In this third article on frugality, I would like to continue to explore ways to enjoy various components of your retirement on a frugal basis.
FRUGAL TRAVEL IDEAS
As we our now in our Third Age, that period of time after raising a family and work, we may have dreams. One of those dreams may be to get out and see the world. If you are living under budget constraints, you do not necessarily have to be tied down to your home. There are a variety of ways to travel. These days, airlines, hotels, scenic attractions, and other vendors do indeed offer incentives to attract seniors. The key here is to be able to find these deals. The most important consideration in the early stages of planning is to come up with a budget. Then you will need to decide where you’d like to go.
Be certain that you broadcast your true age whenever you get the opportunity to that you can take advantage of all senior discounts. Utilize those American Automobile Association and American Association of Retired Persons cards. Indeed, they do offer all kinds of travel discounts. Many hotel chains offer senior discount programs. Some even offer a 50 percent discount.
Take a Tour! A great way to save money is to join a tour group. Those may include alumni associations, church and retirement community travel groups, and even municipal senior or park and recreation travel groups. Remember, you are getting a group discount on everything from entrance fees to hotel rooms. In my previous books I discuss the wonders of Roadscholar. This organization offers nearly 8000 lifelong learning adventures for those of us over 55 in all states and over 50 countries. Programs are offered in conjunction with educational institutions, museums, national parks, performing arts centers and others. Most fees are all-inclusive. At the time of this writing there were a variety of programs offered for less than $600.
If you have a condo with a fantastic city skyline view, why not swap it for a vacation with someone who has a place overlooking a Caribbean beach. House swapping as been referred to as one of most pronounced ways of getting a feel for wherever you travel. Intervac International offers listings in at least 50 countries. They suggest vacation duration of between 2 and 4 weeks. The website offers a variety of listing pictures. Advantages of doing this include the elimination of hotel and maybe even car rental expenses, immersion into another culture’s lifestyle, and the security and comfort of living at home while being on holiday.
Renting another families’ home has become more popular in recent years. The main reason for this is that it is a frugal alternative. There’s that word again! Often times you can save money over hotel costs because you do not incur service charges or gratuities and you have more space. That is, you have a kitchen and a living room and perhaps even a private pool or a hot tub. And, you have the advantage of renting in a more rural location. Many vacation rentals give travelers the option of inhabiting real neighborhoods in their destination and living like the local residents.
Rental properties include homes, cottages, condominiums or town homes. There are many agencies that rent properties. One of the most reliable is Vacation Rentals by Owner. They feature 160,000 rentals in over 100 countries worldwide.
If you are interested in volunteering during retirement, think about taking a volunteer vacation, more commonly known as voluntourism. Basically, you combine traditional travel with volunteer work. In essence, you are taking a service-based vacation. You will find that there are many adventure travel companies that offer these trips. Basically, you would be deeply rewarded spending a few hours per day giving back to your favorite nonprofit organization. In consideration for doing this, you most often are provided with free food and lodging as well as plenty of time for hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, photography and making new friends. Of course another major advantage is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the people you are helping, especially if you volunteer overseas. If you are not into the activities of nature, or are not in the greatest physical condition, there are many organizations of a cultural nature, such as museums, that offer similar programs. Be sure to check out Road Scholar.
If you enjoy cultural activities, specifically the fine arts, there are a variety of frugal choices available to you. Fine arts typically include the visual arts and performing art forms such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, theater, photography, and even certain aspects of electronic media (video, digital photography, and digital printmaking). Aside from the traditional ways to enjoying these activities such as enrolling in private classes or taking a college course, there may be other alternatives.
You may be able to participate in day trips sponsored by the local senior center or parks and recreation department. My research has shown that the cost of these trips is generally quite reasonable since these organizations are non-profit. In addition, check out performances by my local colleges, universities, and theater groups. My wife and I regularly obtain senior citizen discounts. Another resourceful way to attend theatrical events is to volunteer at the production. For example, as an usher your responsibilities would include escorting patrons to their seats. Your reward is usually a free seat.
Museums are a great source of cultural activities. In addition to ongoing exhibit changes, most museums offer a calendar of events. Many offer lifelong learning seminars, lectures, and trips of a cultural nature at a reduced rate for seniors. You may also find concerts, poetry readings and other classes. Be certain to check the offering at your local museum.