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Eighty percent of people approaching retirement either haven’t planned for travel expenses or don’t plan to travel in their golden years, according to U.S. News & World Report. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail, and those who are already retired don’t have the benefit of changing their saving patterns in anticipation of a Mediterranean cruise or African safari. But there are ways to minimize the costs and maximize your enjoyment of retirement travel. Here are three to get you started:
Claim Senior Discounts – You’ve Earned Them
Age is nothing but a number, but the economic wisdom that comes with it should not go to waste. There are far too many companies offering senior discounts on their goods and services to not take advantage of them. While some businesses make their senior discounts well known, you can always ask the clerk before handing over your credit card, too. It can save you a penny here and a few dollars there.
Seniors can see several destinations in both the U.S. and Canada on Amtrak. The company offers a 15 percent senior discount on its lowest available domestic fares and a 10 percent discount for Canadian destinations. Greyhound offers a 5 percent discount on bus rides for seniors 62 and older.
Most airlines have either phased out their senior discounts or limited them in recent years. Southwest Airlines offers a discount for people over 65, but you must call their customer service line to take advantage of it. United offers discounts for a limited number of flights, as does American and Delta.
Become a Gypsy of Sorts
To some adventurous seniors, retirement means ditching everything, hitting the road and never looking back. The path to accomplish this is far more realistic than most people think.
A late-model, 30-plus foot Class A RV can be had for less than $25,000, if you exercise due diligence. You can drive your new home to the deserts of Arizona during the winter and escape the summer heat in the mountains of Colorado. You can plan a cross-continent RV tour for all those months in between. Now all you need is the rig.
The simplest way to get an RV that is ready for full-time living and traveling is by selling your house. Use a website like Zillow or Trulia to determine your home’s current value. The potential gains could be used to purchase your mobile home. Or, if you receive periodic payments from an annuity, you may be able to sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash and put that money on an RV.
Living on the road in an RV is also much less expensive than living in a house; Wand’rly magazine estimates annual cost savings of almost $4,500.
Do a House Swap
Let’s say you have a beachfront home in Southern California, and another retired couple has a 5,000 square-foot flat near downtown Sydney, Australia. The solution here is simple: Swap homes for a month or two and save thousands on hotel accommodations.
Intervac International Home Exchange is one of many services you can sign up for to find families willing to swap homes for a short weekend getaway or even a year-long stay. There is an annual fee of $99 to use the service, but it puts you in direct contact with people all over the globe willing to offer their home in exchange for yours. This also gives you the opportunity to make new friends in a different country who will potentially arrange regular swaps with you.