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  • 3-Minute Article
  • |
  • Nov 17, 2017

Travel More, Spend Less

Pack up these money-saving strategies to enrich your retirement trips.

Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger as a part of our Moving in Retirement series.

Travel is a priority for many retirees, as well as those getting close to retirement, and feeling confident you've researched the options and found a great deal are leading factors in deciding to book a trip.1 Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to plan more affordable journeys. Review these five tips to help stretch the travel budget.

Transportation and lodging are big, unavoidable costs. But there are ways to lower them.

Travel in the off-season. Bargains abound for retirees, who may have more flexibility to travel off-peak. Eyeing a beach resort? Choose October or April instead of spring break. The perks will be less expensive flights and better deals on lodging. While peak and off-peak seasons are generally defined by the time of year when the most or least visitors arrive, take precautions to help protect your travel plans if the destination could experience unpredictable weather off-peak. For example, hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, so consider purchasing travel insurance that covers disruption caused by weather-related events.

Book at the right time. Expert sources like CheapAir and Kayak agree that the best time to book domestic flights is around six weeks out. Be flexible if possible. The “Explore” option on Kayak is a great way to see just how far your money will go.

Another option is to “book blind” rock-bottom hotel rates. With Hotwire and Priceline, search by picking a city and neighborhood, choosing length of stay and setting a minimum quality standard. The name of the hotel isn’t disclosed until after payment, so make sure you’re comfortable with a range of options and are familiar with the area.

Call around. Sometimes the internet leads you to the best price. Other times, it pays to pick up the phone. If you like a certain hotel but not the listed price, find the direct number to that location and ask for their best rate.

Sign up for notifications. Look into Tingo, a TripAdvisor company that tracks hotel price drops and automatically helps lock in the lower rate. For airfares and hotels, try Yapta. It monitors price changes and sends alerts when prices drop enough to make booking worthwhile.

One easy way to bring costs down is to use perks already accumulated. Only 15% of Americans have used reward points to pay for part or all of a vacation, despite sometimes going to great lengths to accumulate them.2 To make the most of these programs, consider collecting as many points as possible in a single program instead of a small number of points across a large number of providers. In addition, it often pays to look for programs that have partners or agreements that allow you to transfer points among them.

Always mention memberships and clubs (such as veteran’s groups, teacher associations, government, or AAA, for example) when booking a hotel or flight. While these discounts aren’t accepted everywhere, savings at participating travel companies may average 20% off published rates.

An adventurous spirit may lead to big savings.

Sign up for a private tour. Choosing between finding your own way around and paying for a pricey tour that may not include preferred sites is no longer necessary. Visit Vayable and enter the name of a destination to see an array of unique tours and experiences, offered by locals. Narrow the search with tags such as “shopping,” “photography,” or “adventure.”

Explore alternative options. Take a nontraditional route to save on transportation, tours, meals, and lodging. Instead of renting a car, consider a ride-share service like Lyft or Uber. The cost for each round-trip ride may be less than the cost of parking a rental car. And many drivers can offer insider tips to gain a unique perspective on the city you’re visiting.

Some changes now could mean more money in the travel fund for the next adventure. Talk to your financial professional about other ways you can build up travel savings.

Kiplinger has an in-house content studio, which reports on investing, retirement planning and wise money management for its partner organizations, providing trustworthy advice and guidance for their readers.
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