You don’t let your age slow you down, so you definitely won’t let budget prevent you from traveling either.
If you make travel a priority, you can make it a reality. Even if you’re not looking to blow your life savings, it’s still more than possible to have an amazing trip. Check out these budget travel tips for Boomers:
Use the Right Credit and Debit Cards
The first thing you can do to save money, of course, is to travel for free. And the best way to do this is to earn points that you can use for airline travel every time you use your credit card. Many credit cards award you points for every dollar you spend. Among the best are the USBank Flex Perks, the Chase Sapphire and the American Express Platinum. An added advantage to using credit card points rather than airline points to purchase your ticket is that the airline treats the tickets as paid. That is, you also get mileage credit from the airline for your purchase.
You really don’t need more than one credit card and one debit card while traveling, so don’t pay any more annual fees than you have to. If you’re going to travel internationally, make sure the card you choose charges no foreign currency transaction fees. That’ll save you up to three percent on all purchases right there. All the cards named above don’t charge foreign currency fees. The best addition to them is the Schwab debit card, which you’ll use to get cash. The Schwab card doesn’t charge foreign currency fees and also reimburses your ATM fees.
We prefer to go to one place and stay for awhile. This has three benefits. First, you can sometimes negotiate a lower rate on your stay for multiple nights; especially, if you’re using a service like AirBnB, VRBO or dealing directly with a hotel. When you’re booking your accommodation, the rates on the hotel’s web site are usually lower than what you’ll find on booking services. Second, you save money by not traveling on trains or planes so much. Third, you can often take advantage of multi-day city passes that get you big discounts on local transportation, museums and more.
Really. You need a lot less than you think, and, if you can get it all into your carry-on, you save baggage fees, porter tips and your back. The best way to do this is to invest in travel specific clothes—lightweight, wash and quick dry everything. We travel for months with one carry-on and a small backpack. If we can go for six months without checking a bag, you can go two weeks.
Go in the Off Season
You’d be surprised how much you can save, especially when going to big tourist destinations, by going in November instead of July. The hotels are cheaper, the flights are cheaper, and even the restaurants often drop their fixed menu prices for the locals. A nice room in Florence for €50 a night? It’s not impossible in winter. A corollary: due to recent political developments, places like Jordan and Egypt are fantastic bargains.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
A good way to get a list of these restaurants is to ask your host or hotel receptionist. The concierge might send you to the more touristy places. Also, ask about local markets. Shopping at them is a real treat, both from a taste and experience standpoint. And, most supermarkets now have a deli section where you can often get a fresh meal to go.
Don’t Rent Cars in Cities
In most cities, there’s no point in renting a car. You can get anywhere in a city by walking, public transport or a taxi. If you rent a car in a city, you have to pay to park it somewhere. And, that can get expensive. Save your car rental for the days you want to drive around the countryside. Bunch up those days so you’re staying in small towns where it’s easy to park. Return the car to the airport or train station as you leave.
If you’re going to travel around an area for an extended period, consider getting a rail pass such as Eurail or Japan Rail Pass. Both Eurail and Japan Rail Pass have great phone and computer apps that let you plan your trips in a flash. If you do a lot of traveling within an area and for a fixed time period, they save a bundle on fares. And, the real advantage is that the train stations are in the middle of the city. Often, your hotel is a short walk away. In other words, no expensive and time consuming airport transfers. And, no security lines.
Drink the House Wine at Restaurants
It’s what the locals do. A carafe of the wine of the region is often just as good, and always a lot cheaper, than a bottle from the wine list.
Don’t Eat the Hotel Breakfast
In most places, you’re going to pay the equivalent of $20-25 for the fancy buffet. Even in Paris, you can get a coffee, croissant and an orange juice for about $5 in a local bar.
Ask for Discounts at Any Attraction You Visit
Seniors are often entitled to them, and the age to be considered a senior varies from 55 to 65 in countries we’ve visited. The discounts can be substantial, too. Maybe the best deal of all is at many London theaters. They’re notoriously pricy, with better seats going for up to $150. We’ve got the very same seats at the Royal Shakespeare Company for about $45 just by asking for the senior discount.