How to Travel on a Budget in Retirement

By Heather Hoffman, Marketing and Communications Specialist


If increasing your travel in retirement is a major goal for you, you’re not alone. In a 2022 study, it was found that 60% of Americans list traveling as part of their retirement dreams- more than any other option. As we near closer to summer, thoughts of traveling are likely more prevalent than ever. Whether you’ve already started your retirement and are worried about your nest egg, or you want to be well prepared before the time hits, keep reading for some tips for how to travel on a budget in retirement.  

1. Plan ahead and know when the cheapest time to book is.

By planning your travel ahead of time, you can save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on booking costs. You experience the same places, accommodations, and schedule, but due to fluctuating pricing, the impact on your finances can drastically change. There is no guaranteed way to get the best prices, but there are some best practices that travelers tend to agree on. As a rule of thumb, here are some general best practices to get the best price:

Long flights: Start monitoring 6-7 months in advance, and book 3-5 months in advance.

Short flights/ domestic travel: Start monitoring 3-4 months in advance, and book 1-2 months in advance.


2. Try to go in the off season and avoid holiday times.

In retirement, you likely won’t have to strategize and use your PTO days in conjunction with holidays when the office is closed. These days tend to have higher travel volume, which causes prices to soar. If you can plan your travel in the off season, this can help reduce your overall cost. Try to avoid spring break, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and peak summer travel. Of course, if you have a family event or just want to get away, this doesn’t mean you can’t travel during those times. You might need to sacrifice higher end lodging or optimal flight times to make up for it.


3. Stick to one airline or hotel brand and earn loyalty rewards.

Most airlines offer strong rewards for traveling with them. By choosing to fly with the same airline, your points grow much faster, earning you reduced or free flights. Some airlines even offer you certain perks once you reach a certain number of flights with them. This could be in-flight purchase credit, lounge access, and more. Hotel loyalty programs are often overlooked. Many hotels are a part of a larger ecosystem, which opens up more opportunities for you to earn points. Some programs even cover airlines and hotels. Make sure you make an account when booking to reap the benefits.


4. Look into alternative forms of transportation.

Ubers and Lyfts can be an easy and convenient way to get around a new city. But, their prices can set your budget back before you even realize. It is hard to gauge how much to budget for them since they utilize surge pricing. An alternative could be researching the public transportation available. If you’re going to a larger city, they likely have busses or metros that would be significantly cheaper than ridesharing apps. There is extra work that goes into planning for this, as a bus won’t take you directly to your desired location. Keep in mind you can use a combination of Ubers, Lyfts, and public transportation.


5. Attend free attractions.

This one might seem like a given, but attending free attractions can significantly reduce your travel cost. Just because a museum, zoo, historic site, etc. is free does not make it less worth seeing. Simply Googling “Best free attractions in XX” will surely bring up plenty of options.


6. Look for places with senior discounts.

When comparing prices on accommodations or attractions, don’t forget to factor in if any include a senior discount. It might seem small at the time, but it can definitely add up when used frequently.


7. Make a list of your priorities for traveling.

Just because you’re traveling on a budget does not mean you have to choose the most cost-effective option every time. By creating a list of what’s most important to you, you can figure out how to balance your splurges. For example, if you don’t care about a luxury hotel, you can take the extra money you would have spent and put it towards getting souvenirs for your family. Keep in mind that you still should be aiming to spend less. Just because you find one hotel for $500, and you book one for $100, does not mean you just saved $400. Finding a balance between your priorities and what works for your financial situation is key.


8. Choose countries that are cheaper to travel in.

When deciding on international travel, some countries are less expensive than others. You can do a quick search to find countries that could cost under $50 a day to travel within. Planning and research are the keys to staying on budget.


9. Plan longer trips, not more frequent trips.

On average, you can expect to spend around 44% of your travel funds on transportation. That’s a big portion! That means it’s typically cheaper to travel to one destination for 2-3 weeks verses taking 3 separate, weeklong trips. This doesn’t mean you have to stay in one place for that long! You can still utilize public transportation, especially in places like Europe, to see plenty of locations. Or, renting a car for a day or two at a time can help cut down on costs.


10. Purchase travel insurance. 

It’s never fun to think about the possibility of a trip not happening after pouring time and money into it, and it’s even less fun to not get that money back. Anything can happen when traveling during retirement. You can get sick, a family emergency can occur, or even a pandemic can start. Even something as simple as a flight delay can throw off your whole plan. While travel insurance is a separate cost, you’ll be glad you have it if something were to happen. Even if you don’t end up needing it, travel insurance can give you peace of mind before and throughout your trip.



Traveling during retirement doesn’t have to be something you’re afraid or worried about. By utilizing these tips, you can help protect your nest egg, while still living life how you want to. But no matter how frugal you are while traveling, you must have a strong retirement savings and plan in place before booking any flights. Go to to see how a financial advisor can help.


The opinions voiced are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.