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How to make overseas travel more affordable

Retirement is a fantastic opportunity to pursue a passion for travel and see more of the world. Whether you're living on a modest pension or have a significant nest egg built up, knowing how you can save money while travelling overseas can help you enjoy even more experience and additional trips abroad each year.

How to make overseas travel more affordable
Clio Paterson
· 6 min read

As you head into retirement, you start thinking about all the ways you can spend your time and all the new opportunities you have waiting for you. Many choose to spend their extra time travelling and visiting new places. 

There are plenty of reasons to soak up new experiences like this at a time in your life when you can appreciate them. The tricky part is balancing up the practical sides of travelling abroad. Money is, of course, a significant consideration, especially if you have a reduced income on your retirement. This guide will give you a few ideas to help you manage your finances and make the most of your travel plans. 

How do people afford to travel abroad? 

Everyone knows at least one person or family who seem to be forever going on holidays. If you’ve wondered how they can afford it, here’s the reality. Most of us can find ways to travel within our budget. Admittedly, this might lead to some novel choices, and not all of them could be for you.

With that in mind, take the time first and foremost to think about what you may be willing to compromise on in a bid to travel more or visit the places you've dreamed of. Can you dial back on the accommodation, for instance, or the number of meals out?

This doesn’t mean picking things that feel off-putting. But a little bit of going out of your comfort zone can be a good thing. 

Where should I travel when retired? 

Yes, travelling to a faraway exotic island and spending a month there might sound like a tonic to most. However, it may not always be possible, especially if weighing up money and other commitments.

It quite literally is a wide world out there, though, and there are so many places to visit that will blow your mind. Not all of them are even a plane journey away. In short, if you can and would like to start travelling, you can do it! Here are some top picks to get you started:

  • Portugal – beautiful Portugal is made for more than a beach holiday. Its rugged coast, azure skies and quaint eateries make it a relaxed destination that’s ripe for discovery. Best seen on the road, plan a route along the coastline for maximum thrills in a most laidback style.  
  • Tuscany – rolling hills, a pleasant climate in the spring and summer, and wine make this a go-to destination for many. This is a trip of a lifetime type deal. Much of it is rural, picture-perfect and charming beyond measure.  
  • Eastern Australia – if a long plane trip doesn't put you off, eastern Australia will be a big tick on your travel bucket list. Home to the country's most prominent sights and famous cities, you can soak up Sydney's culture and see world-class views at the Whitsunday Islands. 
  • Thailand – it’s another trek from the UK, by my is it worth it. Exploring bustling meccas like Bangkok is one thing, but you can also hop to the serene islands or up to the north, visiting towns like Chiang Mai with their rural backdrops.    
  • The Highlands – for this, you only need to be ok with either driving or catching a train. We often overlook our prize-worthy spots, and we shouldn't. You'll need to dress warmly and get your hiking boots on, but the clean air and out of this world vistas are what dreams are made of.
  • Ireland – a mere hop across the water for most of us, Ireland can be explored top to bottom and still offer up new wonders. See where Game of Thrones was filmed, check out historic sites, and enjoy a culture trip in cities like Dublin.

Picking the right kind of holiday 

The most important advice when travelling in retirement is to be honest with yourself at the planning stage. Making the right choice based on your health, preferences, financial situation, and life commitments will enable you to narrow it down and book something you'll love.

Remember, it’s within your power to change some fundamentals, whether that’s swapping up your destination for a closer and more affordable one or downgrading the quality of your accommodation. First, think about what your ideal trip will involve. Then, work your way through the things on that list to see what you could compromise on.

Ways to travel cheaply in retirement 

If the numbers still don’t work out, there may be other ways to fund your trip. With that in mind, we’ve collated a few ideas that may help you to travel cheaply. But whatever choices you make, be sure to thoroughly research them and get an in-depth view of their benefits and risks before you go ahead. 

  • Rent out your home – user-friendly platforms like Airbnb enable people to rent out their houses. Once you're listed, you could even choose to do this to pay for every trip you make. 
  • Work during your trip – this is not a solution for young backpackers only! Many retirees find an extra strand of income to top up their bank balances. You may have a small online business, or you could teach English as a foreign language
  • Try house-sitting – House swaps are a fabulous way of cutting accommodation costs and having a truly authentic experience to boot. 
  • Book a repositioning cruise – it’s a little known fact that you can book a cheap cruise when ships are moved from one port to another. They often visit exotic locations and all for a fraction of the usual cost.
  • Look into volunteering – some organisations allow you to travel somewhere new and make a meaningful contribution at the same time. The wonderful thing is that you’ll be with a mix of people all on a shared quest too. 

Whatever choices you make, it’s wise to look into all the legalities and paperwork you’ll need to stay safe during your trip, too. Think about foreign travel advice, visas, and travel insurance, and always book with reputable companies. But most importantly, enjoy your adventures and make them your own.

Clio Paterson
Clio Paterson
Clio is a freelance lifestyle content writer and a mum of two. Based in Manchester and specialising in travel, health, beauty and fashion, Clio has written for some of the most exciting brands across the U.K. and Europe.