PETER DOLEZAL: Affordable travel in retirement

For many Canadians, a prime reward of being debt-free is the opportunity to explore the world

For many Canadians, a prime reward of being debt-free — with prudent saving and investing strategies — is the opportunity to explore the world. While this may seem just a dream, out of reach for many growing families years away from retirement, frequent travel can in fact be a realistic objective for many retirees.

The most important key to a comfortable retirement is the elimination of all debt — preferably well before actual retirement. Once this is achieved, fixed monthly costs are usually a small percentage of disposable income. Property taxes, strata fees, insurance, utilities, cable and phone costs don’t disappear while we travel, but other day-to-day at-home living costs do cease. If, for example, fixed costs are $1,000 monthly and our monthly living expenses are $3,000, that $3,000 contributes directly to the actual cost of a month-long trip.

Once retired, we can more easily indulge in longer vacations. This lowers our daily cost of travel. Consider this: a two-week trip to Europe, with a $1,400 air fare. The daily cost of our ticket averages $100.

Away for a month? That same airfare drops to $47 per day. Longer vacation periods also lend themselves to securing more economical long-stay accommodation.

The budget-minded retiree is able to schedule trips to avoid high-season travel with its crowds, and more importantly, higher costs. Off-season vacation-rental apartments can be secured in, for instance, Portugal’s Algarve or the south of Spain and even the French Riviera, for less than $2,000 monthly — under $70 a night.

With airfare and accommodation secured for a total daily cost of around $120 — a month away from our winter drizzle, even if other daily costs amount to a generous $80, may total no more than about $6,000. If, in staying home, $3,000 would have been spent anyway, the real out-of-pocket cost of our month away becomes only an additional $3,000 — even less if frequent-flyer points occasionally cover the airfare.

Aside from our own extensive travel experiences, this article was prompted by the recent return of our 19-year-old grandson from a seven-week tour of Europe with four of his buddies. The boys started with several nights in London, then moved on to explore 15 iconic cities on the Continent. When they returned home, each had spent less than $6,000 in total – and they did not skimp. Europe can still be travelled very economically.

However, many of us are no longer into the hostelling solutions of our grandson and his friends. But there are alternatives. The longer-stay vacation apartment can be almost as economical. We are also less likely to indulge in the all-night bar experiences favoured by the younger crowd.

Extensive travel can be a cornerstone of many retirees’ lifestyles.

Travel need not be ruled out even for those with relatively modest means. Travel is not only a pleasurable experience; it is also a means to a greatly enriched retirement, stimulating us, and keeping us feeling youthful and engaged with our fascinating world.

Looking for more tips on affordable travel?

One of my books, The Naked Traveller, focuses on this subject. This book can be found in Tanner’s Books and in other book stores.

 

A retired corporate executive, enjoying post-retirement as an independent financial consultant, Peter Dolezal is the author of three books, including his most recent – The SMART CANADIAN WEALTH-BUILDER.

 

 

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