How to Fit Travel into Your Retirement Budget


Making travel work on a fixed income can be a challenge. But it is possible! Maybe you’d like to follow your grandchild’s regional soccer tournament. You are, after all, their favorite cheerleader! Or perhaps you want to visit a friend who lives across the country. Learn how to properly plan for travel during retirement with a few easy-to-follow approaches to saving and planning.

Retirement travel if you’re already retired:
If you’ve already retired, it isn’t too late to work regular travel into your budget. In fact, there are many ways you could go about it.

One option would be to put some of your retirement funds into an annuity. By calculating the monthly amount you need – including necessities and hobbies or travel plans – and then purchasing an annuity against that amount, you would receive a monthly payout based on that calculation for the rest of your life and based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company.

To figure out an estimate of how much to invest in annuity, follow this formula:

Monthly expenses x 12 x number of years you need income = Annuity amount

Another option would be to create a budget. Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing where you spend money each month that helps you save and plan.

Budgets provide a spending structure, help you track your costs and view your spending habits, and make it easier to work toward savings goals. You’ll be on the road in no time! For example, you can intentionally plan to spend just $50 less per month with minimal impact to your daily routine. It could come from monthly hobbies like movie tickets, or you could cut back on the amount of non-essential groceries you purchase. Perhaps you simply choose to dine out one less time per month. By creating slight shifts in your spending habits, you can invest in your budget’s travel line item.

Planning for travel before you retire:
To start saving for travel in advance of your retirement, remember to calculate potential travel expenses as your estimated retirement savings needs. If you are thinking through retirement planning on an annual basis, calculate your most expensive ideal trip, and your least expensive – and then add that total amount as an addition to the annual amount you already planned to save.

Create and contribute to a savings account for future trips. That way, you have a travel fund available to you when you’re ready to use it. If you aren’t sure where you stand in terms of retirement planning, calculate how much income your 401k may provide, and estimate how much you will get from social security.

Other ways to save
Thinking creatively, planning ahead, and being strategic can help keep dollars in your pocket when travelling. Here are some other ideas for keeping travel costs low.

Be flexible! It’s one of the best ways to save on trips. If you can travel during off seasons or on off days, you can often get lower prices. With no work schedule to interfere, retirees can take advantage of this easier than most.

Take advantage of deals for seniors.

  • The National Parks offer a $10 lifetime pass for seniors that includes a 50 percent discount for camping.
  • Many airlines offer a 10 percent or more senior discount.
  • A $16 annual AARP membership provides access to dozens of discounts on hotels, trips and transportation.
  • Both Jiffy Lube and Midas offer discounted service to seniors.1
  • Grocery chains like Harris Teeter and Publix offer discounts to seniors in certain states and on specific days.2

Check online for deals, and don’t hesitate to call a hotel or airline to see if there are specials available to traveling seniors.

Don’t forget to try these Tips for Travel Budgeting to look for ways to make the trip itself more affordable.

1 AARP (March 3, 2015). Web page: 10 Places to Ask for a Discount. Retrieved March 6, 2018, from

2 The Senior List (November 15, 2017) Web page: 2018 Senior Discounts for Grocery Stores. Retrieved March 6, 2018, from

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