How to Find Retiree Travel Perks
By Jim Miller
Dear Savvy Senior,
What types of travel discounts are available to older travelers? I just retired and am interested in learning about travel deals for people over 60.
Ready To Go
There are literally thousands of different travel-related discounts available to retirees that usually start anywhere between the ages 50 and 65. These discounts - typically ranging between 5 and 25 percent off - can add up to save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip. Here's how you can find them.
Ways to Save
The first thing to know is that most businesses don't advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for the asking, so don't be shy.
You also need to be aware that when it comes to senior travel bargains, the "senior discount," if available, may not always be the best deal. Hotels, resorts, airlines and cruise lines, for example, offer advanced bookings along with special deals and promotions from time to time that may be a lower rate than what the senior discount is. Before you book, always ask about the lowest possible rate and the best deal available.
Another way retirees with flexible schedules can save is to be flexible when you travel. Last minute travel deals can offer huge savings, as well as traveling during off-season or off-peak times, and avoiding holidays.
Club memberships can also garner you a wide variety of travel bargains. AARP, for example has dozens of travel discounts available on hotels, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages - see AARPadvantages.com. Annual AARP membership fees are $16 or less if you join for multiple years.
Or, if you don't agree with AARP, there are alternative organizations you can join like the Seniors Coalition or the American Seniors Association that offer discounts on hotels and rental cars.
Types of Discounts
Here's an abbreviated rundown of some of the different travel discounts you can expect to find.
Transportation: For airline travel, Southwest has fully refundable senior fares to passengers 65 and older, and British Airways offers AARP members $65 off economy travel and $200 off business club travel. American, United and Delta also offer senior fares in certain markets but are extremely limited.
For traveling by train, Amtrak provides a 10 percent discount to travelers 65-plus, and a 10 percent discount to passengers over age 60 on cross-border services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.
Greyhound bus lines also offers a 5 percent discount to passengers 62 and older. And most car rental companies offer 10 to 25 percent discounts to customers who belong to membership organizations like AARP or AAA.
Hotels: Many U.S. hotels offer senior discounts (at varying ages) usually ranging between 5 and 15 percent off. For example, Marriott offers a 15 percent discount to travelers 62 and older at over 4,000 locations worldwide. And Wyndham hotel group offers 60-plus guests best available rate discounts.
Restaurants: Some restaurant chains offer senior discounts, ranging from free drinks, to senior menus, to discounts off your total order. National chains that offer these deals include Burger King, Chili's, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin Donuts, Golden Corral, IHOP and Wendy's. Offers can vary by location.
Cruses: Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over.
Entertainment and Attractions: Most movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, public golf courses and even ski slopes provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. If you're 62-plus, you're also eligible for the "Senior Pass," which provides a lifetime entry to 2,000 national parks and recreation sites. You can obtain this pass in person at one of the federal recreation sites for $80, or online for $90 at Store.usgs.gov/senior-pass.
To look for other travel discounts on the go, download the Sciddy app at Sciddy.com. This app lets you search for senior discounts and can send you alerts when you're at an establishment that offers them.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.