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Traveling On A Budget | Tips for Baby Boomers

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published December 21, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Retirees love to travel. In fact, the Baby Boomer generation spends somewhere around $120 billion per year on leisure travel.1 But with nine out of 10 Americans over age 65 collecting Social Security benefits to help pay for some of their living expenses, money can be at a premium.

How can the Baby Boomer generation stretch those dollars into miles and fulfill their traveling wishes while staying within their budget?

Below are six ways older adults can cut traveling costs without sacrificing comfort.

man traveling on a budget

1. Find Travel Discounts

There are a few ways travelers can start saving even before they book.

  • Discounts from AAA and AARP. If you are a member of AAA or AARP, there are often discounts available for flights, lodging, transportation and more. Be sure to check before you book.

  • Consider the offseason. One day’s time can mean a huge difference in travel expenses but little change in experience. Resorts and hotels often have peak season and off-season rates which stop and start on one particular day. Consider traveling just prior to or just after the peak seasons and save a bundle.

  • Book all-inclusive packages. All-inclusive packages that include lodging, meals and activities are a great way to save. Do your homework and compare costs between booking an all-inclusive package and singling out each expense.

  • Volunteer. Travel opportunities that involve volunteer work, or “voluntravel,” are great ways to not only travel for cheap but also make a difference in a community.

2. Book a Cheap Flight

Flying is a major expense and can easily account for more than half the total cost of a trip. But there are a few things seniors can do to avoid those high costs.

  • Use travel booking sites. Data from 2015 shows that only 14 percent of baby boomers book their domestic travel through a third-party booking site. And those fliers could be leaving some serious savings up in the air. There are even websites such as that track mistake fares or “fat-finger discounts,” which are tickets sold at typo prices that only last until the airlines catch the error.  

  • Look for throwaway tickets. What’s a throwaway ticket? Let’s say you want to travel to a popular destination such as New Orleans. Because it’s a popular tourist spot, those tickets will likely be expensive. Instead, look for a ticket to a cheaper destination that has a layover in New Orleans. When you get to your layover, you simply “throw away” the other ticket and walk right out of the airport. Just make sure not to check any bags because they will end up in the throwaway city and not your actual destination.

  • Consider non-U.S. airlines. Changes to the Open Skies agreement between the United States and Europe have enabled a number of overseas airlines to fly in and out of U.S. cities. You can often find more affordable fares for international flights with these companies.

3. Ditch the Centralized Hotel

Lodging is often the second most expensive part of a trip, after airline tickets. But it also presents one of the biggest cost-saving opportunities.

  • Check out houses or condos. With things like complimentary breakfasts and maid services out of the equation, renting a house, condo or apartment can sometimes cost less than a hotel while offering more space and amenities. And with services like, it’s never been easier to find an affordable roof over your head.

  • Stay on the outskirts. Instead of staying in the center of town, look for lodging options just on the outskirts of town. Then calculate the cost of transportation into the center of town and back and compare the difference. You might find that it’s cheaper to stay a little further from the action, even with the added cost of transportation.

  • Hostels. There are a number of hostels that are aimed at older demographics and offer a more comfortable option for more leisurely-paced travelers.

4. Plan for Transportation   

Your transportation needs don’t end when you step off the airplane. Fortunately, neither do your opportunities to save.

  • Plan accordingly — and walk. If you plan your daily itinerary right, you may be able to bypass a lot of transportation needs by walking in between your desired stops. Work out a route that involves just a short walk in between each destination and break up the day by getting off your feet for a long lunch.

  • Rent a bike. A bicycle is a great way to get around town, particularly in many bike-friendly European cities. Find a bicycle rental or bike-sharing company, pack appropriately and enjoy the ride.

  • Use ridesharing. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have boomed in popularity due to their ease of use and more predictable costs. If you’re new to ridesharing, visit to learn everything you need to know.

5. Eat Smart

It is possible to eat affordably, even while traveling.

  • Go grocery shopping. Instead of eating out for every meal, do some light grocery shopping on the day of your arrival and pack easy-to-carry things like sandwiches, granola bars and fruits. Then just find a nice park bench and enjoy your lunch.

  • Eat local. Restaurants in tourist destinations have inflated prices. Find out where the locals eat and dine there instead. You’ll be treated not only to more affordable options but also to more authentic cuisine.

  • Hit the streets. In many foreign countries, you’ll find an abundance of street vendors offering very affordable, hearty and cultured food, allowing you to save both money and time.     

By applying some of these tips, you can save money on your travel expenses and make your dollars stretch across borders.

6. Plan for Medical Emergencies

No one plans to get hurt or sick while on vacation, but it happens. For seniors who have health insurance through Medicare, it is especially important to understand your insurance coverage before you leave town.

Original Medicare typically doesn’t cover medical costs outside of the U.S. and its territories. Purchasing a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan can help ensure you receive some peace of mind, even while traveling abroad. To learn more about Medicare Supplement Insurance, speak with a licensed agent at 1-800-995-4219.

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