After my retirement in the first quarter of 2018, I have been planning to share my travel experiences with seniors like me hoping that other senior citizens will be able to stretch their travel funds and at the same time enjoy the experience of seeing the world.
A lot of retirees who have built a sizeable nest egg upon retirement are quite reluctant in rewarding themselves for a job well done. My advice is: do not wait until it is too late to savor the fruits of your labor. Reward yourself, your spouse and your family by travelling and seeing the world while you can. Sooner or later, as old age creeps into our lives, the joy of travelling and seeing new places, people and cultures will be gone.
The joy of travelling requires a lot of preparation and planning if we would like to get our money’s worth. Let us go through the paces of travel preparation and planning.
Deciding on possible destinations will depend on your budget and interests. Due to the liberalization of air travel, “Now, everybody can fly” as one tagline of an airline goes. Airfares are so affordable today due to intense competition from different airlines that the cost of regional airfares is almost equal to that of long haul airfares. You often see unheard of roundtrip airfares from Manila to major European cities — some even as low as $500 for a roundtrip. So, first things first, decide on your dream destination based on your budget and interests.
Acquiring the necessary entry visas is also part of the travel process. For regional travel within ASEAN, no visas are required. But for other Asian countries that are popular destinations like Japan and Korea, tourist visas are required. This is also true for long haul destinations like the USA and Europe. For first time travelers, I strongly suggest the services of an experienced travel agent in order to facilitate the issuance of the required travel visas.
Should you travel economy class or business class? It would depend on your budget. For regional travel of up to five hours, economy class is good. For senior citizens travelling long haul of up to 15 hours, if you can afford it, I suggest you travel business class. As a retiree who worked so hard to build a nest egg, reward yourself by travelling with comfort and convenience. You will be surprised that again due to intense competition, business class fares have gone down significantly, especially if you fly those Middle Eastern airlines like: Qatar, Emirates, Etihad or Oman Air. Regular business class tickets to Europe normally costs around $3,500 roundtrip from Manila. Depending on how early you buy your tickets and where you buy your tickets, it is possible to score business class tickets at half of the regular price.
How to score heavily discounted air tickets
There is a way in acquiring heavily discounted economy and business class tickets. It is a combination of street smarts and luck. You need to plan way ahead of your intended travel dates. Tickets bought six to nine months ahead of the intended travel date are far cheaper than a ticket bought 15 days ahead of the travel date. Second, travel during the off season. You can get good rates if you travel during the months of January to March and October till November. These are the cold months of the year and airlines usually have light passenger loads during these months of the year.
Always buy a roundtrip ticket that arrives and departs from the same destination. A roundtrip ticket that has a different arrival and departure city will cost you more. Pay attention to your travel dates. Travelling during the weekend that starts on a Friday till Sunday will cost you more than travelling during the weekday. Be aware of travel fairs and online airline promotions. These are two venues that offer heavily discounted tickets depending on your travel dates. Lastly, do not forget to use your frequent travel points to score economy or business class tickets. These travel points expire in time and it will be a waste if you forget to use them in purchasing your airline tickets.
Which is better Airbnb or a hotel? If you are just with your wife, a boutique hotel is practical. If you are with the whole family, then, Airbnb is cost effective.
Nowadays, the availability of mobile data is more of a necessity than a luxury. Be sure that you have access to mobile data using a pocket WiFi in order to save on communication and transportation costs. Put your smart phone on flight mode and use communication apps like Viber, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Reduce local transportation costs by using Google Maps in going to your destinations. Google Maps will inform you of transportation options that will suit your budget going to your destination.
All of these apps require mobile data. Be sure that you have mobile data access when travelling. Renting a pocket WiFi is cost effective. It can accommodate up to five users.
Travel can be fun and affordable even for senior citizens. All it needs is careful planning and preparation. Travel when you can while you can. Do not be a wheelchair tourist! Fill your minds with memories that will last a lifetime.