Are you an empty nester? Are you retired or planning for retirement? Then I’m sure you’ve thought about the new possibilities and opportunities that await, one of which is the luxury of being able to travel.
However, if you’re like many 55-plus folks, you may be on a limited or restricted budget. This means you want to save money as you plan your journeys.
The good news is that many discounts are available to those who have reached the 50-year mark. It’s important to note that the age for senior discounts can vary, so be sure to check first. Let’s take a look at several ways you can save money and still have an enjoyable vacation.
If you’re 50 or older, you can join AARP. Annual membership in AARP, the American Association for Retired Persons, is $16. AARP offers many travel-related discounts.
If you take advantage of even one offer, the membership can pay for itself.
AARP offers discounts on car rentals, hotels/resorts, flights and vacation packages, cruises, rail passes and tours, national parks and activities and travel essentials. Plus, many places offer discounts to card-carrying AARP members.
If you’re planning on a road trip, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle is in good condition before hitting the road. At Pep Boys, you only need to be 55 to be eligible for a 10 percent discount. Many Midas locations offer the same discount as well.
Don’t feel like putting unnecessary miles on your car? Many car-rental agencies offer senior discounts.
Don’t want to drive at all? Greyhound Lines offers passengers 62 and older a 20 percent discount on unrestricted passenger fares. Greyhound also offers wheelchair-accessible coaches.
Sixty-two is also the magical number for Amtrak. Travelers age 62 and older are eligible for a 15 percent discount on the lowest available rail fare on most Amtrak trains.
If you’re traveling outside the United States, Eurail offers a discount to seniors over age 60. These discounts are only offered on certain passes and specific trains, and the rates are available only on first-class travel.
By air and by sea
Southwest Airlines allows passengers 65+ to book senior fares online. Be sure to comparison shop, as other special fares may cost less. However, senior fares are refundable. United also offers senior fares to selected travel destinations.
Several cruise lines offer discounts to the senior crowd. Carnival offers exclusive savings for those 55 and up. Royal Caribbean offers reduced senior prices only on selected sailings exclusively for guests who are 55 years and older.
At Choice Hotels, senior travelers are eligible for a 10-30 percent discount off hotel room rates when booking directly online. At Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, seniors save up to 50 percent on the Hyatt Daily Rate at participating locations in the continental United States and Canada. La Quinta Inn & Suites offers up to a 30 percent discount off standard rates for guests 55 and older. Those 62 years and older can save 15 percent or more on their room rate at Marriott-brand hotels worldwide. Guests 60 years and older enjoy special savings at participating Wyndham hotels.
Some retirement communities, such as Acts Retirement-Life Communities, provide residents the opportunity to visit any of their 22 communities while traveling or on vacation. This can result in a substantial cost savings! Stay and eat in a resort-style community that has all the comforts of home. This allows residents to easily explore the United States, and as we’ve already discussed seniors can travel at deeply discounted rates. Pennsylvania residents can visit Florida during the winter. Florida residents can travel north for some authentic Maryland crab. Carolina residents can enjoy southern Alabama hospitality, and the list goes on and on.
It pays (literally) to pick up those vacation booklets you see in tourist areas. You’ll often find discounts for seniors there.
Before you leave, or from your mobile device while traveling, visit The Senior List for an updated list of restaurants offering senior discounts.
Theme parks & more
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens offer discounted annual passes for Florida and out-of-state seniors (ages 65+). While Disney World and Universal Studios don’t offer senior discounts, you can take advantage of other offers in the Orlando area. The Orlando Science Center, Central Florida Zoo and Orlando Museum of Art are a few attractions that cater to seniors.
The National Park Service offers a lifetime senior pass for just $10. These are available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents over the age of 62. Passes can be purchased through the mail or online, but the latter tacks on a $10 processing fee. The pass also may provide a 50 percent discount on amenities fees charged for various facilities and services.
The ability and freedom to travel is one of the primary benefits of retirement or empty nesting, but are you physically ready? Individuals over 55 should prepare their travel plans by first preparing their fitness regimen. Simple exercises can help you to build stamina and muscle strength, allowing you to participate in hikes and walking tours or even just keep up with the grandkids. Here is a free list of 7 must-do exercises for seniors to help you prepare for future travels.
Remember, it can’t hurt to ask. If you’re unsure whether a business offers a senior discount, just ask. It could end up saving you a few bucks.