Forty-two percent of workers say that travel is their greatest retirement dream, according to a recent Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies survey.
Financial advisors aren’t travel agents, but they do have a deep understanding of what clients can afford and how travel fits into their lives. Even though advisors aren’t going to book clients on cruises, they can help them with strategies and suggestions to get the best value for their travel budgets.
Patricia F. Raskob cites the case of a high-net-worth client who, despite her wealth, couldn’t sustain spending levels of $25,000 to $50,000 a month.
One of her biggest expenses was travel, says Raskob, president of Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors in Tucson, Ariz.
“She was used to taking the kids on cruises,” Raskob says. “I don’t like to take away peoples’ joy, so we figured out, maybe you don’t do it three times a year; maybe once is enough.”
A more common approach to helping clients satisfy their travel bug in a financially sustainable way is to look for budget travel, often specifically aimed at seniors.
Clients probably know about AARP discounts, but those are just the beginning. Advisors can suggest that clients seek out group trips for older travelers, often sponsored by alumni, religious or university organizations.
Raskob particularly likes the trend of elder hostels.
“Our clients can go to Europe for $100 a day,” she says.
Travel programs aimed at seniors such as Road Scholar, formerly known as Elderhostel, offer themed trips that explore areas by interest as well as the opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers.
Many universities also open their dorms for inexpensive summer programs.
“Just because you can’t afford a thousand dollar trip, doesn’t mean you can’t stay at a university and have fun and do all the touristy stuff as well,” Raskob says.
On the other hand, Larry Ginsburg, an advisor at Cetera Advisor Networks LLC in Oakland, Calif., says that he often runs into the opposite problem: Some retired clients, who, despite having more than enough assets for any eventuality, are terrified to spend money on travel.
“It’s fear,” says Ginsburg, who adds that it can often be challenging to convince clients that it is OK to spend more money on travel.
Sometimes, he tries to argue that they may regret not taking the trip later on or point out successful travel experiences – without financial ill effects – of other clients.
Ginsburg encourages less expensive travel alternatives not because his clients have to tighten their belts but because they are more likely to balk entirely at spending larger amounts.
“You don’t have to spend large amounts on travel even if you can afford it,” he tells them. “Why don’t you spend something less?”
“You’re encouraging them to put their toe in the water and see that it’s warm and comfortable,” Ginsburg says.
And when they get back, the conversation often goes something like this, he says: “Oh, you didn’t go broke. You had a good time? Gee, let’s schedule another trip.”
Paul Hechinger is a New York-based freelance writer.
This story is part of a 30-day series on retirement planning strategies.
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