How to travel the world when you retire is not as easy as it sounds.
There’s a lot to think about when you retire. Most retirees will probably tell you that retirement is not what they thought it was going to be.
Many people find this a difficult transition, and soon become bored. A lot end up going back to work. I am not one of those people. I still work occasionally as a broadcaster, doing fill-in work on the air when it suits my schedule. I find my days just fly by. I work on Zoonie Travel every day, I read everything, and I am now the chief domestic engineer, so I am never bored.
I also thought that I would be gallivanting around the world, traveling practically non-stop. It didn’t turn out that way for me.
I took a solo trip to Panama and Peru which was amazing. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if my wife had been there. She is still working, so it wasn’t possible for her to go. I did a lot, and saw a lot, but there were times where I wished I could share the experiences with her. I know many people who love solo travel, and prefer it. I discovered I am not one of them.
There are many other things to consider when you’re retired and you want to travel. A big one is money. With two incomes coming in, we took trips that were beyond our budget, but we had the luxury of being able to pay them off quickly. On a fixed income, that will definitely change.
One of the biggest costs of travel is accommodation. When you’re on a fixed retirement income, you have to set a travel budget and stick to it. It’s entirely possible to stay in a wonderful place quite inexpensively. Using Paris as an example, you can stay a 20 minute Metro ride from the city center and save substantial amounts of money.
Rent a hotel room or Airbnb with kitchen facilities, buy your supplies at the local market or grocery store, and cook your own meals. Food is expensive in Paris, so the savings can really add up.
If you really want to save on a place to stay, it doesn’t get any cheaper than a hostel. Even at my advanced age, I stay in hostels when I travel alone. I require a quiet hostel with a private room and a private bathroom. It’s not the Ritz, but it can save you a lot of money. If you’re booking a hostel, make sure you do your research. The last thing you want is to end up in a party place where nobody goes to bed until sunrise. There are more hostels these days that cater to an older crowd.
The cheapest way to see the sights is to take public transit, and just walk around. There are many free and low cost audio tours that you can load onto your phone. One of my favorite ways of seeing a place is to hop on a city bus and just ride it until it returns to where you got on. It may take a little longer, but you’ll see the real city. Taking taxis or car services will cost you much more. Look for a public transit card like New York’s MetroCard, the Paris Visite travel pass, or London’s Oyster card.
Most cities have “free” walking tours. The guides are usually pretty good, but they depend on tips. Many of them will take you to a wine shop, gift store, or other place where you will be offered free samples, or special deals. The guides usually get a cut of any purchases.
Hop on hop off bus tours are relatively cheap, and a great way to quickly see the main sights. If you see something particularly interesting, you can hop off, enjoy a visit, then hop back on the next bus. Be sure to check the schedules so you don’t get stranded. One of my favorites is a combo package. In Paris, we took the hop on hop off bus, then got on a River Seine boat tour, and ended with tickets to the Eiffel Tower, all for one price. These tickets bypassed the long ticket lines at the Eiffel Tower, but you still have to endure the lines waiting for the elevators. We were glad we went to the top. The view is spectacular.
The best way to see a place is to hire a personal guide. They also offer small group tours that are cheaper.
You can really blow the budget on dining in restaurants. One way to save money on dining is to pick one or two restaurants that you really want to visit. The rest of the time, eat where the locals eat. In many cities, that means the food carts you see on the streets. If you’re not sure which one to pick, look for the busiest one. Some of my best meals have come from street carts, and when I lived in New York City, I ate street food almost every day.
Using Paris as an example, have a picnic in one of the city’s many parks. Stop at a boulangerie and pick up some fresh bread (many of them have freshly prepared sandwiches), then visit the fromagerie for cheese. Next stop? A traiteur where quiches, terrines, salads and other prepared foods are the mainstay. And of course the marchand de vin for an inexpensive, but lovely, bottle of wine, and, finally, the patisserie for some fabulous desserts. Rick Steves has a very good plastic utensil set for two that includes a corkscrew. Since it has a corkscrew, the TSA and other security may not allow it on your carry-on, so put it in your checked bag.
Shopping can eat up a lot of of your budget. One way to save money is to shop in the large department stores where the locals shop. Sometimes you have to get a little off the beaten trap to find them, but it can be worth the time and effort. In many big cities, the big tourist areas will have name brand stand alone stores where the rent is very high, and so are the prices. The chances are very good that you can find the same brands in a large department store for a lot less money.
One shopping tip that can save you money is to buy your clothes at your destination. Skip the checked bag fee, and carry on the bare minimum, like a change of underwear, a pair of socks, and a shirt or t-shirt. If you really want to save, you can buy a budget airfare that charges for overhead carry-on space, and just bring a bag that fits under the seat. Then when you get to your destination, go to a department store and buy the clothing you need. Many people just leave the clothes in their hotel room when they leave. That clothing will be used by the housekeeping staff, or donated. If you find things like souvenirs and apparel that you really want to bring back, you can buy a cheap carry-on suitcase and pay the fee. You’ll still be ahead of the game.
If you’d like to try some of these money saving ideas, but you’re not comfortable doing all the leg work, why not let us do it? We can custom tailor an itinerary that meets all your requirements for a mere $50. We have a satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with what we come up with, you don’t have to pay us. Click here to contact our planners.
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