For many people, the ideal retirement is spent as a globe-hopping vagabond, jaunting to all corners of the world and experiencing every sight, sound and taste they've yearned for. When discovering that the money they spent an entire career saving isn't enough to afford their plans, that dream of world travel can sadly remain as far away as the locations they'd like to visit.
"Even if you think you've budgeted generously for trips, you might get a harsh dose of reality when you see the actual price tag," said Beth Pinsker of Reuters. "A couple that puts aside $10,000 a year for travel may only be able to pull off one major trip per year, with maybe some left over for smaller jaunts."
Retirement doesn't have to mean retiring your travel dreams. These 13 affordable vacation ideas are retiree-friendly and follow the right pace for senior citizens looking for a post-working trip without cramping their retirement savings.
Consider a Cruise
Cruises seem to be going through a bit of a resurgence, providing the perfect vehicle for retired travelers to kick back, relax and enjoy the open water with comfort, but without sacrificing the sightseeing.
While cruises conjure up images of Caribbean island locales, consider the Far East as an affordable option. According to Cameron Huddleston of Kiplinger, Shanghai, China has invested lots of money into boosting its cruise infrastructure.
"As a result, cruise lines are adding new ships and itineraries throughout Asia, including China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand," reports Huddleston.
Set sail to the Asian seas before prices get competitive.
One of two non-contiguous U.S. states, Alaska retains its pastoral beauty, and is off the beaten path for most travelers. It's touted as a favorite for Carol and David Porter, retirees and founders of travel magazine The Roaming Boomers, who recommend exploring state 49 by water.
"(Alaska) is on the bucket list of most baby boomers," said the Porters in The Huffington Post. "They will find pristine, untouched natural beauty, and cruising makes it wonderfully easy to bring along friends/family."
Finally Take That Road Trip
Road trips are nostalgic and convenient; rolling along a scenic or historic route lets you soak up the sights without constantly being on foot. There's no need for public transportation, so budgeting for a rental car, gas, and motels or inns can keep your trip cheap.
Drive Up the Pacific Coast
A visit to any one of the major cities in California is worth the trip, but nowhere gives travelers the true essence of a road trip better than the Central Coast. Traveling by car from San Francisco to Los Angeles (or the other way around) means the chance to take in a ton of Pacific scenery, from the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Calif., to the famous Hearst Castle along Highway 1.
Test your palates at a number of wineries in Paso Robles, Calif., or the Napa Valley; and don't forget Big Sur, Big Bear or Monterey, Calif., which offers both an aquarium and jazz festival that rank among the very best.
Drive Through the Great Western National Parks
It's Americana at its most pristine.
"Two weeks of rugged scenery, abundant wildlife watching and adventure for all ability levels make this Western National Parks road trip unforgettable," according to the Travel Channel.
The site quotes Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet, who suggests exploring Glacier National Park's hiking trails, glaciers and lakes; then, up the Going-to-the-Sun Road; Yellowstone National Park (and watching magnificent Old Faithful blow at the Upper Geyser Basin); and finally, Grand Teton National Park.
Reconnecting with American nature means you don't always need to hike or stay in an expensive hotel to take in the beauty.
Appreciate Major U.S. Cities
Within the continental U.S., there are a number of affordable destinations that are senior-citizen friendly. Consider visiting any one of these cities you've heard of, but have never seen in person.
Slots and tables aren't the only place to earn some bucks — save some money by visiting Sin City. It might seem counterintuitive, but it's possible.
"Las Vegas is a penny-pincher's delight, with low hotel rates, bargain meals, discount coupons and cheap transportation," reports AARP.
Even among the extravagance and glitz, find affordability both on and off the strip; the site recommends visiting the latter more often for new eateries, bars and galleries.
You don't need to travel alone or as a couple; if you're missing your grand kids and are in the mood for a getaway that involves the whole family, then a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth is in order.
A full day (or three) with the family won't leave you broke. And if a couple's visit is what you have in mind, go in the fall, when Epcot's World Showcase goes adult as the International Food and Wine Festival, with food and beverages from more than 30 countries, according to the site. It helps that Priceline ranks Orlando third on its list of most affordable destinations.
Santa Fe, N.M.
If you're looking for somewhere unique and different, pay a visit to Santa Fe, N.M. Not to mention affordable — whereas exploring domestically exotic locales like Sedona in Arizona can cost a premium, Santa Fe mixes budget-friendly travel with Southwestern charm.
The Porters cite the city's large concentration of art galleries and tasteful restaurants as particularly senior friendly, since everything is walkable, and within walking distance, from the Santa Fe town square.
Kansas City, Mo.
If you're looking for a post-retirement New Orleans without any of that city's pre-retirement crowds, parties and overall debauchery (not to mention high expense), Kansas City, Mo., is a great alternative with ample history and abundant culture.
The American experience is in full force at the National World War I Museum and the Liberty Memorial, notes AARP. You'll lose count of Kansas City's impressive fountains (over 200), and with 100 barbecue establishments (Kansas City is famous for them), and plenty of jazz and blues to go around, its a domestic gem when it comes to senior travel.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Retirement can open up a host of new hobbies and interests you didn't have time for during your working years. If the art of craft brewing is on your list, Grand Rapids, Mich., is one place you can't miss.
"Beer tourism is all the rage in Michigan's second-largest city, home to more than 25 craft breweries," reports AARP.
An underrated arts scene is also gaining more attention from visitors, like the Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids Art Museum and ArtPrize, an art competition that's one of the biggest in the world, according to AARP. On the outskirts of Grand Rapids are also a series of wineries and orchards that make this Midwestern paradise a must-see.
St. John, Virgin Islands
Not every domestic getaway happens within the 50 states. Visitors to the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands get the best of both worlds — the familiarity of America and an exotic Caribbean experience in one (without the inflated prices associated with island travel).
Retirement travel experts the Porters recommend the quiet, tropical beach-side bungalows of Caneel Bay Resort, complete with seven separate private beaches — many of which are strictly "adults only" for exclusive privacy, relaxation and serenity.
Get Out of the Country
There are a number of affordable locals outside of the U.S. If you never got the chance to see much of the world, or if there are a few more countries on your bucket list, consider these affordable international destinations.
If South America is on your vacation wish list, place Brazil at the top. Retirees on a budget will be happy to know that they can expect to see sharp discounts on hotels, due to the region's increasing tourism expectation as host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics (and last year's World Cup).
According to Huddleston, 400 local hotels are expected to be up and running by next year. Retired and residing in Florida? "Travelers flying out of Florida can also take advantage of the increased competition generated from new routes out of Miami offered by American Airlines, and new routes out of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando offered by Azul Brazilian Airlines," said Gabe Saglie of Travelzoo.
Art, music, culture, history, canals, fashion, religion — hardly any country in Europe deftly blends these together like Italy.
"In Italy there’s really no shortage of grand, majestic places to explore," said Clem Bason of Fox News.
If you've been to Venice before, or it's time to revisit, sailing along the canals will always be a wonder to behold that, as Bason said, "U.S. cities have a hard time delivering."
He notes that due to slowed economic conditions, Italian hotel prices are considerably more affordable than elsewhere in Europe. Four-star rooms can be had for two-star prices, where a night in an upscale Vatican City hotel costs approximately $76.
Home to some of the rarest and most eclectic wildlife on planet Earth — and those world-famous turtles — the Galapagos Islands never cease to present enough educational and natural wonders (on both sides of the Equator).
A more cost-effective way of visiting the islands is through groups like Road Scholar; Pinsker of Reuters cites it as a popular nonprofit group offering all-inclusive, educational tours for seniors. An average cost, according to Pinsker, is $8,000 per couple (not including airfare).
By prepaying the bulk of your trip, it will free you up from stress to enjoy the rest of your vacation without worries.
Keep reading: The Only 3 Travel Credit Cards Worth Carrying
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