How to Travel the World and Still Save for Retirement

Summary: If you want to travel the world without derailing your retirement plans, know that your dream is well within your reach. All it takes is a lot of planning and some confidence!

Many working Americans often look forward to retiring so they can finally use the opportunity to travel the world.

According to Statista, over 38 million Americans traveled in 2022. So even with a full-time job, you too can dream of packing your bags and riding off into the sunset. But it still begs the question, “How can I travel the world while making sure to save for my retirement?”

In this article, we will explore how you can go globetrotting and still have a cozy nest egg waiting for you when you retire.

Why should you travel the world before retirement?

Before giving into your wanderlust, let’s address the question on many minds: why not wait for retirement and then travel the world?

Well, the answer is simple: life is short and the world is vast. Plus, traveling offers numerous benefits beyond leisure and relaxation. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons, immerse yourself in different cultures and gain valuable life experiences.

Whether it’s exploring ancient ruins in Peru, indulging in culinary delights in Italy, trekking through the jungles of Southeast Asia or embarking on a road trip to a national wonders like the Grand Canyon, every journey adds richness and depth to your life story.

Moreover, traveling before retirement allows you to make travel plans that require a certain amount of adventurousness and spontaneity (not to mention relatively higher fitness levels) that might become difficult with age.

At this stage, you’re likely to have a steady income from your job, so it might be easier for you to recover unexpected trip expenses. Your time is also your own, which makes it easier to go on extended trips. When you retire, you may be more likely to travel with your kids and grandkids, so your travel plans could be built around their schedules and school holidays.

Most importantly, seeking to experience new places and cultures can spark creativity, enhance problem-solving skills and foster personal growth. So why wait until retirement to start exploring the world when you can begin the adventure right now?

Will your retirement savings diminish with pre-retirement travel?

Now, onto the million-dollar question: will your retirement savings be depleted by your travels? It’s a valid concern, seeing that travel expenses can quickly add up, leaving little room for saving.

However, with careful planning and smart financial strategies, you can travel the world without sacrificing your long-term financial security.

One common misconception is that traveling is inherently expensive. While it’s true that luxury vacations to exotic destinations can be pricey, there are plenty of ways to travel the world on a budget.

From booking affordable accommodations, to getting the right travel insurance and picking the best-priced flights, there are numerous ways to reduce expenses without compromising on the quality of your experiences.

Additionally, taking advantage of travel rewards programs, house-sitting opportunities and volunteer exchange programs can further stretch your travel budget.

Another concern you may have is the opportunity cost of spending money on travel rather than saving for retirement. While long-term financial goals are a priority, it’s important to strike a balance between saving for the future and enjoying the present.

How to travel the world and still save for retirement

Now that we’ve addressed the whys and the worries around this topic, let’s delve into how to make it happen. Here are some practical travel tips and strategies to travel the world without burning a hole in your pocket:

1. Create a detailed budget

The first step in balancing travel expenses with retirement savings is creating a detailed budget. When budgeting, track your current spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back and reallocate funds towards travel and retirement savings.

Be sure to include all expenses, from everyday necessities like groceries and transportation to discretionary spending on entertainment and dining out.

Once you have a clear picture of your finances, allocate a portion of your income towards both travel and retirement savings, making adjustments as needed to stay within budget.

2. Embrace frugal travel tactics

Traveling on a realistic budget doesn’t necessarily mean a less enjoyable experience. There are plenty of ways to explore the world without breaking the bank:

  • Research cost-effective destinations: Consider traveling to destinations where your money goes further. Places like Southeast Asia offer affordable accommodations, food and activities compared to more expensive destinations like Europe.
  • Look for deals on flights and accommodations: Utilize flight comparison websites and hotel booking platforms to find the best deals. Booking in advance or traveling during off-peak seasons can result in significant savings.
  • Be flexible with your itinerary: Remain open to last-minute discounts and deals. Being flexible with your travel dates and destinations can lead to unexpected savings.
  • Consider alternative lodging options: Explore alternative lodging options such as hostels, guesthouses and vacation rentals, which tend to be more affordable than traditional hotels. Additionally, these options often provide a more authentic and immersive travel experience.
  • Travel Light: Pack only the essentials to avoid additional baggage fees and make transportation easier and more affordable.

Embracing frugal travel tactics allows you to make the most of your travel experiences while staying within your budget.

3. Maximize travel rewards

The US travel industry is a big money spinner and expected to generate $1.2 trillion in revenue by 2026. Naturally, this prompts companies in the travel and tourism sector to offer many discounts and rewards to travelers. Keep an eye for these deals and make the most of travel rewards programs to offset the cost of flights, accommodations and other travel costs.

Consider travel credit cards that offer sign-up bonuses, rewards points and other perks such as airline lounge access and complimentary travel insurance.

Be sure to pay off your credit card balance in full each month to avoid accruing interest charges and use special promotions and bonus categories to maximize your rewards earnings.

4. Prioritize retirement contributions

Although it’s tempting to allocate a big chunk your disposable income towards travel, it’s crucial not to lose sight of your retirement savings in the process.

Make it a priority to contribute to retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or IRA regularly. Take advantage of employer matching contributions if available, as this is essentially free money that can help boost your retirement savings over time.

If you can, automate your contributions to ensure consistency and consider increasing your contributions whenever possible, especially as your income grows.

5. Plan for healthcare expenses

Healthcare costs can be a significant expense, especially as you age, so it’s essential to plan ahead and budget accordingly.

Before traveling abroad, check with your existing healthcare provider to understand if your coverage includes international services or if you need additional travel insurance.

Explore options for accessing healthcare services abroad, such as expat clinics and medical tourism facilities, which can often provide high-quality care for a reasonable cost.

6. Diversify your investments

When saving for retirement, it’s essential to diversify your investment portfolio to mitigate risk and help maximize returns.

Consider allocating your retirement savings across a mix of asset classes, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate, to help ensure a more balanced and resilient portfolio.

Consult with a financial professional to develop a personalized investment strategy based on your risk tolerance and financial goals. In parallel, rebalance your portfolio from time to time to maintain the desired asset allocation and adjust your investment strategy as needed based on changing market conditions and life circumstances. Keep in mind these strategies do not guarantee a profit in an advancing market or provide protection from losses in a declining market.

7. Stay flexible and adapt

Finally, remember that life is unpredictable and plans may need to change unexpectedly. Stay flexible and adaptable in your approach to both travel and retirement planning. Be prepared to tweak your goals and strategies to new circumstances.

Keep an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses or financial setbacks, and regularly review and revise your budget, travel plans and retirement savings strategy to ensure they align with your current priorities and circumstances.

If you’re traveling on a tight budget, consider exploring domestic destinations in the U.S. to save on international airfare and accommodations. Further cut costs by renting or borrowing a camper/RV, camping, staying with friends or family, sharing vacation rentals with friends, or using travel rewards to offset expenses.

Embracing these alternatives allows you to continue exploring and enjoying new experiences while staying within your budget.

Travel the world without financial compromise

Traveling the world and saving for retirement are not mutually exclusive goals. With careful planning, budgeting and smart financial strategies, you can fulfill your thirst for adventure and future-proof your finances.

With the right guidance and foresight, you can enjoy the present moment by fitting traveling into your retirement plans. As you travel the world and see new sights, remember to contact Mutual of Omaha for experienced financial advice and retirement planning to help ensure you’re on the right track for a secure and enjoyable retirement.


Q1: Is it possible to travel the world and still save for retirement?

Absolutely! With careful planning and budgeting, you can enjoy your globetrotting adventures while still building a solid foundation for your retirement future.

Q2: How can I save money while traveling?

Look for budget-friendly accommodations, take advantage of travel rewards programs, cook your meals instead of dining out and seek out free or low-cost activities and attractions.

Q3: Should I prioritize travel or retirement savings?

It’s essential to strike a balance between enjoying life now and planning for the future. If you’re behind in your retirement savings, consider waiting until your savings reach a healthy level, exploring budget-friendly domestic destinations or using travel rewards to offset expenses. Allocate a portion of your income towards both travel and retirement savings to ensure you’re investing in both your present happiness and long-term financial security.

Q4: How can I maximize travel rewards to save for retirement?

Utilize credit cards with travel rewards programs, take advantage of sign-up bonuses and strategically use points and miles to offset travel expenses. By effectively managing and leveraging travel rewards, you can save money on travel and allocate more funds towards retirement savings.

Q5: How can I create a travel budget that aligns with my retirement savings goals?

Determine your travel priorities, research estimated costs for transportation, accommodations and activities, and set a realistic travel budget within your overall financial plan. Regularly review and adjust your travel budget to ensure it aligns with your retirement savings goals and financial priorities.

Q6: Can I use my retirement savings to fund travel?

While it’s possible to use your retirement savings to fund travel, it’s generally not recommended due to potential tax implications and the risk of depleting your retirement funds. Instead, prioritize saving for both travel and retirement separately to help maintain a balanced and sustainable financial plan.


Registered Representatives offer securities through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representatives offer advisory services through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. Not all Mutual of Omaha Financial Representatives are Financial Advisors.

Mutual of Omaha and its representatives do not provide tax and/or legal advice, and the information provided herein is general in nature and should not be considered tax and/or legal advice.