Normally I like most of financial guru Suze Orman’s advice but on last night’s show I think she gave bad advice to one caller. Last night a newly retired gentleman called in and wanted to know if he could afford a trip to Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and New Zealand at the cost of $25,000. Suze said, “No way!” but she should have told him to go if he could travel cheap.
This retired man had liquid savings of $20,000; investments of $20,000 and a retirement account of $260,000. Suze said he didn’t have anywhere near enough money to travel. I felt so sorry for the poor guy because I’m sure he worked like a dog to finally reach retirement and then his travel dream is busted by Suze Orman. What should this guy do? Spend the rest of his life eating canned tuna watching TV so his money lasts until he dies? Honestly, I hope he doesn’t listen to her and he finds my blog. Because if he reads some of my posts and he does a little research on other blogs, he and Suze will both discover he can take that trip for a whole lot less money and he can live his retirement dream!
Why Do People Deny Themselves the Luxury of Travel?
Lots of people think travel is an expensive luxury that should be denied or put off until all the stars are aligned and you are sitting on a big pot of gold. In fact, many people feel it is irresponsible to do otherwise. My blog title says it all…I’m going to show you how to travel more often and for less money. I say, to travel cheap is better than no travel at all!
The Myth that Travel is an Expensive, Guilty Pleasure
Suze reconfirmed the myth that travel is a financial extravagance and people should be more responsible with savings. She’s probably a workaholic and mostly goes on very expensive trips when she does take time off, so maybe she doesn’t know that great travel can be cheap. (In this case, I will cut her some slack but she should read my blog before she dashes anyone else’s dreams.)
In this particular gentleman’s case, he might not be able to get a couple of nice credit card sign up bonuses because he’s on a fixed income and he probably hasn’t traveled enough in the past to earn frequent flier miles. So, my example below is based on spending pure cash–no loyalty points or frequent flier miles. The caller did not tell Suze how long he planned to travel but estimating 30 days of travel, he could easily do the entire trip for much less than his projected $25,000 budget and considerably less if he doesn’t go to New Zealand.
$1300–Chicago to Bangkok round trip in Coach
$80–Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City one-way on Air Asia
$85–Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi one-way on Vietnam Airlines
$1000–Other airline flights, trains or buses to several other cities–not including NZ
$1350–Cost of 30 nights at $45/night in a nicer guest house or moderate hotel in most Asian cities (except Hong Kong, etc.). A clean guest house with a private bath, A/C and TV costs $15-45 per night
$900–Cost of food at $30 per day in most Asian cities at local restaurants
$450–Cost of taking a locally guided tour or going to a famous site once a day for 30 days
$500–Fun money for the trip
To add New Zealand he could fly round trip from Bangkok to Auckland for approximately $1000 and plan on spending about $125 per day in the country if he stays in guest houses and eats at cheap local restaurants.
TOTAL Trip with 10-Days in New Zealand–$7,915 (That’s A WHOLE LOT LESS than $25,000!)
(Personally, I think he should go to New Zealand but probably extend the length of his trip a little bit to get the most out of all his destinations. And note, it’s possible to trave to these countries for less than this if you are willing to rough it a bit more.)
The Myth that Exotic Foreign Travel is for Retired People with A Lot of Time
Other people think you have to wait to travel until you retire, until the kids are on their own, wait for a more flexible job, wait until your relatives die and you inherit money so you don’t have to work…wait, wait, wait. In fact, you just have to put travel in a priority position in your life, if travel really is important to you. Most employers will give you time off without pay for a couple of weeks a year if you are a valuable employee. In this case, you might have to scale back your life so you can live without those paychecks but trust me, it will be worth it. (Check out the posts–The Importance of Traveling Now and Ways to Save Money for Travel Without Sacrifice)
The Myth that Only Name-Brand Hotels are Good & Safe Places to Stay Overseas
Obviously plenty of people stay in name-brand hotels like Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Best Western, etc. The amazing thing is how many people think those are the only clean, safe and acceptable places to stay in foreign countries. Honestly, the only time I have stayed in a name-brand hotel overseas is when I was on business (company was paying the big bucks) or if I had loyalty points, otherwise, my husband and I stay at locally owned guest houses, pensions or small hotels at a fraction of the cost of a name-brand hotel. (Check out my post–Cheaper than B&Bs)
Suze, Remember…”People First, Then Money, Then Things”
The person you are is because of your experiences, and travel is a big source of experiences! I really hope the retired caller doesn’t listen to Suze and he does a little research so he realizes he can travel through much of his retirement without worry and guilt. Travel cheap and bon voyage!