- 4-Minute Article
- Nov 14, 2017
Couples’ Travel: A Tale of Two Budgets
Ensure a happy trip by successfully blending travel spending.
Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger as a part of our Moving in Retirement series.
When it comes to travel, retirees spend more than any other age group.1 To make the most of that investment, it's important that spouses or travel companions are on the same page about budgets.
Overspending on leisure travel happens frequently: 68% of travelers spend more than they expect.2 Neglecting to account for things like tips, impulse purchases, and the occasional splurge often get the blame, but conflicting travel styles also may contribute.
“You should have a detailed discussion about budgets and priorities during the planning stages of the trip,” advises Sarah Schlichter, senior editor at SmarterTravel.com. “Discuss how much money you can realistically afford to spend on things like meals, hotels, and activities, and tell your travel companion what’s most important to you.”
To ensure that each partner’s priorities get attention, here are some strategies to help overcome three common travel challenges.
In choosing a locale, one prefers high-end golf resorts and the other hopes for days filled with museum tours.
Ideally, pick a place that allows each person to indulge in his or her passion. The reason: It’s easier to compromise on a day-by-day budget when both parties are happy about where they are. It’s okay to take turns following your respective interests – even if that means going separate ways for a few hours during the day and meeting up later.
Compromising on when you travel also may resolve some of these choices, so consider scheduling visits during the off-season. Prices for resorts in Arizona and the Caribbean, for example, can plummet by 50% in the summer.3, 4 Lodging in many European destinations is cheaper come fall and winter, when popular tourist sites are far less crowded.5
One partner prefers to spend on cultural pursuits, while the other prefers to splurge on gourmet meals.
If overall budgets are aligned, but priorities aren’t, take advantage of opportunities to reduce the cost of each partner’s must-do list.
For example, if plans call for a lot of sightseeing, consider purchasing a pass that covers admission to multiple venues. The biggest player in this space is CityPASS, which packages 78 top attractions in 12 cities in an easy-to-use ticket book. Savings can amount to half off the price of separate admission, but it makes sense to see if the bulk of the attractions included are things you really plan to visit.
Another stop should be the area’s tourist information center to pick up other city-wide savings passes or discount coupons for specific local attractions or performances.
Checking Groupon, LivingSocial, and other local deal websites may score bargains or two-for-one deals on everything from attractions and activities to exercise classes and spa treatments. In addition, these sites also are a great place to investigate savings on dining options.
One traveler craves luxury accommodations, while the other needs only the essentials.
When Lissa Poirot, editor of Family Traveller USA, travels, she loves “staying in high-end hotels and being pampered.” Her partner, however, “is a barebones kind of guy.”
How does this couple from Lehigh Valley, Penn., compromise? They choose “hotels that are more middle-of-the-road or boutique,” Poirot says. “When we travel together, we don't stay at five-star properties.”
One way to land a bargain is to research hotels that have recently upgraded – for example, from a three-star to a four-star – and are in the process of certifying the new rating. That way, accommodations are four-star quality at a three-star price. Find properties that are achieving a new star level by browsing the Forbes Travel Guide’s annual star award winners list.
Another way to spend wisely on lodging is to stay just outside of a city center. Aside from the lower cost, experiencing the local neighborhood vibe may enhance the trip. Just make sure that public transportation can get you to points of interest quickly and inexpensively.
Ready to plan a travel budget for two? Ask your financial professional about ways to include travel spending in your overall retirement planning picture.