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Stretching Your Travel Dollars During Retirement

American companies are notoriously stingy about offering their employees vacation time. While most corporations in western countries offer workers four, six, or even eight weeks off each year, many Americans are lucky to make due with two weeks a year for most of their career. As a result, we spend much of our working lives dreaming of the places we will travel to when we retire. Often, those dreams collide with the reality of a more limited travel budget than we had hoped. By leveraging their additional time, retirees can stretch their travel dollars in ways that were impossible when their travel plans were constrained by their employer's vacation policy.

How To Save Money On Post-Retirement Travel

Airlines manipulate their fare structures to earn the most revenue from business travelers and workers taking vacation. For this reason, airfares will be higher at the beginning and ends of the work week. With no incentive to make it back to work on Monday, a retired traveler can feel to take advantage of the lowest fares when they are offered for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Without having to worry about their children's school holidays, they can avoid travel to vacation destinations during peak times such as spring break and during the summer vacation period. You can also consider using credit card reward miles.

Taking The Slow Route

For workers trying to maximize their allowance of vacation time, it can make perfect sense to pay extra for a non-stop flight to their destination, or at least one with the fewest and shortest connections. Retired travelers on a budget can let go of these concerns and seek out the least expensive flights, regardless of the routing. Required stopovers can even be extended to allow you to take in additional sights en-route to your destination. You may also wish to consider other forms of transportation such as cars, buses, trains, and even boats, as surface transportation is ideal for those who have plenty of time, but a limited budget. When traveling in this manner, the journey becomes part of the experience rather than an necessary ordeal to be endured on the way to your final destination.

Other Strategies For Earning Reduced Price Travel

Those who travel frequently for business often lose sight of all of the opportunities to earn free travel through loyalty programs. Keeping track of all of the earning and redeeming options for points and miles can be too complex and time consuming to be worth the effort for many people. For a retired person, taking full advantage of these programs can make perfect sense. Spend the time time to get to know the published details of the programs that you are a member of. Next, visit forums frequented by travelers such as FlyerTalk and MilePoint where all of the best tips and tricks are shared. In fact, some of the most active members of these forums are retired travelers who make a hobby out of creatively earning and redeeming points and miles through loyalty programs in order to travel the world for free, or at very reduced prices.

Conclusions

Retired travelers have an asset more valuable than their savings, their time. By using their time to shop around for the best deals on off-peak travel, and by maximizing their participation in loyalty programs, retired travelers can do more and see more, with less money, than they ever could during their working years.

Jason D. Steele is personal finance writer and a consumer advocate. He specializes in helping people eliminate credit card debt and maximize rewards.

Photo by Frank Kovalchek via Flickr

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