When asked what they look forward to doing in retirement, most people mention travel. While there’s nothing wrong with seeing the world in your golden years, people may not be considering the setbacks that come with travelling as a senior – physical limitations, family obligations and a general lack of the adventurous spirit that comes with travelling while you’re young.

But that’s not an open invitation for every 20, 30 and 40-something to start packing. Saving for retirement should still be a top priority. But there are things you can do so you don’t need to sacrifice that for a world-changing travel experience.

Curious how to make it all work? Read on for our tips.

Don’t Sacrifice Saving for Travel

If you do want to travel while you’re young while keeping on the straight and narrow path to retirement, you need to be able to save for retirement and travel separately. Most people know that you shouldn’t put your trip on a credit card or take out a loan, but to truly travel guilt free you need to avoid dipping into the savings well.

It may also be tempting to cut back your 401k contributions for a month or two, but it’s better to find other ways to save money on your trip. Thankfully, there are options to make this a reality.

Sites like Homeshare allow you to switch housing with someone else. You both get free accommodations while getting a more homey feel than a hotel. Some people also rent out their house on Airbnb when they travel abroad. Depending on where you live, the time of the year and what extras you offer renters, you can make about $90 a night.

Once you have an idea of how much your trip will cost and how long you have to save, you should make a list of ways to earn extra money. Can you take on some freelance projects related to your industry? Are there items in your attic you could sell in a garage sale? If you get creative, you might just be surprised with what you can earn.

Cut Other Expenses

Once you’ve determined that travel and saving for retirement are your two biggest financial priorities, it’s time to get ruthless about everything else. Look at your budget and determine what is less important to you.

Can you get rid of cable while you’re saving for London? Do you need that cleaning or grocery delivery service? Even the smallest changes can add up after just a year.

You should also call up companies that you use regularly and ask for discounts. These include your cell phone provider, internet and car insurance company. You never know who will offer you a better deal. Cutting an extra $100 a month from these services will net you $1,200 over the year – more than enough for one round trip plane ticket.

You can also make temporary changes leading up to your trip. Maybe you can cut back on luxury food ingredients, shopping for this season’s wardrobe or upgrading your home decor. And depriving yourself a little before the trip will help you savor the experience of buying things abroad even more.

Use Credit Card Rewards to Travel

One of the best ways to stay on track for retirement, while sightseeing around the world, is to use credit card rewards. Many top credit cards offer huge travel bonuses that can pay for one or more flights or hotel stays.

You typically have to spend a certain amount within 90 days to earn these big bonuses, which can be up to 50,000 points in some cases. Granted, those with families or large recurring expenses might find it easier to earn these bonuses than those living alone or with a low cost of living.

Sites like Richmond Savers and The Points Guy can show you which cards to open and how to garner the points necessary for free travel. If you own your business, you can also open business credit cards that will earn travel while you pay for your business’ necessities.

Plus, these cards often have other benefits for frequent travelers. They may have no foreign transaction fees and offer better cash back rewards for purchases made abroad. That way, you can earn more money for traveling while you’re travelling.

However, be aware that opening new cards can lower your credit score; this will really hurt if you’re in the market to buy a house, car or other large ticket purchase. In addition, opening new credit cards may also tempt some people to spend more money than they should. Remember that no matter how big the rewards are, they’re not worth racking up a hefty balance.

Living the life you want now and preparing for the life you want in 30 years takes a balanced approach. Scrimp too much and you’ll miss out on the opportunities that youth provides; spend too loosely and you may find yourself bagging groceries in your 70s.

If you proceed with caution, you could find yourself enjoying amazing travel experiences now, later – and well into retirement.

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a personal finance freelance writer. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Learnvest and DailyWorth. She writes a blog about how to be mindful with your money. Follow Zina on Twitter and ConsciousCoins.com

1 Comment


MaryEllen Miller · July 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Great advise. Too many people wait too long to enjoy the benefits of travel. Travel gets harder as we get older. I have seen too many people wait and then never go or have trouble enjoying the experience because everything is a culture shock.

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