How to Plan Budget Travel for Seniors

With summer just around the corner, you’re probably ready to start making travel plans! From fun in the sun to picnics to visiting new cities, there are plenty of ways to fill your calendar in the summertime. 

How Seniors Can Travel on a Budget

For seniors on fixed incomes, it may feel like there’s more to do than you can really afford—but you don’t need to worry about missing out. Budget travel for seniors takes some effort, but fun, rewarding trips are certainly possible. We’re walking you through some tips and tricks to plan vacations that won’t break the bank.

1. Choose a budget-friendly destination 

Your trip’s destination makes a big difference in your budget. Obviously, a trip to Europe costs more than a trip to the next city over. But this is also true even when you’re looking at less extreme options. When you’re planning a trip on a budget, destination matters. 

Choosing a destination isn’t as simple as looking at the cost of flights. While plane tickets are certainly one factor in your overall travel budget, they aren’t the only cost to consider. 

Let’s take two examples. Mary has a National Parks pass. She plans on flying to Wyoming to visit Yellowstone, her favorite national park. But once there, she won’t need to spend on additional admission fees, and she’ll be eating packed lunches shopped from a nearby grocery store. She reserves a reasonably-priced cabin and will do minimal driving. 

Jim lives in New York City and wants to stay closer to home, so he plans to drive to Philadelphia for a getaway. He stays in a hotel, does quite a bit of driving during his trip, eats all of his meals in restaurants, and the main activity he enjoys is shopping. 

Mary may have traveled by plane, but in the end, she probably spent a lot less than Jim. So when you’re planning a trip, don’t forget to include all the expenses—not just travel. 

Some budget travel destinations for seniors include 

  • parks and nature reserves,
  • walking tours of cities,
  • cultural events like festivals or free museum days, and 
  • scenic drives. 

2. Planning budget travel for seniors 

Once you’ve chosen your destination, you can take steps to cut the costs of the actual travel. If you won’t have a car, choose a place to stay with most of what you need in walking distance. Even if you have just one restaurant or café within walking distance, you’re eliminating the need to pay for a cab or delivery fee for every meal. 

When you’re in a city with great public transportation, consider taking advantage of this service and finding a hotel nearby. You’ll save significantly by staying close to a metro station if you’re comfortable taking the train. 

If you can’t minimize driving, renting a car may make more sense. There are websites that can help you compare costs, and you may spend less per day this way than paying for a rideshare or taxi. Plus, a rental car gives you lots of freedom to explore your destination.

Senior citizens may also be eligible for discounts. So always check when booking everything from airline tickets to cruises to hotels. It never hurts to ask! 

When planning your activities, inquire about participating in group tours. These are often less expensive than private tours and allow you to see more of the city.

The perfect budget trip for you

Travel budgets are all about priorities. Do you want to spend more on transportation or the activities you plan to enjoy? Is there a certain destination you’ve been longing to get to? Can you get to your dream location cheaper by flying or driving? These are all important factors to consider when deciding where you can cut costs. 

In the end, you do have options. Watching your spending doesn’t mean you have to sit at home all summer!


image credit: shutterstock/BigPixel Photo

Pete Blasi