11 Senior Travel Discounts You Need to Know About
The senior travel market is huge, and many over 55 have money to spend -- so companies catering to adventurous seniors charge an arm and a leg for tours. Do a little research, though, and it's possible to travel without letting go of a lot of cash.
AARP partners with Expedia to offer members flight and hotel deals, including 10 percent off some lodging and 25 percent off some car rentals. Trains around the world, such as the Orient Express and Trans-Siberian Express offer deals through AARP starting at 5 percent off.
Even people who are not AARP members get a break on hotels around the world when they're over 60. Choice Hotels offers up to 10 percent discounts. Marriott offers at least 15 percent discounts to those over 62. Hyatt offers up to a 50 percent discount at certain locations (but usually it's more like 10 percent).
Some airlines such as Southwest offer senior fares for travelers over 65. As with most airlines, calling is a better idea than trying to book online; it's often the only way to get such a discount. But last-minute online deals may be even better than senior fares.
Several car rental companies -- Hertz, National, Avis, and Budget offer a small discount to seniors, sometimes through AARP memberships. Check sources such as Hotwire for regular discounted rates that might be lower than the senior rate.
Seniors make up a big part of cruise clientele, and operators often offer discounts on selected sailings to travelers over 55. Sometimes room upgrades are available in lieu of a cut in price, but it depends on the sailing, time of year, and other factors. Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean discounts vary, but Norwegian Cruise Line gives $100 off, along with some other perks, to AARP members. Retired people who can just pick up and go can take advantage of the last-minute offers cruise companies offer all the time.
A $10 lifetime pass for seniors 62 or older gives half-off on camping at all national parks, as well as some paid amenities such as boating and swimming. Entrance fees are waived at national park or federal recreation sites, entitling the pass holder free vehicle entrance with up to three passengers. Parks with lodges, cabins, or yurts don't usually offer discounts on lodging, but may offer free breakfast or some other perk.
Some state parks accept the America the Beautiful pass, but seniors should look for other breaks as well on vehicle parking, often reduced or free to seniors. State parks with campgrounds usually offer discounts for camping or RV parking. Occasionally, as in Arkansas and Idaho, it's half-off during the week for residents and a smaller discount on weekends. Some states -- Colorado and Delaware, for instance -- have their own state park passes for free parking and campsite discounts. Where there are lodges or cabins for rent, seniors often get breaks on these as well.
While not strictly a discount, home swapping is always a cheaper way to travel -- the accommodations are free. Home Exchange 50 Plus, based in England, arranges even non-simultaneous exchanges, where people enjoy stays in others' homes, but not at the same time.