You worked a long time to be able to afford to travel in your retirement. Now your time's unlimited - but your funds aren't. Check out these tips for retirement travel on a budget, from cheap annual travel insurance to voluntourism.
Older travelers get accustomed to a certain standard for hotels and dining, but more basic accommodations may be worth a try. Meri Murphy, blogger at Retired Nomad and expert on budget retirement travel, makes a practice of staying in youth hostels for $9 to $25 per night. Most of the time, she says, she's pleasantly surprised.
When you join a group of fellow travelers, you'll get discounts on everything from museum admission to hotel rooms. Elderhostel's Road Scholar programs include several options for budget retirement travel under $600 per person. Local universities, museums and religious organizations may also offer cheap trips for senior travelers.
If you take three or more trips in a year, whether overseas or close to home, it may be smart to purchase annual travel insurance. You can save money and enjoy year-round protection with a travel insurance plan that covers emergency medical care, trip interruptions and lost luggage.
One rewarding way to manage retirement travel on a budget is to consider volunteer abroad programs. Voluntourism typically isn't free, but your living expenses may be cheap or even covered. Teach English in Nepal, help care for orphans in Vietnam, or assist with sea turtle conservation in Ecuador.
If you're traveling on a budget, you may be tempted to skip the expense of rental car insurance. But an accident in a rental car can be a catastrophic expense if you're not covered. Some annual travel insurance plans include rental car insurance; if yours doesn't, check to see if your credit card or your auto insurance carrier offers it.
If you're a snappy dancer, consider becoming a cruise ship host. Senior men can travel free in exchange for whirling female passengers around the ballroom every night. Cruise lines also need bridge directors and guest lecturers. Or you can stay free at many farms, ranches and B and Bs in exchange for helping out - check out the list of opportunities at HelpX.net.