(Bill and Ina Garrison Mahoney are a globetrotting couple who recently wrote Vagabonding through Retirement: Unusual Travels Far From Our Paris Houseboat.)
To save on expenses when you travel in retirement, it helps to first ask yourself a few questions: What are your travel goals? Do you want to be a passive observer or an active participant? Are you on a quest for information about the country and its people or is your interest in visiting museums and seeing tourist attractions?
Once you’ve determined your reasons for traveling, you can then decide on a destination and begin employing some of our suggestions below for ways to save.
One overall tip: Most countries with former youth hostels have now opened them to adults, even seniors. These are great money savers; Hostels.com is a helpful resource. Mexico, in particular, has a large backpacker culture with many hostels. If you want to avoid the exuberance of the young, many hostels have rooms where you can have privacy — although many seniors find the young helpful, since they are often eager to share their money-saving tips.
Most countries with former youth hostels have now opened them to adults, even seniors. These are great money savers.
How to Save When Traveling In Developed Countries
A few tips if you’ll be visiting developed countries:
Book in advance You can get a better rate not only on accommodations, but also on entrance fees if you make prior bookings online.
Consider a kitchen If you stay in a place with one, you can save money by preparing some of your own food. Pick up a frozen dish to microwave. (If you’ll be visiting Paris, we recommend stopping at Picard, a gourmet frozen food store with many tempting selections.)
Make lunch a picnic, not a restaurant meal Buy a baguette, cheese and ham from a supermarket and enjoy eating in one of the quiet parks or by the riverside. If you will go to restaurants, choose ones away from tourist areas where prices are often inflated.
Take advantage of free entertainment Many cities have free museum days on the first Sunday of the month. Large tourist attractions like Pompidou Center in Paris are particularly lively on Sundays, so enjoy them!
If you’ll visit Australia or New Zealand, consider package tours There’s a lot of territory to cover, but it isn’t easy to save money on your own. Getting there is expensive, as is traveling within the country, because of the distance involved.
How to Save When Traveling In Developing Countries
And if you’ll be visiting developing countries:
Get a good guidebook The Lonely Planet or Rough Guide series are good choices. They include more bargain tips than most American guides.
Eat your heart out Food is often quite good and inexpensive in developing countries.
Seek out alternatives to taxis In Asia, you might get around in small trucks with benches in the back. Though you will probably be crowded in adaptations like these, the locals appreciate you traveling as they do.
See religious practices in action Thailand is great for learning about the Buddhists, India for Hindus, and Bali for a type of Hindu-animistic religion. These countries are all moderately priced and their food is delicious.