8 Surprising Truths About Traveling in Retirement You Need to Prepare For

Plan to travel the world during your retirement? These eight issues could complicate your travel plans if you don’t deal with them early on.
Updated May 1, 2024
Fact checked
Old couple sitting in a trunk

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

If your ideal retirement is one spent globetrotting, you’re definitely not alone. Many, if not most, retirees look forward to traveling once they’re no longer working every day. 

But traveling in retirement comes with unique challenges and complications you should consider in advance — preferably long before you retire.

Keep reading to learn about eight key issues you should account for so you don’t end up wasting money on travel plans gone awry.

You still need to work travel into your budget

Proxima Studio/Adobe senior man worried about bills and savings

Let’s get the most brutally honest truth out of the way first: Traveling is expensive, which can make it more difficult than many think when they are dreaming of retirement.  

But just because travel is expensive doesn’t mean you should give up on your travel dreams. If you research costs well in advance, you can start saving for bucket-list trips before you leave the workforce. 

Picking up a side gig to make extra money for travel or taking trips closer to home can help your dollar stretch further once you retire.

Want to learn how to build wealth like the 1%? Sign up for Worthy to get ideas and advice delivered to your inbox.

Your health can quickly change your plans

Studio Romantic/Adobe female doctor listens to a health complaint from an elderly woman

Everyone hopes to be in good health for as long as possible, but it’s impossible to know exactly how healthy you’ll be at any given time as you age. As a result, you might need to be flexible with your travel dates.

You may also want to make sure you take insurance on trips when you plan in case you need to change plans at the last minute. 

You should make flexible itineraries

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe senior woman holding a glass of wine talking with her husband

When you were younger, you might have had the stamina to visit multiple museums, historic sites, and hiking trails in one day. 

It’s tempting to think you can get away with the same thing once you’re retired, but even if you’re in excellent shape, you should consider doing less. 

You can always add more activities to your schedule, but canceling activities when you’ve overextended yourself is a waste of money and you want to enjoy your travel destinations. Being more prone to decide as you go, based on how you feel, is a good strategy for retirement travel. 

You may not want to leave loved ones for very long

Cavan/Adobe grandmother reading to granddaughter child book

Your health isn’t the only factor in deciding whether or not you can travel. If you have kids or grandkids, you might end up wanting to spend more time with them than you think. 

Or you could become an essential part of a volunteer-based community group that simply can’t run without you.

Obviously, it’s possible to juggle competing responsibilities. Just remember that once you’re out of the working world, a host of commitments beyond work can still make travel trickier than you think.

Your Medicare plan doesn’t cover health care during international travel

DC Studio/Adobe doctor checking on senior patient

Basic Medicare plans don’t cover health insurance on foreign soil. To ensure you can get the care you need at a price you can afford overseas, you’ll likely need a separate health insurance policy.

Some travel insurance policies include health care coverage, or you can opt for a supplemental Medicare plan (Medigap) that covers some international health care. 

Either way, make sure to consider the extra insurance costs while budgeting for your retirement travel plans.

You won't want to skip travel insurance

photobyphotoboy/Adobe travel insurance documents

Regardless of the coverage you choose with international health care, you should invest in travel insurance. 

A policy can protect you financially if your luggage is lost, your flight is canceled, or your credit card company won’t cover certain international charges. 

Again, remember to include the cost of travel insurance as part of your travel budget to fully protect you from the unexpected. This becomes more important the more you plan on traveling.

You aren’t the only retiree planning to travel

VadimGuzhva/Adobe smiling elderly man giving gift to happy woman in airport

Many retirees share the same vision about where they want to travel after retirement. With so many other members of your demographic visiting (or moving to) the same locations, it’s easy for reservations to fill up fast.

If you have your heart set on a certain travel destination, make sure you book well in advance — at least months, but preferably years, especially to popular tourist-centric locations like Disney World. 

Typically, you’ll also get a better deal on travel the earlier you book. Cash-back rewards from travel credit cards can help you enjoy other locations in the meantime.

You should consider TSA PreCheck

OntheRun Photo/Adobe TSA Pre Check security screening area

TSA PreCheck is yet another additional cost, but it’s one you should consider budgeting for if you plan to travel frequently by plane. 

PreCheck saves you time at security so you don’t need to stress as much about missing your flight. It’s also easier for seniors to navigate since it doesn’t require you to remove things from your suitcase, take off your shoes, or even remove your coat.

The more you travel, the more handy having the TSA PreCheck checkmark on your boarding pass will be for you.

Bottom line

Fractal Pictures/Adobe cool old couple smiling talking about travel destinations

Traveling in retirement can have more challenges than you may think of when planning. But now that you know about potential problems, you’re better prepared to face them head-on. 

If you haven’t quite reached retirement age yet, make sure to keep these considerations in mind while planning your post-retirement travel. 

With a little forethought, you can prepare yourself financially to avoid foolish mistakes and enjoy traveling in retirement like you’ve always wanted to.

CloudBank 24/7 High Yield Savings Account Benefits

  • Incredible 5.24% APY1 to boost your savings
  • Powered by Raisin's intuitive savings marketplace
  • Interest is compounded daily and posted to your account monthly
  • Smart digital bank that can help you reach your goals without having to wait in lines
  • Enjoy 24/7 online access to your account and funds
  • FDIC insured through Third Coast Bank SSB, no fees, $1 minimum deposit
  • Limited Time Bonus: Earn up to $2,000 when you refer friends and family to Raisin. Visit site to learn more.

Author Details

Michelle Smith Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt