QUESTION: What are the best travel discounts available for seniors? My husband and I are about to retire and want to travel more, but we live on a tight budget.
ANSWER: There are literally hundreds of different travel-related discounts available to older travelers that can add up to save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip. To qualify, you will need to meet the age requirement, which varies by company. Some discounts may be available when you turn 50, but most don’t come into effect until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65. Here’s an overview of the top travel discounts, plus some additional tips to help you save.
The first thing to know is that most companies don’t advertise it, but many offer senior discounts just for asking, so don’t be shy.
You should also be aware that when it comes to travel deals for seniors, the “senior discount,” if available, may not always be the best deal. Hotels, resorts, airlines and cruise lines, for example, offer advance reservations as well as special offers and promotions from time to time that may be less than the senior discount. Before booking, always ask about the lowest possible rate and the best deal available.
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Another way to save is to be flexible when traveling. Last-minute travel deals can offer huge savings, as can traveling off-season or off-peak, and avoiding vacations.
Club memberships can also net you a wide variety of great travel deals. AARP, for example, offers dozens of travel discounts on hotels, rental cars, cruises, vacation packages and more – see AARP.org/benefits-discounts. The American Automobile Association (AAA.com) is another membership club that offers great travel discounts to members of all ages.
Here are some of the best senior travel discounts available in 2022.
Airline company: British Airways is offering AARP members $65 off economy class travel and $200 off business club travel. American, Delta and United also offer senior fares for passengers 65 and over in some markets, but are extremely limited. And JetBlue offers 5% discounts for retired military and veterans enrolled in Veterans Advantage.
Train: Amtrak offers a 10% discount to travelers 65 and over and a 10% discount to passengers over 60 on transborder services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.
Rental car: Avis and Budget are offering AARP members up to 30% off at participating properties. Hertz is offering up to 20% off travelers over 50. And Thrifty and Sixt offer 5% off for 50+.
Hotels: Some hotel chains offer senior discount rates usually ranging from 10% to 15% off, but may vary by location. Some popular hotels that offer these discounts include Best Western, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, IHG Hotels, Marriott, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Red Roof, and Wyndham Hotels.
Restaurants: Many restaurant chains offer senior discounts ranging from free drinks to senior menus to discounts on your total order, but they may only be available on certain days of the week or at certain locations. Some popular options include Applebee’s, Denny’s, IHOP, Chili’s, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, and McDonald’s.
Cruises: Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines are offering discounted fares to cruise passengers 55 and older on select cruises. And Grand European Travel is offering AARP members up to $100 in savings per person on river cruises. Call before booking to inquire.
Entertainment and attractions: Most museums, zoos, aquariums, cinemas, public golf courses and even ski slopes offer a reduced rate to people over 60 or 65 years old. And for seniors 62 or older, one of the best deals available is the America the Beautiful Senior Pass ($20). for an annual seniors pass or $80 for a lifetime pass) which provides access to more than 2,000 national parks and recreation sites.
Jim Miller is editor of Savvy Senior. Send your senior questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org.