Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Smarter Way to See the World
Money, the great inhibitor to traveling abroad. But if you’ve got to a stage in life where you have a little more free time to see the world, then it shouldn’t be wasted. With some careful planning, it doesn’t have to be: the key is knowing where to look and being flexible with your time. Here are some money-saving holiday tips for smart seniors who want to stretch their travel savings further this year…

How to Save

It’s now a well-known fact that the cheapest flights to any destination are often the last minute ones. When airlines are scrambling to fill those unused seats, that’s when you can save up to 70% off your ticket. The key, and this is difficult for most, is being able to leave on short notice. One way to get around this is to have multiple destinations in mind, along with a block of time you’ve put aside for traveling. That way when the time gets closer you have options to choose from, and are prepared for a trip.

If you prefer the certainty of an airline ticket beforehand, savings can still be had, depending on when you book your flight. Flying during the holidays is going to be the most expensive, but there is a benefit to that. The week before and after major holidays see a major drop-off in numbers of people traveling, therefore tickets will be cheaper as well.

Where to go

These destinations are relatively inexpensive to get to, but more importantly where a dollar gets you a lot, not a little. That leaves London and Paris off the list, but there are still many beautiful places to go.

While the Caribbean is not generally known for being a budget-friendly location, this picturesque island is the most geared up towards tourists and can be very affordable, as long as you know where to look. Generally, the cheapest holidays to Barbados tend to happen in the off-season. May is the best month to go, sandwiched between the end of peak season (December to April) and the start of hurricane season (June). Once you get here, the all-inclusive resorts are a very good value, since much of the cost of visiting Barbados is tied to the cost of food.

The East has long been a top destination for backpackers, due to how cheap it is. Take Bangkok, for instance. $50 gets you at least a 3 star hotel, with more than enough money for three decent meals and almost any attraction around. Speaking of attractions, a big draw is the Buddha park, where less than $3 gains you access. Once inside you’ll see over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues; to say that there is nothing remotely like that in America would be an understatement and it’s well worth seeing once in your lifetime. A visit to any eastern country affords a valuable glimpse into a culture and lifestyle most Westerners are unfamiliar with.

Of course, these are just a couple of suggestions for cheaper destinations. Depending on where you’re based, you might also want to check out Eastern Europe, which has opened up to tourism in recent years but remains a surprisingly good-value region to travel within, as well being home to many cultural treasures like the walled city of Dubrovnik (Croatia) and the Bridge of Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

In short, there are plenty of ways to make your golden years ones of discovery, so start planning and you can soon start saving…

Images by David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott, and Arian Zwegers, used under Creative Comms license

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