Splash into a Post-Retirement Vacation (without Drowning in Debt)

Guest Blog Post WRITTEN BY Sharon Wagner of seniorfriendly.info.

A man wearing red sneakers relaxing on a hammock.After decades of hard work, you want to spend your retirement soaking up the sun, exploring new places, and enjoying new experiences. But you also want to watch your nickels and dimes. Here’s how you do both:

  • Manage costs at home. One of the biggest issues with an American lifestyle is waste. We waste food, we waste energy, and we waste money. However, there are many things you can do at home before leaving for your trip that will help keep costs down—and even add a little padding to your vacation budget. As HomeAdvisor’s vacation preparation guide explains, this includes unplugging appliances, changing the temperature on your HVAC, and skipping the perishable foods in the days leading up to your trip. Not only will these steps allow you to leave worry-free, they will also reduce your utility expenses while you’re away.
  • Stick to outdoor entertainment. Some of the most relaxing—and interesting—activities are free. Lounging on the beach, people watching in historic town squares, and hiking are a few prime examples of low- to no-fee things you can do if you pick the right location. Time recommends Biloxi, MS, Savannah, GA, and Tampa Bay, FL as great weekend getaway spots for seniors. These coastal towns are affordable and boast relatively warm weather throughout the year. If you’re interested in traveling to somewhere a bit more tropical, without over-flexing your wallet, you might consider immersing yourself in the culture of the Caribbean—check out some of these Caribbean travel deals for seniors.
  • Look for senior discounts. Maybe you don’t like the silver in your hair, but you can save some serious coinage by showing it off. According to RetiredBrains.com, there are tons of travel discounts you can take advantage of once you hit your 60th birthday. These include a 25 percent discount on Alamo rental cars, 10 percent on rooms at Best Western, up to 30 percent off the Comfort Inn & Suites, and assorted discounts with most airlines. Don’t forget to ask for your senior discount at grocery stores, restaurants, and attractions. If you’re not a member of the AARP, now is the perfect time to join since membership comes with many perks that can help you prolong your travel plans.
  • Travel with friends. Perhaps one of the best ways to save money on travel is to simply bring a group along with you. Most hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins accommodate four people comfortably. Often, a room/cabin for four cost the same as for a duo of travelers. You can split your accommodation costs four ways, effectively slashing 50 percent off your bill. If you’re renting a condominium or house, you’ll spend about the same amount of money but will have more room to spread out and can also split the cost of food and take turns cooking. A word of caution, however, only travel with friends who like the same things you do and, if you want the most relaxing experience possible, avoid large groups.
  • Check Groupon, but wait before you buy. Groupon and similar sites have a rotating carousel of highly discounted travel. It’s an easy way for hotels to fill empty rooms during the down season. You might, for example, snag a cabin in the mountains the week after Thanksgiving for two nights for $179—a steal compared to mid October, when the same accommodations may command $500 or more per night. Check the site periodically, but don’t be afraid to call hotels and travel agencies advertising directly. Sometimes, they may be willing to give you the same discount by booking directly since Groupon takes a huge chunk of their payments. Dealing directly with the hotel has plenty of benefits in itself, including having a better chance of getting the best room and letting you collect points on your frequent traveler account.

One of the greatest things about being retired is that you don’t have to travel during peak seasons. This alone can save you thousands of dollars and let you experience the world sans the crowds. Don’t forget to ask for your discounts and deal with your hotel directly.

Sharon is the creator of SeniorFriendly.info, which provides tips for staying active as you age. You can contact her through the website

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