5 Tips for Affordable Travel in Retirement

How to fit travel into any retirement budget.

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One of the biggest advantages of reaching retirement is finally having the time and freedom to travel. But with the economy still struggling, many seniors are not able to travel as much as they had hoped. Here are some tips for keeping costs down in your retirement travels.

[See 7 Costs to Eliminate Before You Retire.]

Travel like an old pro: slow. As a retiree, you will likely have plenty of time to plan your travel. Take your time planning your trips and book well in advance. Travel when the crowds (and prices) are low and take advantage of off-season discounts. If you are flexible about the dates of your trip you can pick out days that are cheaper to fly on. And when you do arrive, take your time. Transportation and lodging are going to be your biggest expenses. The less traveling you do on-site, the less you'll spend. For example, instead of two months in all of Europe, hoping from country to country, consider two months in South France. This way, you'll avoid the high costs of inter-continental transportation. You will also save on lodging costs because you can book long-term stays or perhaps rent an apartment instead of a hotel. Consider doing a mini-retirement and spending 6 months to a few years at one location. Read any of Kathleen Peddicord's blogs for inspiration.

Shop around for discounts and deals. It's common sense to look for a deal. But as a senior, you have plenty of extras to take advantage of. Be sure to ask about any discounts that may be available, but not publicized. And then make sure you check those discounts against other publicized deals to ensure they are really the lowest. To stay in tune with the latest travel deals from your preferred airlines and hotels, get connected with their online social networking profiles. For example, if you fly American Airlines, follow their tweets for notice of special deals that might be available. To help reduce the cost of airfare, explore options to help you earn free airline miles, like using your airline miles credit card for daily purchases. The key is to leverage the free time that you have to find the best deals.

[See 3 Ways to Get Free Money for Retirement.]

Consider taking a full-time job with travel options. Another way to save is to stay employed. Hook up with an employer in your field that may need your services (either on a full-time or consulting basis) around the U.S. or internationally. Travel on the company dime and explore new places on nights and weekends.

Take a work vacation. If full-time work isn't your thing anymore, consider a temporary job using a service like helpx.net. Here you can exchange your work at an international farm, ranch, or bed and breakfast for free food and a place to stay. Typical stays with this service are about 4 days. Using this service in combination with a leisurely stay could make for quite an adventurous trip.

[Bookmark the U.S. News Retirement site for more planning ideas and advice.]

Trade houses with a total stranger. Avoid the cost of lodging all together by trading houses with someone at your destination. This happens everyday and is facilitated by sites like homeexchange.com. You might end up with a really nice place to stay for free.

Phil Taylor is the author of the popular 52 Ways to Make Extra Money. Find out how to save more money and get the latest news on the best online savings accounts and the best online stock brokers at his blog, PT Money: Personal Finance.