Does My Health Insurance Cover International Travel?

Passport on a blue suitcase

Planning an international trip is an exciting experience. Where to go? What to do? Where to stay? However, overlooking vital questions about safety, logistics, and money, is a mistake.

One critical question you must ask – Will my health insurance cover me? Like most things in personal finance, it depends. I’ve laid out the different scenarios below for your review.

Pre-Medicare:

If you are too young for Medicare, you likely have a policy through your employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or a private insurance company. Each policy will be different, so I recommend locating your policy documents to review and your insurance company’s customer service number to investigate any questions you may have.

Emergencies:

You should be covered for medical emergencies in another country. However, you must check with your insurance company before you leave to verify. Even if you’re covered, there will most likely be differences between receiving care at home and internationally.

Check your policy for exclusions based on travel destination or activity. If you plan to go skydiving in a war-torn country, a standard health insurance policy will not cover you. Also, check for any additional exclusions that may be contained in your policy.

Your insurance provider will want to be contacted as soon as possible by you or a travel companion if there is an emergency. Often within the first 24 hours, so carry their number with you.

Expect to pay for emergency services out of pocket in a foreign country. Your insurance company will then reimburse you for all covered expenses at a later date.

If you are taking an extended international trip, check how long your coverage will last. It will not be an infinite amount of time. A quick look at my health insurance policy shows coverage for the first 90 days of travel.

If your health insurance coverage is inadequate in any area, add supplemental insurance. If you have a travel credit card, it may offer some coverage. As always, read the fine print.

You can also buy a separate travel health insurance policy. Decide whether you need a primary or a supplemental plan and for how long you will need it. Insurance can be purchased for a single trip, multiple trips, or on a continuous basis. Before buying, check for the same exclusions discussed earlier. Some policies cover pre-existing conditions, and some do not. You can decide whether this is important to you, but make sure the policy’s terms meet your needs. Also, if you’re concerned about pandemics, make sure they are covered.

If you want to compare travel insurance plans, the Point’s Guy website has a list of recommended insurance providers that is frequently updated. Shop for policies based on fit, reputation and financial strength of the policy writer, and price.

American Express Travel Insurance has a nice feature where you can customize a policy to meet your insurance needs. For example, you can obtain travel health insurance without paying for other types of coverage you may not need, such as trip cancellation or baggage protection.

Non-Emergencies

Your U.S. health insurance will most likely not cover you for non-emergencies in a foreign country. Always check your policy or call your insurance company to get the details.

Even if your health insurance does not cover an in-person visit with a doctor in a non-emergency situation, it might offer telehealth services. These services are convenient and becoming more common, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth patient consults with a doctor online

An added bonus of using remote services is you can sometimes speak with your doctor back home, who knows your medical history. A U.S. doctor can send a prescription to a foreign country such as Canada in some instances. Or your doctor can recommend a drug where a prescription is not needed.

Each country has its own rules and regulations regarding health care. In some countries, pharmacists can write prescriptions or recommend over-the-counter options. Other alternatives are clinics or a visit with a local doctor. Foreign health care costs can vary widely depending on the country, so always ask about prices before receiving treatment in a non-emergency situation.

If you have a travel insurance plan, the company will have a phone number for you to call. The company will help you receive the medical care you need and make a stressful situation better by organizing your care. It may make your life much easier if your first step is to call your travel insurance provider.

Medicare

Emergencies

Original Medicare will not cover you when traveling outside of the U.S. unless you find yourself in a few narrowly-defined situations. Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage, but this is dependent on the policy you have – check your paperwork. Some Medigap plans will cover you while traveling during your first 60 days. Be careful, though, as not all Medigap plans offer international coverage, and there is a lifetime limit of $50,000 for those that do. Expect to be reimbursed for emergency care after the fact.

If you need supplemental insurance, there are many travel health insurance options, including ones specifically targeted to seniors using Medicare. The travel insurance alternatives discussed earlier apply here as well. These policies are critical for international travelers that aren’t covered by their regular health insurance or will be traveling past their plan’s cut-off date.  

Non-Emergencies

The non-emergency information discussed previously applies to travelers on Medicare as well. Access to health care becomes even more important the older we get, so Medicare participants should take extra care to ensure there are no holes in their coverage when traveling.  

Medical Evacuation

I want to highlight the importance of medical evacuation insurance. It can be part of a travel insurance policy or can be purchased on its own. Medical evacuation insurance covers the cost of getting you to a medical facility for treatment in the case of an emergency. Some plans also cover transportation home once you are stable, which can be of significant importance when traveling internationally. Make sure the policy you choose includes the exact coverage you want.

A medical evacuation can be expensive. It can run well over $100,000, and the more remote your location, the more costly an evacuation can be.

Yellow medical helicopter

Unlike some less-important parts of travel insurance that might cover inconveniences such as lost luggage or a trip delay, medical evacuation insurance can help you avoid a catastrophic blow to your health and finances.

Medical evacuation insurance is included in some travel insurance policies. It is also a perk offered in some higher-end credit cards marketed to travelers. If neither of these options suits your needs, stand-alone medical evacuation policies are available for either a single trip or on an annual basis.

As with all types of insurance, read the fine print. Make sure you are comfortable with the limits on your medical evacuation policy. Understand the conditions for when it will kick in and who makes the decisions on where you will be transported. Policies often have exclusions on locations, activities, and pre-existing conditions, so be aware of these limitations and find a plan that will cover your unique situation.

Summary

Don’t assume your health insurance will transfer seamlessly to international travel. Fill in any gaps in your coverage through travel health insurance that meets your needs. Don’t forget medical evacuation insurance, especially if you travel to a destination with poor health care facilities or is remote. As always, check each policy you are considering carefully, ensuring you understand the benefits and exclusions that apply.


Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    Does My Health Insurance Cover Travel to Another State?

    Does My Health Insurance Cover Travel to Another State?

    There’s no better way to clear a room than to start talking about health insurance. However, it becomes a little more interesting when your health is at risk, and it’s desperately needed. This article is the first in a series that covers health insurance for travelers. I’ll explore scenarios that range from the occasional U.S. vacationer to long-term ex-pat and explain what type of insurance you’ll need in each instance.

    Vacations in the U.S.

    Pre-Medicare:

    If you are younger than 65 and have health insurance, it will most likely be through your employer, the Health Insurance Marketplace, or a private health insurance company. It’s always smart to check your policy before a vacation to verify you’re covered at your destination. I’ll try not to harp on this recommendation repeatedly, but each insurance policy is different, and you must refer to it for any questions you might have. I know reading through an insurance policy is the equivalent of chewing tinfoil, but it’s necessary. If you want to save time, call your insurance company’s customer service line and ask them any question on your mind – but if you’re paranoid like me, make sure they point you to the wording in your policy that confirms their answers.

    Emergencies:

    The good news is your health insurance policy should cover you in the case of an emergency as long as you are in the U.S. or its territories. HealthCare.gov defines an emergency as – “An illness, injury, symptom or condition so serious that a reasonable person would seek care right away to avoid severe harm.” All health care policies in the U.S. should have similar language.

    Sometimes you might get a surprise bill after receiving emergency treatment out of state.

    Surprise Bill Balance Billing

    This occurs when your insurance company is unwilling to pay the entire amount charged for the services you received. This procedure is called balance billing, and it happens approximately 20% of the time in emergencies. The good news is recent legislation has eliminated it starting in 2022.

    Supplemental travel insurance can be purchased if you are concerned about receiving an unexpected bill before the law changes. You might also be covered for accidents through your travel credit card – check your agreement.

    There are currently state laws that apply to balance billing, and you can find state-by-state information here. Your state may outlaw the practice. If your state lacks legislation and you experience balance billing, there are steps to reduce or eliminate the bill you can find here.

    Non-Emergencies:

    Your coverage area for non-emergency health care will be outlined in your insurance policy. Your service area is often limited to your state or region. These restrictions shouldn’t be a major concern to the occasional traveler worried about being covered in an emergency.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has been a miserable experience, but a silver lining is improved telehealth technology and availability. You may be able to jump on a video conference with your doctor, receive a diagnosis, and even obtain a prescription, depending on state laws. Check with your health care provider for options.

    Medicare:

    Once you turn 65, you’re eligible for Medicare. Luckily, your situation simplifies as long as you remain in the United States.  

    Emergencies:

    Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans will cover you in an emergency throughout the U.S. and its territories. However, if you’re going on a cruise, consider supplemental insurance even if you’re staying in U.S. territorial waters.

    Non-Emergencies:

    As long as you visit doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare, you are covered in the U.S. and its territories for non-emergency care when traveling. Medicare also covers telehealth services if you’d like to work with your doctor from home.

    Summary

    Before traveling, check your health insurance policy and make sure you’re covered in your destination. Any holes in coverage can be filled with a travel insurance policy or potentially with your credit card. It also makes sense to familiarize yourself with the telehealth services offered by your doctor.


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    Adios 2020 – 5 Lessons, Best Travel Photos of the Year, and a Rollercoaster on a Cruise Ship? – Links

    Path bridge snow

    It’s the end of 2020, not what I was expecting when I rang in the New Year. My way of life changed dramatically for the worst in some ways, as traveling came to a halt and I grew a terrible beard. However, financially I’ve never looked better as the stock market soared and my spending dropped drastically. (It’s amazing how good your budget can look when you don’t go anywhere.) Unchanged, was my business, which didn’t miss a beat as I can work from anywhere with little adjustment. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone, and I feel very fortunate. Lastly, and most importantly, my health and that of my family is good.

    I’d prefer 2021 to be a bit more festive. I’m looking forward to some second-half of the year travel assuming vaccines go as planned. I have some canceled vacations I’d like to bring back to life and some family members I’d like to hug. That’s enough of my rambling…

    I hope everyone has a very happy New Year! 


    Retirement

    If you’re not following me on LinkedIn, now’s your chance! I’ve put together some new content and my intentions are to post daily (if I can keep it up) about planning for retirement and travel. I’ll attempt some humor along the way to try and keep it from being stuffy and just another financial planning lecture. Here’s my profile where you can connect. 

    5 Things We Learned About Retirement Planning and Travel in 2020 – (PBF)

    The old saying goes – “No sailor learned anything in calm seas.” Given 2020 was the equivalent of a hurricane, here are the most important lessons of the year.


    Travel

    Comprehensive article on how 2021 might look in terms of travel – (NY Times)

    The article goes in-depth into international travel, spending time on a cruise ship, traveling with children, business trips, and more. It will make you think about all the possible issues that might arise. It’s much more complex than get a vaccine – jump on a plane to Europe.

    Best travel photos of 2020 – (Worlds Nomads)

    Dreaming of travel in 2021? These travel photos of 2020 will get you in the right frame of mind.

    The newest cruise ship from Carnival – (Bloomberg)

    It may be a while, but at 1.5 times the size of Carnival’s next largest ship, it will be worth the wait. My guess is the Mardi Gras will be filled and collecting premium prices from cruisers within a year or two. Honestly, how do you pass up the chance to ride a roller coaster on the top of a cruise ship?


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    A First-Hand Account of Quarantining Caribbean Island Style, 7 Ways to Find Free Money, and More! – Links

    A stone Path Bridge in Central Park covered in snow

    If you find yourself with some free time this holiday season, there’s no better way to spend it than looking for some “Sidewalk Money”. Meb Faber walks you through seven ways you might be able to find some serious coin. While not as lucrative, I’ve included an additional half dozen articles that should be worth your time. I won’t be back with more links until after Christmas, so if you’re celebrating…Merry Christmas!


    New Graduates

    7 Financial Tips for College Grads in 2020 – (PBF)

    It’s the time of year for newly-minted college graduates. If you have one in your life, they may be wondering where to begin financially. Here’s an article highlighting seven tips that will benefit all graduates.


    Retirement

    Instead of drinking a fourth glass of egg nog this holiday season, consider spending an hour or two searching for “Sidewalk Money” – (Meb Faber)

    Meb presents 7 ways to find “free money”. Most take 15 minutes or less. What have you got to lose? I’ll tell you what you’ve got to lose – nothing!

    The pandemic is another reason to expect an earlier “retirement” then planned – (Forbes)

    Putting together a comprehensive financial plan with a retirement plan of 65 sounds like a fantastic idea. But what happens when a pandemic, ageism, or health issues smack you in the face and retirement comes sooner than expected? When planning it’s always a good idea to move your expected retirement age forward a few years to account for unpleasant surprises. It also puts you in a position to accept a generous early retirement package if it comes along.

    Lessons learned from three years of retirement – (CanIRetireYet?)

    “You won’t do it in retirement if you’re not doing it now.”


    Travel

    Want to quarantine on a Caribbean island? – (CondeNastTraveler)

    Here’s how to do it in a resort on the island of Grenada, at a hotel which…refers to quarantining there as “vacationing in place.” A hotel room in paradise is a fantastic place to quarantine – until it isn’t. 

    Trips you may want to book a year in advance – (ThePointsGuy)

    Safaris, French Polynesia, a cruise to Antarctica…all vacations you should consider planning a year in advance. My guess is that bucket-list travel will be in high demand once it is safe to travel again. You might want to prepare in advance, just make sure everything is fully refundable.


    Podcasts

    Top podcasts of 2020 compiled by The Idea Farm– (Spotify)

    If you’ve got some holiday downtime and you enjoy listening to podcasts about markets, investing, and general business ideas – this is the list for you!


    Your questions about planning for retirement and travel answered. Where to go? What to do? How to plan it? How to afford it?

    You’ll not only be signed up for my newsletter, but you’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for people who love to travel is all about. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    It’s Time to Fortify Your Travel Budget, How to Reduce Your Taxes in Retirement, and Otherworldly Landscapes – Links

    A brick pathbridge over a calm stream

    I’m highlighting the fact that travel will explode in the coming years, and with it, prices are sure to follow. Prepare your travel budget now so you can enjoy a seamless transition from cocooning in your home to exploring the world. 


    Retirement

    Your Travel Budget Is About to Implode – Here’s What to Do About It – (PBF)

    How does your retirement budget look? It might not look as good as you think, given the bottled-up demand for travel that will be unleashed when the pandemic eases.

    Retirees – reduce the tax hit – (CNBC)

    The right strategy in retirement can significantly decrease the taxes you pay.


    Travel

    26 Otherworldly Landscapes to Visit – (Conde Nast Traveller)

    You might not be able to visit anytime soon, but one can dream.

    VRBO Trend Report 2021 – (VRBO)

    An informative report  – this is what families are thinking about for 2021 travel. Hint: 82% of families already have travel plans for 2021. Now that’s pent-up demand!

    Round the world in style – (Luxury Travel Advisor)

    5 continents, 28 countries, 72 destinations. This is exactly what I need to forget 2020.

    Did COVID change travel permanently? – (CNN)

    A vaccine may open up the flood gates to bucket-list travel. New technology and ways of thinking about travel may change the experience for a long time; some things will be better, others not.


    If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so below. You’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for travelers looks like. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.

     

    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    10 Amazing Retirement Locations, My Podcast Debut, and Living the Hallmark Christmas Movie Experience – Links

    Leaf covered path bridge

    My mind is definitely wandering toward travel if these links are any indication. I think it’s the knowledge that winter is upon us up north and I will be seeing way more of the inside of my home. This dread coupled with the promise of a vaccine before too long has me thinking about the next trip. What I’ve been reading:


    Retirement

    Find out where you measure up when it comes to 401k savings – (U.S. News & World Report)

    If you reach $1 million in your 401k by the time you retire, you’ll be ahead of the pack by many multiples. Start saving aggressively, and increase the amount every year. If you can meet the 401k max, you’ll be in good shape.

     

    The top 10 countries to retire in – (Business Insider)

    Have you ever dreamed about retiring overseas? It’s never too early to start scoping out potential locations.


    Investments

    I had the privilege of joining Kyle Hill, CFP®, on his podcast – Personal Finance from the Hill-Top. We talk about the basics of stocks, bonds, diversification, and more.


    Travel

    It’s going to be a long winter – embrace it! – (The Washington Post)

    “Friluftsliv…translates to open-air living and exemplifies the tradition of making time outdoors part of daily life — whatever the season.” Take it from the Norwegians, because they know how to do cold. When you get tired of the indoors this winter, make the outdoors your friend.

    19 hotels you’ll want to book just for the bathtub – (The Points Guy)

    I haven’t take a bath in 40 years. Yes, I said it! I’m solidly in the shower camp, but I could change my mind if I had these views.

    Towns to visit in Pennsylvania if you want to feel as if you’ve been dropped into a Hallmark Christmas Movie – (Travel Awaits)

    This might not be the best year for a Hallmark Christmas Movie experience, but save this link somewhere special, and when travel conditions improve, you’ll have a Christmas destination mapped out.


    If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so below. You’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for travelers looks like. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.

     

    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    How Much Do You Need to Retire (and Travel), What Makes You Happy in Retirement, and Soup – Links

    Path bridge through the woods with leaves turning colors

    Now that Halloween and Election Day have passed, is it too early to put up the Christmas tree? The old stand-by of waiting until Thanksgiving is over doesn’t seem to make sense in 2020. 

    The most common question I hear from people who reach out to my firm is – “How much do I need to retire?” I walk you through the process for do-it-yourselfers who want a quick answer. Also included below, the best of what I’ve been reading on retirement, travel, and, yes, soup. 


    Retirement

    How Much Do I Need to Retire (and Travel Like Royalty)? – (PBF)

    I walk you through a quick-and-dirty way of coming up with your number, using readily available online retirement calculators. If you’ve ever asked yourself – “How much do I need to retire?”, this is the article for you. If you enjoy traveling, I also discuss why it’s crucial to incorporate travel expenses into your budget before and after retirement.

    Over 55? Your retirement is more uncertain than ever before – (Forbes)

    It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling when you have a well-developed comprehensive financial plan. That is until your age 65 retirement suddenly, and without your consent, is forced upon you a decade early. Moral: always plan for retirement conservatively, erring on the side of an earlier than expected retirement. You may not have to retire at 55, but it’s nice to be prepared if it’s forced upon you.

    What makes you happy in retirement according to financial advisors? – (U.S. News & World Report)

    No earth-shattering surprises here, but a good reminder that it’s a mix of financial and social factors that will make you happy in retirement. If you ignore either side, your happiness will likely suffer.


    Travel

    Holiday Travel Report – (ThePointsGuy)

    Are you traveling for the holidays? Mix a little Mad Max with ER. Ok, it’s probably not going to be that bad, but I have to imagine stress will be elevated even more than usual, and everyone will be concerned about health.

    Financial Independence / Abbreviated Retirement – (New York Pilot)

    Think mini-retirement coupled with life-changing adventure. I believe we’re going to see a huge spike in this once the coronavirus is under control. We are all learning the valuable lesson of not waiting to do things you love. Do it now; you might not have a second chance.


    Soup

    26 soup ideas for the upcoming winter from around the world – (MSN)

    It’s that time of year! Are you ready to get your soup on! If you’re looking for ideas, here are 26 recipes to keep you warm.


    If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so below. You’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for travelers looks like. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    How Much Do I Need to Retire (and Travel Like Royalty)?

    A white castle rises out of the forest, clouds in a blue sky

    A Simple Retirement Calculator

    One of the most common questions in planning for retirement is: “How Much Do I Need to Retire?” And since I specialize in working with travelers, travel always comes up. The question may be, how do I travel like royalty, a rock star, or just, well?

    The answer is incredibly simple: “It depends.”

    You can start with a quick-and-dirty analysis that won’t take you more than fifteen minutes. NerdWallet.com has a solid, basic retirement calculator here, but the following concepts will work with any calculator you use.

    The initial inputs are straightforward: age, income, current savings, and the amount you save every month. The retirement calculator then illustrates how much you will have at retirement compared to how much you will need to retire. Simple, and not a bad start, but there are ways to refine your results further.

    On the NerdWallet calculator, click “Optional.” Additional inputs appear.

    The first input, “Monthly retirement spending,” is automatically set to use 70% of your pre-retirement income. A common rule-of-thumb is you’ll spend approximately 70-80% of your pre-retirement income once you retire. However, I have found this number can be low, especially when working with clients who expect to travel extensively. Consider bumping this number up to 90-100% if you’re doing a quick calculation. If you’d like to refine this number, put together a detailed budget for retirement, keeping in mind the significant changes that can occur when you tackle your bucket list and medical expenses grow.

    The next input is “Other expected income.” This includes Social Security, pensions, annuities, and other income sources you may have in retirement.

    The default age of retirement is set to 67. Change this to your desired retirement age. Also, have some fun with it. Increase your age, lower it, and see how it affects the numbers. Your final number should be conservative, perhaps a few years before you’d like to retire. This will build in some extra cushion to your projections. Many people retire earlier than they expected due to layoffs, early retirement packages, or health issues.

    Life expectancy is automatically set to 95, a reasonable number. However, maybe you have a family where everyone sails past 100 in excellent health. You can always make adjustments, and the bigger the number, the more conservative your estimates will be.

    The “Investment rate of return” default is 6% pre-retirement and 5% after retirement. These rates of return assume your portfolio will become more conservative post-retirement. These are reasonable estimates, but you can adjust the pre-retirement return, either up or down, to see how your results change. Just be realistic and don’t stray too far to the upside.

    How does it look? Are you on track? If you are, fantastic!

    You’re not quite done, however. Play with the numbers and create some worst-case scenarios. What happens if you have to spend dramatically more than you anticipated? How do you look if your investment returns are lower than expected? If you are still on track to retire, try nudging down your retirement age. You may not want to retire early, but it’s nice to know the option exists.

    More Detail

    The quick-and-dirty option above is acceptable for some. However, if your life is a little more complicated or you want to get more granular, consider the information below.

    Expenses

    Let’s refine the “Monthly retirement spending” part of this model.

    Put together a detailed list of your expenditures. There are hundreds of budget spreadsheets online. Find one that does a good job of breaking out spending into categories that will help you organize your expenses. If you’d like the spreadsheet that I use with my clients, please send me an email at david@pathbridgefinancial.com. Double-check your spreadsheet with bank statements. Does the spreadsheet expense total equal what is coming out of your bank accounts? If not, figure out why and adjust.

    Next, focus on retirement. Make a copy of your spreadsheet and start reducing or eliminating expenses that might change once you’re retired. What commuting expenses will go away? Will you continue to need a second car? Will your mortgage be paid off? Do you have life insurance policies that you will no longer need?

    Unfortunately, not all expenses will decrease. Health care costs will grow as you age. Projections vary greatly, but a 65-year-old couple should expect to spend approximately $11,000 a year on health care in retirement. Fidelity Investments has a health care cost calculator that will take you about three minutes to fill out.

    Now, the good stuff. In retirement, travel and leisure often increases in frequency and duration. Dream vacations to exotic locations, the purchase of an RV or boat, a summer in Tuscany, the lake-cabin you’ve always dreamed about – let your mind wander. How much would you like to spend on travel? Go into as much detail as possible.

    How you like to travel will affect your travel budget. Do you prefer 5-star luxury resorts on the other side of the world and dining at Michelin-star restaurants?

    A chef uses tweezers to complete a fine dining meal

    Or do you find most of your vacations are within driving distance of your home where you stay with friends, and you pride yourself on scouring farmers’ markets to prepare home-cooked meals? Odds are you’re somewhere in the middle, but dive into your travel deeply and try to put together a realistic travel budget.

    It’s easy to get caught up in dreaming about once-in-a-lifetime trips, but there’s something that most people find even more important – family. You’re likely to have much more leisure time in retirement, which usually results in more family time. How many trips are you going to take to visit your loved ones? Grandchildren especially can be an irresistible draw. Don’t forget to add these trips to your retirement travel budget.

    Don’t hold back when estimating expenses. We’re talking about traveling like royalty here! Err on the high side, and don’t be afraid to include some extravagant extras. It’s better to reach, and save some extra money, then underestimate and not have enough. You can always reduce some expenses or eliminate some of those extras when the time comes. A key concept when planning for travel in retirement – be flexible.

    Income

    If you’re going to adjust the “Other expected income” amount in the calculator, keep in mind that this will increase income every year between retirement and death – a limitation of this model.

    In reality, there are ways to increase income for a portion of retirement, including part-time employment or renting out a home, but these are unlikely to last your entire lifetime. There are also one-time income sources that might make a huge difference, such as selling a house or an inheritance. If you are running into too many one-offs, consider consulting a financial advisor who has software that can accommodate any non-standard inputs. I discuss this later in the article.

    The Answer

    By now, you should have a reasonable answer to your question: “How Much Do I Need to Retire (and Travel Like Royalty)?”

    You should have a good idea of how much you need and how your current situation looks in comparison. Are you coming up short? The best way to address this is to save more if you can. Even a few hundred dollars each month can be meaningful if you adjust course early.

    If saving more is impossible, nudge your retirement age higher. Working an extra year or two might be the solution to your shortfall. Spending less in retirement will stretch your nest egg as well. Remember, being flexible is key.

    However, don’t be tempted to increase the investment rate of return just to meet your retirement goals. It’s conservative for a reason, and you should keep it that way. A balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds isn’t going to return 15% a year over the long-run, just because the calculator allows the input.

    retirement travel illustrated by a tablet and statements

    If you’re unsure of what rate of return to use, Vanguard has a website that illustrates the average investment return for stock/bond portfolios over 90+ years. There are no guarantees that the future will deliver the same results, but it’s an excellent place to start. Remember, it makes sense to be conservative.

    You May Need a Financial Advisor

    There are many reasons you may decide to contact a financial advisor. The most important reason – your question: “How Much Do I Need to Retire (and Travel Like Royalty)?” was not answered adequately using online resources. Also, consider the following:

    • Would you prefer more detail in your retirement projections?
    • Does your situation involve a level of complexity that an online calculator cannot handle?
    • Would you feel more comfortable talking through your important retirement decisions?

    If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to talk with a financial advisor. Where do you start? I recommend reading this article from the CFP Board: “Ten Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor.” Or, if you’d prefer a little humor with your advisor search, please take a look at my article: “How to Spot a Terrible Financial Advisor You Can’t Trust.”

    Now that you’re armed with what to look for in a financial advisor, I recommend the following directories:

    Find a CFP® Professional

    The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) Find an Advisor

    Summary

    The answer to the question, “How Much Do I Need to Retire (and Travel Like Royalty)?” is – it depends. It depends on your wants, needs, and resources. Whether you tackle this question with an online calculator or with a financial advisor, make sure you’re comfortable with the results and have a clear understanding of what it will take to achieve success.


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    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

     

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    A Haunted Hotel, How to Deal With an Unexpected Retirement, and 34 of the Best Travel Podcasts – Links

    The figure of death walks across a pathbridge

    The next week is going to be action-packed with Halloween and the election. Take some time this weekend, turn off the onslaught of political ads, and enjoy the first full moon in 76 years! Enjoy it while you can, because you’ll be waiting for nineteen years to see the next one. Happy Halloween!


    Retirement

    “Paying too much attention to politics can be harmful to your wealth.” – (Forbes)

    Elections can be stressful times, and the stock market has a history of volatility during times of perceived uncertainty. However, if you’re investing for the long haul, you have nothing to worry about.


    Unexpected Retirement – (Vanguard)

    Unfortunately, many people don’t work as long as they had planned – especially given today’s coronavirus-fueled layoffs. Vanguard has put together a solid list of steps to take if this happens to you.


    Early Retirement – Steps to Take – (Forbes)

    Planning is easier when it’s broken into two phases – pre and post-retirement.


    Travel

    Staying in a Haunted Hotel – The Terror and the Humor – (PBF)

    Happy Halloween! Ever stay in a haunted hotel all alone? This is my story.


    34 of the best travel podcasts – (Travel Massive)

    If you’re looking for a travel podcast, I got you covered!


    Would you fly if everyone on the plane is tested for COVID before takeoff? – (CNBC)

    A vaccine would be fantastic, but small things like rapid-results testing add up and might be just as important to getting life back to normal.


    If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so below. You’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for travelers looks like. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.

     

    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.

    The Problem with Living on Social Security Alone, Longevity and Retirement Savings Disconnect, and Missing the Airport – Links

    A wooden bridge spans a small brook with colorful trees in the background

    I know you have other things on your mind right now, but don’t forget about retirement planning. If your only income is from social security, it’s going to be a lean ride.

    Are you missing the airport? Yeah, me too. There’s something about the energy, the potential, the anticipation of the next adventure.


    Retirement

    Can you live on social security alone? – (USA Today)

    Of course, it depends. But if you do, don’t expect much extravagance in your life. How you can supplement your retirement savings.


    The retirement savings disconnect – (Barrons)

    “Americans’ optimism about their longevity comes at a time when planning for retirement has become more complex.”

    Along with this longevity comes a healthier and more active retirement. Make sure your savings keep up with this new reality.


    Travel

    A lifelong traveler takes a journey inward – (The Washington Post)

    I hope that we will be able to travel, interact with, and witness the world again shortly. When we do, it will certainly seem strange. But when has travel not been strange?


    There’s a second wave of COVID-19, so be careful where you travel – (Chriselliotts.com)

    Use common sense and avoid crowds. The article contains some useful links if you’re researching a location. It’s going to be a long winter, folks.


    Missing the airport – (The Points Guy)

    I miss the buzz of an airport. I miss the mass of people in motion to see loved ones or going on vacation. I miss the anticipation of far-flung destinations. Now, if I could only get there without going through a metal detector.  


    If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so below. You’ll also get a PDF that shows you exactly what a comprehensive retirement plan for travelers looks like. Thanks for reading!

     

     
     
  • *Privacy policy: your email address is safe, and you will never receive SPAM.

     

    Financial Advisor David Tuzzolino

    David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.