My partner and I are retired as well and try to travel to places in their “slow” or “off season” to save money. A lot of the times to prices of the hotels and flights are half of what it costs to visit during high seasons. This is a huge cost savings most of the time!
We always travel off-peak. If you are not tied to school, work, drs appts. why not? Benefits include lower prices, easier reservations, a lot more attention from the locals and tourist offices, no crowds, no lines. Even travelling to northern countries, except for a couple of winter months there is plenty of daylight for a full day of sightseeing. I also never use any of the on-line travel sites. I reserve on a hotel’s or airline’s website. It takes more time, but you usually get their lowest price, best options and you are subject to fewer screw-ups. Sometimes calling a hotel directly can get you the best deal or upgrade. We also go for city center hotels–fewer, if any local cab fares. Also use local public transportation. It’s part of the experience, and locals almost always help out with language, fare info etc. If you get into a real bind, it will probably be the thing you remember most about the trip.
Learn to harness the power of credit card points programs. To play this game, you must be disciplined about paying as many of your expenses as you canon cards and scrupulously paying them off in full each month. Look for groups to join and learn the ropes.