We talk with a travel blogger
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For years, you dreamed of traveling after you retired. Now the time is near and you're ready to pack your bags, but you wonder how much it will cost and how you'll budget for the trips you're planning.
To help us answer that question, we contacted Donna L. Hull. Since 2008, she's traveled and blogged about it at My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer's Guide to Travel.
Q: Are there any apps or tools that can help you estimate how much a trip will cost?
Ms. Hull: For a general idea of what travel costs will be, Budget Your Trip allows you to see the average costs from international and U.S. destinations. The site is free and offers the ability to track expenses. And the Independent Traveler offers a travel calculator that can be customized for your trip. Both are excellent for anticipating travel costs.
Q: Have you found that most retirees get homesick after a while?
Ms. Hull: I think homesickness is more about personal preferences than age. Some retirees sell their belongings to travel the world indefinitely. Others appreciate a home base. I'm in the second category. After an extended trip, I enjoy returning home to familiar surroundings and community to process what I've seen on my travels.
Q: Are there steps that you need to take to make sure that routine things at home aren't disrupted?
Ms. Hull: I'm sure that most of your readers are already familiar with the advice to stop the newspaper and hold the mail. It's also important that someone comes into your home periodically to make sure that all of the mechanical systems are running properly. Another option is to hire a housesitter and/or petsitter.
And take the time to review financial obligations to make sure that they are taken care of before leaving home. It's always the annual or semi-annual bills that are often forgotten about. Having your home or medical insurance lapse because you didn't think ahead is not fun.
Q: What advice would you have for someone whose mate isn't as interested in travel as they are?
Ms. Hull: If you're mate refuses to see the world with you, find a travel companion. Seek out a compatible friend or family member to accompany you. Joining hobby clubs or civic organizations that sponsor travel is another option. And don't rule out traveling solo. Research the articles at Solo Traveler or Journeywoman for inspiration.
Q: Are there tricks that can be used to avoid tourist traps while still exploring a new city?
Ms. Hull: Venture out from the center of a city to avoid the tourist traps that are usually located there. Look for small hole-in-the-wall eateries. Ask locals for recommendations. Purchase gifts to take home at shops displaying handmade items or shop in local grocery stores. For iconic monuments and museums that define a city, arrive before the crowds, see what you came to see, and move on.
Q: What are some ways to hold down the costs of travel during retirement?
Ms. Hull: The best way to avoid costly travel during retirement is to forego expensive transportation and accommodation costs. Riding the train or driving is cheaper than flying. Booking a vacation rental costs much less than a fancy hotel room, and you'll save money by cooking some of your meals. Housesitting or house swapping are other low-cost lodging alternatives.
When it comes to cruises, look for repositioning sailings. These are usually priced two for one but do have a lot of sea days, so plan accordingly.
Q: What financial considerations are there if you're traveling outside the U.S.?
Ms. Hull: Using an ATM at your destination is the smartest way to save money when obtaining foreign currency. However, the topic is complicated, so consider these tips from Independent Traveler.
When my husband and I travel internationally, we always have a small amount of local currency for tips and taxis. Most of the time, we use a no-transaction fee credit card. We also alert credit card companies as to where and when we'll be traveling.
To keep up with currency rates, download an app like XE Currency App.
And to save money on international roaming charges, we turn off the cell phone function, choosing to communicate by email when connected to free WIFI instead.
Freelance writer, Donna L. Hull, is checking off adventures one trip at a time at My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer's Guide to Travel Since 2008, My Itchy Travel Feet has published articles and photographs focusing solely on active boomer travel: where to go, what to do and how to do it. The site also publishes a monthly newsletter.
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