools and recreational centers often look for seniors to accompany them on trips to help with the children.

Cheap Travel Tip #4: Travel Wide While Staying Close to Home

When we think of traveling we immediately think of jumping on an airplane. Have you moved since high school or college? A trip to your school reunion may be a good opportunity for a trip. You may be able to crash on their sofa like in the old days!

Cheap Travel Tip #5: Look for Special Discounts

On special occasions, tour operators often grant special discounts or savings campaigns. Often there are also discount promotions for bookings on the Internet.

Cheap Travel Tip #6 Stay a Few Free Nights

On special arrival or stay dates, you may receive free nights, which can often be combined with other discounts. It never hurts to ask.

Cheap Travel Tip #7 Be Flexible

Don’t set rigid dates for the outbound and return flights. Often, flights on weekdays (Tue-Thu) are significantly cheaper than on weekends.

Cheap Travel Tip #8 Senior Discounts

In selected hotels, there is often a discount linked to age. Often even combinable with other discount forms. In other words, play the age card!

“Get an RV. This is another way many people are able to travel in retirement on a fixed budget. We've got national parks. We've got beaches. Those and other camping options can make for a cheap way to see the country.” US News Money

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