Great to see you here again! In Parts 1 and 2 of this interview article with Nomadic Matt, Matt told us what he was afraid of when it came to traveling, before he hit the road and never turned back… As well as what eased those fears.
Then he told us about the cool “seniors” he’s met while he’s been traveling, places to avoid, and what Matt would be afraid of if he was a senior.
In Part 3, you’re going to read a bunch of great tips from this awesome budget travel expert.
Is there any special advice or tips you’d give to seniors that want to travel on a budget to make their retirement money go a little further and get the most out of their experience?
Absolutely! Let’s start with flights.
Here are some tips to lower flight costs:
Get travel credit cards to earn points and miles – Playing the travel hacking game is even more important when you want to fly comfortably – think business or first class on that flight to Australia.
With very little work, you can accumulate hundreds of thousands of points — enough to get you and your family anywhere in the world you want. For example, the new British Airways Avios card offers 50,000 points on sign-up (up to 100,000 if you meet their spending requirements), and that’s enough to get you anywhere in the continental US.
Fly to less frequented destinations — Long-haul international flights are quite expensive, but flights to locations only a few hours from you won’t be.
Fly to a less-visited destination closer to you and get cheaper flights. Here are some good flight deal websites: The Flight Deal, Momondo, Skyscanner, Airfarewatchdog, Holiday Pirates.
Beyond using points or finding some amazing deal, there’s not much you can do to lower the cost of flights. There are ways to avoid being the person who pays the most for their ticket but, without points, there’s no way to get free or very discounted flights.
When you’re traveling, being budget conscious becomes even more important, as food costs can ruin your budget. Here are some tips that can help:
Cook your own meals…as if you’re at home – Obviously, cooking food will be cheaper than eating out. Visit local markets or grocery stores, get some food, and have a picnic or make sandwiches for later. When I don’t have access to a kitchen, I buy a lot of pre-made meals at supermarkets. They aren’t world-class meals but they do the trick.
Get lunch specials to eat well in the middle of the day — The best time to eat out at restaurants is during lunch when places offer lunch specials and set menus that are cheaper than dinnertime menus (especially in Europe and Singapore).
Dine at food trucks and street food stands — If you’re in a place with food trucks or street food, eat there. Not only will these meals be cheaper, they will probably be very tasty too.
Never eat near tourist attractions — If you eat near a major site, food will be three times as expensive and probably a third as good. Walk at least four blocks away before you pick a restaurant. You’ll get cheaper, more authentic local food this way.
Use city tourism cards to get discounts and free entrance into local museums and attractions.
Tourism offices (think London Tourism, Paris Tourism, New York Tourism, etc.) offer these cards that give you free entry and substantial discounts to participating attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation (a huge plus), and discounts at a few restaurants and shopping malls.
They last for a varying number of days and are one of the best ways to see many attractions on the cheap.
Also, don’t forget to bring a photo ID with a proof of age. Attractions around the world give discounted rates to seniors. Be sure to ask before you pay!
For older travelers who are looking to travel the world in a bit more comfort but not looking to spend a lot of money, many of the above tips will work too.
But the most common concern I hear is that I write too much about hostels, and most older travelers want an alternative.
Some of my favorite non-hostel options include:
- Airbnb rentals
- YHA hostels
- Budget hotels
- Farm stays
- Use a hospitality network — Many of the hospitality networks like Couchsurfing, Hospitality Club, and Servas have numerous hosts who take families. There is often this perception that these websites are for just young, solo travelers, but many, many hosts take families and older couples (Hospitality Club and Servas more so than Couchsurfing).
For people who want to join a group tour, there’s usually an expensive single supplement charge for individual travelers. To avoid those fees, use small group tour operators like Intrepid Travel.
It’s really only the large bus companies that still have that fee anyway (think Globus or Trafalgar tours). Most small operators have discontinued the practice of single supplements. Generally, anyone who runs groups smaller than 15 travelers or offers a hop-on/hop-off style service won’t require a single supplement.
Well, what did you reckon? How do you feel about traveling now? I hope this article has helped you see that traveling when you’re at or nearing retirement age is easier than you might think!
Thank you Matt, for a great interview. I feel inspired…!