10 Money-Saving Travel Tips for Seniors
Save big with these expert tips.
As we age, travel may seem more complicated. However, there are lots of pros to being a senior traveler. Not only can you save big with age-specific discounts, but your schedule is likely more flexible than it was in your younger years. Best Life consulted with a handful of travel experts, who offered travel tips for seniors who want to enjoy and explore the world without breaking the bank.
French bee airline's Head of Sales US & Pacific, Thomas Renault, recommends choosing itineraries that maximize your time within a desirable destination, for example flying redeye or going East to Europe. Choosing itineraries this way allows for a long weekend or shorter trips to save in the air, and spend more on the ground. For example, they offer an outbound flight from Miami to Paris that leaves at 9pm with arrival at ORY the following day at 11:40am. On the way home, it departs from ORY at 2:30pm for arrival at MIA at 6:45pm
Choose airlines with customizable ticketing options to tailor according to your budget and needs, Renault recommends. It might be tempting to choose more inclusive flight options, make sure you are actually going to use the services. "While seniors can book the standard all-encompassing ticket offering that includes a checked bag, save on the extra spend by booking a ticket that has no frills or extras and build from there," he recommends.
Also, consider traveling to regions beyond the most expensive cities – especially if you have already been to them. "Paris is not the only destination in France, so beat the crowds by heading to regions beyond the City of Light and opt for a home rental instead of the five-star chateau," he says. "By booking air+train tickets together, senior travelers will benefit from a discounted rate and have guarantees on travel in case of delays or cancellations."
If you are retired and have flexibility with your travel plans, consider giving your seat up on a full flight. "When they ask for volunteers, the sky's the limit on what an airline might offer you (generally a voucher and possibly a confirmed upgrade), but that will depend significantly on the timing and route," says Dave Grossman, an expert in both maximizing earning and spending miles and points. For example, if the airline can accommodate everyone they need to be bumped on a flight within a few hours, they will get volunteers at a relatively low cost (maybe a few hundred dollars worth of airline vouchers). If it's the last flight out the night before Thanksgiving and no alternate would get people out in time for Thanksgiving, the offers will be significantly higher. "So, like any negotiation, you need to figure out your leverage before volunteering. We had a member of the MilesTalk Facebook group get a voucher of over $20,000 from United a few years ago. It's very rare, but these situations do happen," he says.
Some airlines offer senior discounts on select flights. For example, if you are booking a trip through United, select "Senior 65+" as the traveler when booking your tickets. "All prices shown will include the discount if one is available," they say. Air France, British Airways, Delta, and JetBlue also offer perks and discounts for seniors.
You'd be surprised what discounts are available with AARP, says Grossman. "For example, you can use an AARP membership to get discounts on British Airways flights. You can save $65 off World Traveller (economy) and World Traveller Plus (premium economy) or $200 off Club World (business class) fares if you purchase round-trip transatlantic tickets online and are an AARP member," he explains.
You probably already know that you get lots of travel-related discounts with an AARP membership. But did you know you can maximize savings and enjoy lots of other perks by booking travel directly with them? Members get exclusive deals, seasonal offers and special savings when they book through the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia.
If you are retired and your schedule is flexible, travel during the offseason to save big. As hotel and airfare rates fluctuate with demand, you are more likely to get a better deal – and perks like free nights and hotel credits – when you travel during slower months or during the week.
When booking hotels, always double check your discount rates, says Grossman. "It may be tempting to assume that an AARP rate is the cheapest, but there may be a AAA rate or even a promotional rate that is cheaper," he says.
So many things can happen that are outside of your control, especially as you age. This is why Grossman suggests paying a little more for refundable rates and fares. "Always make sure your rate is cancelable as the savings from non-cancellable rates almost never outweigh the chance that your plans might change," he says.