So you have finally reached retirement, all of those years of hard work and toil are behind you, now your time is your own once again. The only question is – what are you going to do to fill it?
For increasing numbers of people, retirement is becoming the time in their lives to take up travelling in a serious way. Perhaps it is something they missed out on in their youth or perhaps they are looking to rekindle an old flame. Either way, for these people, retirement means something very different to sitting in your favourite chair by the fire doing crosswords all day.
The only snag is, how do you afford all of this jet-setting? For those not fortunate enough to be retiring on a substantial nest egg, finance can be the major fly in the ointment of their travel dreams. However, travel enthusiasts are nothing if not resourceful. If you really have that yearning to roam, there are ways and means to still make the road your home.
Love loyalty schemes
A lot of people seem to have an instinctive mistrust of loyalty schemes, where you build up points on a credit, debit or store card which you can exchange in various ways when you have enough. Nothing in this life is free, and all of that.
But if you want to travel, especially if you are on a budget, they really are your friend. Many major credit card loyalty schemes have partnerships with airlines and hotel chains. That means that if you use a card regularly anyway, you could be building up credit towards free flights or accommodation as you go. Some schemes also offer flight and room upgrades just for being a member.
Look out also for airline membership clubs. For a one-time fee, you can get access to sometimes massive savings on flights. This is well worth exploring if you have a favourite destination or region of the globe, served by a particular airline you are likely to use over and over again.
Off season, off the beaten track
People who complain about the cost of travel are often those who want to travel at the busiest times of the year (i.e. the school holidays) and to the most popular destinations. And yes, in those circumstances, you will always pay a premium.
But in retirement, you are completely free of such constraints. You can choose to travel during the slowest months when prices are lowest – safe in the knowledge that the further you go, the better the weather will get. And why not look at some destinations which have not yet made it onto the tourist mainstream, which can give you a less gentrified travelling experience as well as offer better value.
Look beyond the package
Package holidays are convenient, but they are usually far from the best value ways to travel. Especially if your aim is to travel regularly, you should learn to become your own agent. The internet is your friend here. Nowadays it is just as easy to search scheduled flights for the cheapest options as it is to contact a tour operator. If you don’t mind the inconvenience, the best way to fly cheaply is to travel overnight (late evening / early morning departures). Better still, decide on a destination based on the cheapest available fares.
Read about what you can see in Zakynthos – a popular package holiday destination that you can easily visit independently
When it comes to accommodation, there are all sorts of low cost alternatives to the traditional resort hotel these days. Self-catering apartments have always represented good value, and you should never book without looking up hostel availability – the quality and price of many hostels will surprise many people. Homestays are also well worth exploring – everyone has heard of Air B’n’B these days, but for the real homestay experience, look into home exchange or even couch surfing, which can get you accommodation for free if you are prepared to return the favour some time.
No sound financial planning is complete without taking out appropriate travel insurance – if something goes wrong abroad such as a medical emergency, it could be the difference between being bankrupted or having all costs taken care of. Avanti Travel Insurance specialises in bespoke policies for the over-50s, and for people travelling with pre-existing medical conditions. For more information, please visit their website www.avantitravelinsurance.co.uk
This article was brought to you in partnership with Avanti travel Insurance