Budgeting for Travel Expenses During Retirement

As our working years were coming to a close, my spouse and I looked forward to our retirement. Since we enjoyed traveling, we made sure to budget a certain amount, usually about $10,000, each year as our travel budget. When we calculated our needs for retirement: food, housing, insurance, and other living expenses, we made sure to include travel in our retirement budget planning.

Here are some things we did to make sure our retirement budget included travel:

Set financial plans and goals
Working with out budget of about $10,000 per year, we knew we could take about three big vacations per year and a few smaller weekend trips. We made arrangements before retirement to save up this additional amount and then made a list of potential vacation spots we wanted to visit.

Where to get the most for your money
We had raised our kids in the U.S. Northeast, and tired of winter weather, our decision was to relocate to a warm climate, but also a city with a lower cost-of-living. Living in a lower cost city gave us extra money to travel. We took stock of our income and resources for retirement living and travel. The money was less than half of what our income had been in our working days, so we had to spend it wisely, especially in our travel plans. After careful research we decided on Tucson, Arizona.

Local adventures
Living in Tucson put us within driving distance of a lot of fun destinations, meaning we could save money by vacationing closer to home. Tucson offers many same-day destinations, including the vast Saguaro National Forest, Phoenix, the Painted Desert, Monument Valley and Petrified Forest are all within a few hours drive.

For overnighters, we drove six hours to the Grand Canyon, Southern California as well as other trips to Las Vegas. During our first six months in Arizona, we did all of our traveling by car, and mostly within the state. We kept a careful budget, with the simple rule that we would spend only the amount of retirement money we received each month, after we paid rent and living expenses.

Extra income expanded our travel plans
When we both found part-time jobs in Tucson, the extra income improved our travel plans. With our upgraded budget, we began to see the world. We took cruises out of Los Angeles to Mexico and Hawaii. We worked for five years in Tucson, and used the extra income for more extensive traveling, including in Europe, Alaska, Russia, and other world sites.

Last-minute deals
Because we didn’t have a heavy work schedule and could travel after just a few hours’ notice, we took advantage of deeply-discounted last-minute cruises, hotel rates, and other bargains. Especially with cruises, we were routinely able to save 30 percent and more.

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