Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Traveling on a Budget During the Holidays

One of the major perks of retirement is finally having the time and flexibility to travel. But with the holidays approaching, traveling can get expensive. Long layovers can save you money but are exhausting, especially when you’re older and hostels or cheap hotels just aren’t an option for you anymore. You might feel like you can no longer do the same things you used to do to save yourself some money, but it is actually the exact opposite. Traveling during the holidays doesn’t have to be expensive when you’re older. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your money while being mindful of any accommodations you might need. First, let’s talk about preserving your wallet.

THE major perk of traveling when you are older is that you can finally take advantage of senior discounts. Airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruises and even tour agencies all offer discounts exclusively for senior citizens. Even if the booking site doesn’t mention senior discounts on the page, call anyway to ask. Often the senior discount is offered to anyone 50+, which gives you plenty of time to use your discount. And don’t forget that the senior discount may not be the best possible discount you can obtain. If you are 50+, there are certain memberships that you can purchase that offer greater discounts exclusively for you.

An AARP membership is well worth the $16 per year, and you can often obtain a higher discount through this membership than by requesting a senior citizen discount. Plus, AARP offers discounts on plenty of items such as groceries, shopping, health, wellness, restaurants and more. You can use your AARP member benefits for your trip so that the trip preparation and dining doesn’t cost you a pretty penny.

Your senior discount isn’t the only savings you can take advantage of. You can also use travel sites and travel points to find the best possible deal to save even more money. There are plenty of travel sites like Kayak and Expedia that will do the work for you if you prefer not to browse through every single airline, hotel and car rental site individually to find the best deals. These sites often offer discounts when you book all three services through them.

The good travel cards usually require a high credit score, so why not take advantage of the fact that you have been perfecting this score for a while now? Most major airlines offer their own travel card to earn points that you can redeem through them or any allied airline if you plan to travel abroad. However, it may be best to obtain a travel card independent of the airline since your preferred airline may not always offer the best discounts. Here is a list of good travel cards, many of which include sign-up specials. The best way to accumulate travel points is by paying all of your major bills with your credit card, followed by a subsequent payment to your credit card from your bank account. It may be an extra step, but it will save you a lot of money in the end.

Buy your flights as early as possible. If you know your grandkids will more than likely be part of a cute dance recital for Christmas next year, you might want to try and book your flight already. The general rule of thumb is to book a flight four to six weeks in advance for the best possible pricing - that is, unless you are traveling for the holidays - so plan your trip as early as possible. 

This might not seem like your ideal situation. But if you are like most people traveling during the holidays, odds are you will head back home almost immediately after Christmas or Thanksgiving. So why not just head home a little earlier? Not only will you avoid all of the crowds and commotion at the airport, but you will also get significantly better pricing. If you prefer to travel early, you can also catch the first flight out and get to your loved ones just in time for the turkey dinner.

Planning ahead is the essential tip for any kind of travel. Make an item checklist and a tentative itinerary and call ahead. Especially if you require treatment of any sort, it is imperative that you make a checklist of all the items you will be needing and pack an essentials bag. If you plan on being a little more adventurous and taking a trip with your loved ones for the holidays, make an itinerary with enough scheduled rest breaks. This is especially important if your trip involves hiking, sightseeing or accompanying your loved ones to a theme park.

In addition to making sure you have enough rest breaks, you also want to make sure your travel destination has the accessibility you require. Make sure there are wheelchair accommodations, railings and elevators if you need them. Call in advance to make sure they can accommodate your specific condition even if the website says they do. There’s nothing worse than getting somewhere you’ve been looking forward to, only to find out the place is undergoing construction and cannot accommodate your needs at the moment.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can even be cheaper to travel when you are older. If you plan ahead and take full advantage of all of your senior discounts, you can make the most out of your money. Allocate your funds in a smart way so you can travel often, and keep in mind that the more money you save on your trip, the more money you can spend on gifts for your loved ones.

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