My wife and I love to travel. In my years as a financial planner I’ve never ran across someone that did NOT want to travel in retirement. My first point to that is, why wait? My second point is, learn to travel on a dime.
The beauty of traveling frugally is that you can easily make it more, or less extravagant, depending on your taste. But I’ve also never had anyone say “I would not stay at the Hilton on Michigan avenue in Chicago for $40 a night”. That’s because if you can sit in the rooftop jacuzzi and look at the skyline through their windowed ceiling for $250/night, wouldn’t it look better with $210 more dollars getting wet in your swimsuit pockets? So here are my 5 tips for Traveling on a Dime.
- Don’t own, Rent! Rent your next vacation home using a rental from owner site like www.vrbo.com or www.homeaway.com. We have stayed in Rome, Venice, Hilton Head Island, Fort Lauderdale, and are headed to Kauai, Hawaii for our 10th anniversary renting from sites like these. If you are going to stay for less than a few days, you might consider getting your place on #mce_temp_url# or www.hotwire.com. The challenge with Priceline is how much should you be bid? That leads me to tip #2.
- Bid like a Champion! Use sites like www.betterbidding.com or www.biddingfortravel.com to figure out how much you should be bidding for a hotel. It can also work for renting cars. If you want to get really tricky, you can sometimes use Hotwire for figuring out what hotels you are bidding for on Priceline. But that takes a little experience.
- Research your Flight! One of the best ways I’ve found that you can figure out how you can get a cheap flight is by getting set up weekly emails for your favorite destinations. My wife is from Spain, so I know weekly how much it costs to fly to Spain. Because I track these flights weekly, I can see how the prices ebb and flow with changes in gas prices, seasons, and demand. I use www.kayak.com to compare prices. After I find a carrier that is offering the best price, I might go to their site and see if it’s less expensive to buy direct. Sometimes visiting the actual airports websites makes you aware of discount airlines that they service that you’ve never heard of, like my $270 round trip flight from Detroit to LA on Frontier Airlines.
- Plan! One of the most enjoyable things about travel is the anticipation. By planning a trip every 12 to 18 months, it gives you a time to save, research, and find the best deals.
- FREE works too! If you like free, and you are on a real budget, check out sites like www.housesittersamerica.com and www.homeexchange.com. You may have heard of Home Exhange as it was the basis for the move The Holiday with Jack Black and Cameron Diaz. You actually swap places with someone. It might even be over seas, or across the country. I have a client that did this successfully and stayed in a high rise in Miami while someone stayed here in Michigan. We both thought, why would someone leave Miami for Michigan, but they did, and it worked out okay. Some places even allow use of cars with the home.
The sky is the limit when it comes to traveling. The point is that you shouldn’t wait to travel. My brother said that the one thing he wants to do before he dies is see that big hole in the ground out west. He’s talking about the Grand Canyon. We’ve seen it. It is spectacular. The only thing stopping him from seeing it, is himself. The only thing stopping you is….