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Making Travel a Reality in Retirement

August 3rd, 2009 at 04:53 pm

When I decided to retire a year ago, I knew we could live more frugally in some ways but I also knew that travel would be a bigger expense, given that we'd have more time for it. And, after years of working hard and looking forward to retirement, it would be disappointing to have to limit travel due to lack of funds. So, to what extent would we be able to afford retirement travel? To figure this out, prior to retiring I analyzed our projected monthly expenses in relation to our retirement income. I included "travel" as a monthly expense.

For us, travel planning begins with reviewing our calendar and discussing where we'd like to go in the coming year. We take into account visits with family, work/volunteer schedules, other financial obligations, and timeshare options. In 2009, our travel plans have included Carmel, San Antonio, an Alaskan cruise, and a trip to Payette Lake in McCall, ID. Once we know when and where, I estimate expenses for airfare, hotels, meals, and excursions. That amount is prorated and I deposit a monthly amount to the savings account that holds travel funds.

Then I challenge myself to reduce the cost of our planned travel as much as possible. For example, our hotels in Carmel, San Antonio, and McCall were reserved through our timeshare, so aside from the annual dues, there was no hotel expense. The airfare for San Antonio was purchased with miles, so we paid only the airport taxes (~$20). The airfare to Seattle (departure port for cruise) was 50% off because I used my mileage card rewards.

For the Alaskan cruise, we received a "military discount" available to anyone who has ever served in the military, no matter when. We were eligible for the discount due to dh's service during the Vietnam War and this saved ~$500. A few days before the final payment was due, I called the cruise line and negotiated an additional savings of $240 plus $100 onboard credit. A few days before departure the cruise line called to see if we were interested in upgrading to a suite for a reasonable price and we did.

The effort to systematically save and reduce travel costs pays off because the travel fund is growing. I usually deposit any "windfalls" into this account. In 2010, we want to go to Machu Picchu and take a Hawaiian cruise, so I'm starting to plan and save for those already. Retirement travel is possible because we live a simple life with no debt (except for a small mortgage) and we carefully plan and save for each trip. We've always said travel would be a priority in our retirement and we definitely want to make hay while the sun shines.

3 Responses to “Making Travel a Reality in Retirement ”

  1. monkeymama Says:

    My in-laws are the same way. Exactly the same way. They love to travel though. Thankfully dh did not get that gene - LOL. But before full retirement (2 years away for them) they don't really travel enough to use up all their miles and timeshares and points, etc. (hard to imagine), so they give a lot of it to us. Which is nice. Big Grin I still think it will be much nicer when they can use all that for themselves. Really what they have been working for their whole lives...

  2. scfr Says:

    This is a great post. Thank you for sharing what can be achieved through planning!

  3. Jerry Says:

    Why not take a Hawaiian cruise to Machu Picchu? Oh, no, wait... that might be a geographic impossibility. =) I admire your willingness to see the world and let your minds lead you around to different places. It is the one insurance that we can begin to understand other cultures and the human condition, in my opinion. I like how you make it all work more frugally, as well!
    Jerry

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