Retirement travel doesn’t have to mean package tours, luxury cruises or high dollar hotels. In fact, it’s my experience that if you live more like a local and less like a tourist, you can save a lot of money and have a much richer experience. Here are a few great ways to stretch your travel dollar that I’ve mentioned before and are worth exploring.
Live Like a Local – Sleep Here
Housing will probably be your biggest travel expense. These unique options will not only save a lot of money, but allow you to really connect with a location:
WWOOFING – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Volunteers trade farm duties for room and board. Accommodations are simple and the work can be hard at times, but if the chance to harvest grapes in Italy, learn how to make goat cheese in France, or get your hands dirty on an organic herb garden in New Zealand appeals to you, then WWOOFING is the way to go. A surprising number of people in their 50’s, 60‘s, and beyond are signing up. www.wwoofusa.org
Hosteling – If you were that backpacking twenty-something, you probably remember hostels as cheap, dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and rented sheets, a bath down the hall and a party-hardy crowd. Not a gray hair in sight. They weren’t called youth hostels for nothing. Much has changed. Today more than 15% of hostelers are over 50 and the number is growing. Now offering private rooms with baths, online booking, fresh and free linens and more, today’s hostels are catering to the mature traveler on a budget. Two things about hosteling have not changed – they are still inexpensive and a wonderful way to meet other travelers. www.hihostels.com
Workamping – For some folks, hitting the road in a motorhome is at the top of their retirement wish list. But, it’s not as cheap as you might think. When you budget for gas and campground fees, you could pay more to park you RV than you would for a moderately priced hotel room. One unique and fun way to make your RV travel more affordable is by becoming a workamper. Through online sites like Workamper (www.workamper.com) and Camp Host (www.camphost.org), travelers can find and apply for thousands of seasonal and year round jobs. Many RVers work during the summer season as camp hosts, collecting fees from campers, directing them to available sites, answering questions and watching for problems. In return they receive a free campsite and often a small stipend.
House Sitting – Short and long time house sitting opportunities are available worldwide through online sites like House Carers (www.housecarers.com) and Trusted House Sitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com). Most house sitting jobs involve some form of pet care and modest home maintenance like watering the plants and bringing in the mail. Homeowners feel secure that their home is occupied and taken care of in their absence. You get a great place to stay for free and the chance to live like a local. Win-Win.
Remember, your first gig doesn’t have to be half way around the world. Dip your toes into the shallow water before you make the plunge by starting closer to home. If “Green Acres is the place for you”, why not spend a weekend getting dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles on a local farm? If you think professional house sitting might be the way to travel, then offer your services to friends and family in the U.S. You’ll gain valuable references and get a chance to see how comfortable you really are sleeping in a strange bed and picking up Fido’s poop.
What’s your favorite way to travel on the cheap? We’d love to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Leave us a comment.
See you on the road!