Explore More, Spend Less: Budget Travel Secrets for the 50 Plus of Us

50 Plus Hub Research Team


Traveling the world doesn’t have to drain your retirement savings. With some strategic planning, flexibility, and insider tips, you can see the globe on a budget after 50. Take advantage of your free time and life experience to create affordable adventures abroad.

Plan Your Budget

Determine a daily budget for accommodations, food, transportation, activities, and extras:

  • Accommodations: Opt for budget home rentals or hostels over hotels. Private rooms in hostels average $40-60/night.
  • Food: Eat street food and at cafes/food stalls to save. Grocery shop and cook yourself when possible.
  • Transportation: Use public transit and budget airlines. Walking and biking are free!
  • Activities: Focus on free sights and nature. Join free walking tours.
  • Extras: Budget $20-30/day for things like coffee, souvenirs, wifi.

Aim to keep daily costs under $100. Track expenses to stay on budget. Have a small emergency fund.

Choose Affordable Destinations

Save money by traveling to cheaper locales. Affordable spots include:

  • Southeast Asia – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia
  • Central America – Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica
  • South America – Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador
  • Eastern Europe – Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary

Research prices online using tools like Price of Travel and Numbeo. Avoid expensive cities like London or Paris.

Travel During Off-Season

Visit destinations during their low season when prices are cheaper:

  • Europe in Winter (except Christmas)
  • Caribbean in Spring and Fall
  • Beach Destinations in Summer
  • Ski Resorts in Spring and Fall
  • National Parks in Spring and Fall

Bonus: smaller crowds and better availability for accommodations and activities.

Use Points and Rewards

Take advantage of points and loyalty programs to save on:

  • Flights: Sign up for airline frequent flyer programs and use credit card points.
  • Hotels: Join free hotel loyalty programs and charge stays to earn free nights.
  • Car Rentals: Stick to one rental company and enroll in their rewards program.

Sign up for points earning travel credit cards like Chase Sapphire to maximize rewards.

Travel Light

Packing light saves on baggage fees and carrying gear:

  • Limit yourself to carry-on luggage only
  • Use packing cubes and lightweight, multi-use clothes
  • Wear bulkiest shoes and jacket while traveling
  • Leave space for souvenirs!

Shipping gifts home and doing laundry on the road further reduces luggage needs.

Slow Travel

Spend more time in fewer places to save transportation costs:

  • Take overnight buses/trains to avoid accommodation costs
  • Rent apartments for a week or more instead of hotels
  • Get to know a place better by slowing down
  • Day trips to nearby sights rather than constantly moving

Slow travel helps you live like a local.

Eat and Live Locally

Experience local culture and save money by:

  • Shopping at farmers markets and grocery stores
  • Staying in family-run guesthouses
  • Eating at food stalls and hole-in-the-wall eateries
  • Taking public transportation
  • Participating in free activities

Avoid overpriced tourist traps! Connect with locals for the real culture.

Travel in the Off-Season

Each destination has its own off-season when prices are cheaper and crowds are smaller:

  • Europe – Winter (except Christmas)
  • Caribbean – Late Spring and Fall
  • Beach Destinations – Summer
  • National Parks – Spring and Fall
  • Ski Resorts – Early Spring and Late Fall

Bonus – better availability for flights, hotels, and activities!


Use Public Transportation

Buses, trains, ferries and metros are the cheapest ways to get around. Tips:

  • Buy multi-day travel passes to save
  • Go for overnight buses/trains and skip a night’s lodging
  • Walk or bike free for short distances
  • Use rideshare apps for taxi savings

Avoid overpriced shuttles, taxis and tour packages. Enjoy sights along the way!

Join Tours Selectively

Free walking tours are a budget traveler’s best friend. Also consider:

  • Food tours – worthwhile cultural experience that includes samples
  • Day tour packages – convenient and save on individual costs
  • Group tour packages – can save on accommodations, transit

Avoid overpriced, touristy tours and attractions. Do research to find the best value.

Cook Your Own Meals

Save on food by cooking yourself. Tips:

  • Stay at rentals with kitchens
  • Shop at grocers and farmers markets
  • Cook 2-3 meals per day yourself
  • Bring a reusable water bottle
  • Make your own coffee and snacks

Bonus – eat healthier homecooked meals!

Travel at the Right Time

Timing trips to festivals and seasons can save:

  • Festival Seasons – hotel deals and fun cultural events
  • Shoulder Seasons – milder weather, lower prices
  • Last Minute – sales for underbooked tours and cruises

Avoid peak season rates and crowds. Research festivals and weather by destination.

Use Membership Discounts

Take advantage of member deals from:

  • AAA – save on hotels, transportation, attractions
  • AARP – members over 50 get special travel discounts
  • Hosteling International – save on cheap dorms and hotels
  • Student Advantage Card – students of any age get deals

Join applicable organizations to access discounts and budget perks.

Final Budget Travel Tips

Other ways to save:

  • Set travel alerts for price drops
  • Avoid currency exchange fees
  • Drink local beer and wine
  • Negotiate rates when possible
  • Take overnight buses and trains
  • Visit free museums and parks

With some flexibility and planning, you can see the world on any budget after 50! Remember to travel with important documents, medical insurance, and emergency funds.


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