Travel is one of the pleasures many people look forward to in a comfortable retirement. It is also one of the more popular ways for working families to spend discretionary income.
Love of travel attracted me to the airline industry, where I met my husband and spent most of my working life. The major perk for an airline employee is the free or discounted travel... if you can get on a plane. Being flexible and cool-headed enough to fly space available has enabled me to indulge in bucket-list travel experiences normally enjoyed only by the wealthy.
But even if you don't work for an airline and have to pay retail for your flights, you can still save money on travel. One of the most important tips is to travel light.
Limiting my baggage to what I can carry on board is critical when flying space available. We might have to opt for a co-terminal or alternate destination at the last minute, and we don't want our checked baggage ending up somewhere else.
When you travel light, you save baggage fees with the airline, tips to porters, and extra luggage storage charges. You can often maneuver onto public transportation instead of hailing a cab. You have less stuff to keep an eye on, so you are less likely to fall victim to thieves.
Fine. Travel light. But how can you do it?
- Limit the number of shoes and handbags you pack. I rarely take more than three pairs of shoes, which includes the pair I wear for travel. And I make do with one handbag, which I carry.
- Wear your bulkiest items, such as a coat, jacket, or thick sweater. It gets cold on board a long flight anyway.
- Mix and match. Don't pack anything that can't be paired with something else you're bringing to make at least two outfits. Neutral colors work best.
- Pack light-weight washable garments that don't wrinkle much. If you're going to be in one place for a few days, such as at a resort or on a cruise ship, hang everything up as soon as you arrive. Wash items like underwear and nylons in the sink.
- Leave expensive jewelry at home or in a safe-deposit box, but use a few space-efficient accessories like scarves, belts, ties, and costume necklaces to enhance and differentiate outfits.
- Leave behind bulky appliances like hair dryers (most hotels and cruise ships have them), electric curlers, and irons. If you're going to another country, you might not even be able to plug them in without an adapter.
When you're packing, set out everything you think you'll need, and then start cutting. As you review each item, ask yourself if it is really necessary.
The most important items to take with you are your travel documents, money and credit cards, and any required medication. Everything else you can buy, borrow, rent, or do without.
What financial tips do you have for travel? I would love to hear your comments.