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Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

Laval, Canada
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258 posts
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Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

Hi all,

Here is a general question and would like your comments and ideas.

We are a Canadian couple in our mid-fifties and we have been doing at least 2 trips abroad every years for quite a long time. It's usually similar every year and we like it: 1-2 weeks down south and 2-3 weeks out of North America (mostly Europe until now because of the maximum of 3 weeks in a row). We spend around $7-9,000 a year on those trips and we are low spender while travelling (using public transport, making some meals ourselves, using B&B's and apartments for long stay, etc ...). We also try not to visit the same place more than twice in our out of continent travel (can be the same country in a different region however!).

We are approaching our retirement and we plan to spend a lot more time travelling, months per travel perhaps! Looking at my actual travel budget and my plan to travel lot more, is there any strategies you have done or thinking about to stretch your travel $? Obviously, we will need to invest more, but can I get more bang for my buck!

For instance, purchasing a house/condo or timeshare in a popular region and use it to exchange it with other owner in different countries. Also, maybe look at long term rental (1 month or more) or motorhome type, etc ...

They are many considerations in long term travelling, health care, laws on time spent as a visitor, taxes, cost of living, etc ... but usually it comes down to financial considerations, so we need to plan it very carefully!

I look forward to your comments and ideas!

Thanks,

Ax

Bangkok, Thailand
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1. Re: Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

Being retired and doing some research you should be able to travel during the low seasons when the prices of air tickets and accommodation are lower. You can be very flexible regarding flight dates which can save you quite a bit of money. You can also save money by using flights with multiple stops if you otherwise can stand the longer travel times. (If you have just 2 weeks for a vacation the difference between 10 and 20 hour flights to the same destination is significant but you may not care while retired.)

Once you are retired you can also book cheap flights well in advance of the travel date. This incurs the risk of inconvenient schedule changes but you no longer have to be back in the office on a particular date.

Several airlines offer very cheap or free stopovers in their hub cities. This means that you are able to explore two different countries during your trip without spending more on the air tickets as long as you have the time for it.

Once retired you can seriously consider remote destinations that have a low cost of living. You can find such e.g. in South East Asia. These may not have been practical destinations while you are working due to the long travel times, correspondingly expensive air tickets and the grueling time difference. All of these will become minor inconveniences if you are able to spend months in the region..

Once you are retired low-cost airlines are a much less risky proposition. It won't be a big deal if you arrive back home very late due to a flight being cancelled and alternate seats being available only days later (think Spirit Airlines).

If time is not an issue you can amortize the cost of air tickets by visiting multiple countries in a region. E.g. South East Asia is well served by low-cost airlines but you can travel even between countries more cheaply by bus, train and ferry if your physique can take it.

Investing in a condo or timeshare and hoping to exchange with an owner in another region sounds quite risky. How can you know that you can do the exchange with someone in some place where you really want to go? If you are willing and able to spend the money it might be better to treat this as a proper investment and think in terms of the annual rental income that you can then use to fund your travels elsewhere. Your travel style also seems to be not returning to places that you have already visited so you hardly can make any use of such a property by yourselves.

My retired mother has now for several years spent every winter two months in Pattaya, Thailand, to escape the grim weather in Finland. She rents a condo and secures a booking for the next year while she is still onsite. This makes it rather simple to shop around for the accommodation for the next winter - Internet may be useful. but actually seeing the properties is even better. My mother loves it in Pattaya and never travels anywhere else, but you easily could use a condo as a base of doing shorter trips in the region.

The most radical approach would be becoming a nomad by renting out your house/apartment in Canada and using the income to fund your travels. I have no idea how feasible this would be in your case. In Finland you have to stay in the country at least 6 months per year in order to be able to access the 'free' public health care. There are a number of retirees who have acquired both a home and a summer cottage over the years, so they rent out their home and then spend the statutory minimum in Finland in their summer cottage during the relatively warm and pleasant part of the year while they travel abroad during the nasty winter.

Laval, Canada
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258 posts
11 reviews
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2. Re: Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

Thank you the_goodsoil_family for your wise recommendations and having taken time to write your thought so eloquently! You seem to be an experience traveller and concern with money manners!

We also have the obligation to stay in Canada at least 6 months a year. Some countries have a also a maximum length of stay for visitor. For example, in Europe for non European Union passport holders it is determined by the Schengen accord and is currently limited to 90 days within any 6 month period.

Sincerely,

Ax

Sheffield
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4,384 posts
143 reviews
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3. Re: Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

House exchange is worth a try - I have only used it within Europe but has been very successful. Not only does it do away with accommodation costs but it is nicer to come back to than a faceless hotel.

Within Europe we have very low cost airlines which, despite their very rigid baggage allowances and other conditions, can get you around cheaply and safely. Trains too - especially if you book ahead for specifically timed trains - can be inexpensive.

The UK and Ireland are outside the Schengen area and obviously, have a language advantage too.

Remember travel (especially health) insurance.

And have a really great time.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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13,541 posts
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4. Re: Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

Vietnam is absolutely wonderful, friendly and very affordable. Once you get over the cost of airfare, it's smooth sailing all the way. I've made 5 trips to date, and #6 is coming up in a few weeks. I've been in a few other Asian countries as well, but I keep returning to Vietnam because of the unusually wonderful people - very outgoing and generous. North Americans are very popular in this country, currently. For $30. to $45. you can get a very comfortable little hotel room - I prefer the small independent places.

My favorite VN destinations are Hanoi, Sapa and Hoi An:

http://www.travelfish.org/country/vietnam

Edited: 23 January 2014, 17:48
Laval, Canada
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258 posts
11 reviews
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5. Re: Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

After some readings I have excluded the timeshare option!

Beside the scams around it, it doesn't make sense from a money matter because you have to take into consideration: purchase price, loss of interest, residual value, management and exchange fee, etc ...

Purchasing is still feasible if it's in area we like and has potential for exchange.

Rentals are best way to go until now!

6. Re: Travel budget: how can we make more with less?

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