Hotel Chains that Have Senior Travel Discounts up to 50%…
Starwood Hotels (Sheraton, Four Points, W Hotels, Westin Hotels, and Resorts):
Starwood was purchased by Marriot International and is now covered by the Marriot Bonvoy program.
At more than 2000 Marriott Hotels in the United States, senior travelers (62 and older) save at least 15 percent off normal rates. This includes Marriott’s Fairfield Inns and Courtyards by Marriott (two subsidiary chains), and Marriott’s Residence Inns. Phone Marriott itself at 888-236-2427, Website: marriott.com.
AARP members receive 15 percent off at participating Days Inns, and all Days Inns offer 10 percent off to senior travelers over 60 with proof of age. Reservations: 800-329-7466. Visit www.wyndhamhotels.com/days-inn for more information and online reservations.
Twenty percent off for AARP members, at all the nation’s Hojo’s. Phone toll-free 800-IGOHOJO. Website: www.wyndhamhotels.com/hojo
AARP members get 20 percent off normal rates. Phone toll-free 800-2-RAMADA. Website: ramada.com/.
Begun in September of 1997, the “Senior Travel Breaks” program allows persons 50 or older to stay at any Radisson Hotel Worldwide (there are 427 in 300 countries) at a discount of 15-40 percent off the regular rate. For more information, call 800-333-3333. Website: radisson.com.
Choice Hotels (Clarion Hotels, Quality Inns, Sleep Inns, Friendship Inns, Rodeway Inns, and Econo Lodges):
offer 20-30 percent discounts to senior travelers over the age of 60, and 10% for people 50+. AARP members get 15 percent off. Reservations must be made through the chains toll-free number (800-4-CHOICE), so check first with the local hotels to make sure the “discounted” price you’re getting from the nationwide reservations center beats any local discounts (sometimes it won’t). Website: choicehotels.com.
B&B Bargains for Seniors
Consider a bed-and-breakfast club paying only $10 to $20 a night, breakfast included, to stay in the homes of travelers like you. In return, you offer your spare room to others. Members of the Evergreen Club (800.962.2392) must be 50-plus.
Here’s the story of how Carolyn went to Costa Rica for both dental implants and a facelift and came back with a new look and outlook. All for far less than US prices.
The Best Deals in Airfares
Remember: You can find especially good deals on Saturday mornings!
Covers fares on some 300 airlines, saves you time by letting you adjust your search parameters. We recommend starting your search with Kayak.com, maybe the best place to find the best fare ever
New, as of Sept. 2007, Kayak has a weekend get-away feature allowing you to price air tickets for the next five weekends or all weekends of a particular month for comparison. From Thursday through Monday if you wish.
It helps you plan complicated multi-leg itineraries without the hassle and expense of one-off tickets.
Decide where you want to fly and how much you want to spend and FareCompare’s over 500 airlines.
WE RECOMMEND FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAT YOU DO NOT USE THIS SERVICE! IF YOU EVER HAVE PROBLEMS, AN AIRLINE INITIATED FLIGHT SCHEDULE CHANGE OR WHATEVER, AS FAR AS WE KNOW RIGHT NOW (JAN. 2008) YOU WILL HAVE A DEVIL OF A TIME GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK.
It also allows alternative date viewing once initial results are found.
Preferred by some to those above. Also, as of June 2006, members of AARP are advised to try https://www.travelocity.com
Enter your departure city to search for low fares, or ask to be notified via e-mail whenever deals arise. Airfarewatchdog includes several discounts and obscure airlines in its listings.
Learn about special travel sales here. Free weekly newsletter available.
You pick destination and departure city — not dates — they give you a list of fares offered by carriers, consolidators, and travel agencies.
Provides cheap air tickets to all the tourist destinations of the world.
Best used against a very high fare or last-minute trip. Check tips at Better Bidding which reveal exactly what Priceline buyers are paying.
CheapAir also checks America West and Spirit Airlines (in fact, every domestic carrier except JetBlue and Southwest), which Travelocity, among others, doesn’t. CheapAir’s priority phone is 1-800.849.3182.
Air Gorilla, Cheapflights, Cheaptickets, and OneTravel are consolidators that often have the lowest of all airfares. They often come with restrictions including no upgrades and hefty fees for ticket changes. Book early.
Attitude Travel allows you to search for discount carrier routes and prices by region.
“Tips on Buying Air Tickets Online” 1/11/06
In general, fly on Tuesdays and
Wednesdays for the lowest fares.
FlightArrivals comes in handy for those picking you up, providing the latest arrival and departure times of all US and Canadian flights. If you’re driving, Mapquest is a great tool. It provides the way, the mileage, everything you need to get from here to there.
Great Travel Sites for Senior Travelers
For a top guide to scenic routes and historical paths, go to RoadTripUSA.
Plan your trip using the online travel guide. Get recommendations on attractions, restaurants, and hotels together with general information on thousands of destinations. Search for hotels using the quick search facility or by world region or city destination.
Hotels.com is a good booking site for finding discount hotel rates around the world. LuxuryLink is excellent for finding hotels, cruises, tours, and other high-end travel needs. What will we do when we get there?
Haven’t you always wondered…
From one of our favorite magazines, Budget Travel, how to get from 15 to 50 percent off just by growing old.
Travel Companies We Love…
After our June trip to Costa Rica, and our October Nova Scotia trip, we can’t say enough good about Caravan tours. They’re inexpensive, yet complete with good food, good accommodations, and above all great Tour Directors. Over 50 years in the business shows! Tours include Central America, Mexico, U.S., and Canada. Check ‘em out before you make your final decision.
Carolyn and I spent three weeks with these folks in what I call “The Spoiled Rotten Tour of China“. I couldn’t have been more comfortable, more educational, more enlightening. I got some fantastic photos, too.
When you Choose to be Bumped – Here’s How to Save Big Bucks
More Airline Info…
How to get more of everything, including cash, with your frequent flyer miles: www.flyertalk.com
Extremely popular with senior flyers, for its Q & A and Head2Head comparisons with two airlines: www.webflyer.com. Great community knowledge here!
For international flights within Europe, senior travelers should go to the one airline left out at www.ryanair.com
Veterans are eligible for a 50 percent discount at Amtrak on most routes within the continental US through 2003. Sign up for the Veterans Advantage — an annual membership fee of $19.95. Reservations must be made three days prior to travel. Go to www.veteransadvantage.com or call 866-838.7392. No good for summer months, but there’s a 15 percent discount then.
“Mature” students are often eligible for the same travel deals offered to younger students. I went to Europe on a Photography Tour arranged for my community college classmates taking photography. I saved a bundle and had a great time with the kids. For more info, contact colleges and universities around your area and/or go to www.studentuniverse.com. (Often you can get great deals on computers and software with your student ID card.)
The following are from Barbara’s Travel Libido – A column that mixes fantasy and sensuality with the reality of travel.
Whale watching: no parka required. Enjoy the beautiful skies and warm weather in Baja.
Visit the most desolate national park in America. Read about its military history.
In Adelaide, take a crash course in winemaking, wine tasting, and just about everything that comes up with 130-year old Shiraz grapevines.
Often, the best travel hints and stories come from Suddenly Senior readers…
Thinking about traveling to London? Don’t forget to visit the London theatres. Read our tips on getting access.
Senior travel expert Bonnie Burns isn’t in Kansas anymore. Now a resident of Zurich, Switzerland, she writes about how you can save big money and have a better time using public transportation, museum passes, and shoe leather. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Check it out now.
Also by Bonnie Burns. This world-traveling Suddenly Senior takes us to Norway with gorgeous photos and money-saving tips.
Being a poor senior with a love of travel I am a bargain seeker so I appreciate them all. Being on the board of a hostel located in the CVNA (National Park), unless that ass in Washington sells it, I have grown to appreciate the Hostel Advantage. There are places in parks, lighthouses, farms, or any other place that you could imagine, usually, for around $15.00 a night and some even furnish breakfasts. I have spent many great evenings with people from anywhere in the world that you could imagine. There are over 4000 in this world and it is not surprising that they are full of old farts like us. Thanks again George Rahlfs
First, Get a City Pass
In a handful of US cities, you can save big by buying a CityPass which provides admission to many attractions for one price
For instance, the New York City CityPass is $53 and includes tickets to six attractions including the Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, and the Empire State Building observatory deck. Other CityPass cites are Chicago, Hollywood, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco. Prices vary and most passes are valid for nine days. Call 1-888.330.5008 or go to www.citypass.com.
Finding the Hotel Room You Want (for the price you want to pay)
Here, according to Travel & Leisure, are the best places on the Internet to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- expedia.com – 60,000 properties with useful hotel descriptions. Browse views of rooms, restaurants, and lobbies.
- hotels.com – 10,000 properties with lists of landmarks to narrow your search.
- orbitz.com – 45,000 properties. Quickly sort hotels by price, quality, and distance from the city center.
- travelocity.com – 55,000 properties with traveler reviews and AAA ratings. Lets you search by amenities, from swimming pools to on-site dry cleaning.
Favorite Senior Travel Sites
Here is a list of some of our favorite online resources especially good for senior travel.
RoadsideAmerica, this online guide to offbeat tourist attractions is wonderfully quirky, featuring different strange sights and places every day. Worth a visit.
Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree chat site: www.lonelyplanet.com. Look for the “Older Traveller” branch.
Scott Oliver’s “We Love Costa Rica” site is directed primarily to American seniors looking to peaceful Costa Rica to live out at least part of their days. Learn about “Your new home of stunning scenery, sunshine & smiles,” as Scott says, with the many free articles. If you’re serious, you won’t mind paying the $99 annual fee.
Senior Travel Advice
It offers you the opportunity to travel to different regions through a home exchange, hospitality, rental, or lease to other Christians. The site also offers the additional opportunity to fellowship with Christians in the region you are traveling. Member listings include everything from RVs and homes to apartments and boats for exchange, hospitality, rental, or lease. Membership: $29 year.
For women who travel, Phyllis Stoller’s The Women’s Travel Club
African Safaris especially tailored to seniors. Check out SafariBookings 12-day adventure visiting the world-famous Kenya national parks and watch the wildlife surprisingly close, at your leisure.
- Discounted hotel rates in London – guaranteed lowest prices – at the city tourist board’s new site: www.visitlondon.com
- London hotels and apartments: Apartment Hotels in London
- Barcelona hotels and apartments: Apartment Hotels in Barcelona
- Polish hotels and apartments, including Warsaw and amazing Krakow: www.staypoland.com
- Elder Treks: Costa Rica, Ireland, dozens of countries, even Vietnam.
- Cultural guides drive groups of vacationers age 50+.
- The typical trip to Costa Rica lasts 10 days and costs $2,000.
- Grand Circle Travel: www.gct.com
- Butterfield & Robinson: www.butterfield.com
- Smithsonian Journeys: www.smithsonianjourneys.org
Each year, more than 170,000 senior travelers age 55+ sign up for educational or volunteer service vacations here. Hundreds of trips are made more affordable by staying in modest, centrally located hotels, most with private baths. A six-day exploration of New Orleans: “A City of History and Celebration” is $543. A study cruise to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, $4,430.
GREENBACKS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER TAJ MAHAL
As the US dollar falls, foreign travel becomes more expensive. Worse, now one of the seven wonders of the world refuses to even accept our money. Rupees only, please!
AVOID SPEED TRAPS!
State by state, city by city, here’s where to slow down and be careful: www.speedtrap.org
CHEAP RESORT VACATIONS
Renting time-shares may be for you. Most cost far less than hotels that have two or more bedrooms, kitchen, pool access and are generally resort-like. Check Timeshare User’s Group. Another good place to find that perfect vacation is www.tugbbs.com/forums, scroll down to “Rentals Offered.”
FIND CHEAPEST GAS ANYWHERE
Mapquest has just launched a new service to help travelers get the best gas prices in any area in the US. I just went to the site to put in my ZIP and found gas 12 cents cheaper than I’ve been paying. And it’s closer to home! Check out www.gasbuddy.com also.
Overpacking is the most typical mistake senior travelers make. Learn what to pack, what to pack it in, and how to pack it at www.onebag.com
TRAVEL INSURANCE MAY BE A GOOD IDEA FOR MEDICARE RECIPIENTS
Industry experts say in most cases, travel insurance duplicates other insurance the policyholder already owns. But it’s not a bad idea to buy extra insurance for medical assistance if your health is precarious and you’re traveling overseas.
Consumer Reports magazine says that could apply to Medicare recipients, because Medicare generally does not cover health expenses outside the U.S. Prices vary considerably for those policies, ranging from less than $100 to several hundred dollars.
SINGLE SENIOR TRAVELER?
Looking for that perfect 60ish companion with the time-share in the south of Spain? Singles Travel International may be the perfect site for you. Also of interest, Cruising for Love, the Singles Travel Company. MORE BELOW
PLAY THIS CARD!
As of the beginning of 2007, the only credit card that doesn’t charge fees for overseas currency conversions is Capital One.
CREDIT: PLAYING YOUR CREDIT CARDS RIGHT
Credit-card companies are cutting back on their rewards. Here’s the latest, thanks to Newsweek, on how to get the most for your credit card purchases.
UNBELIEVABLY GOOD DEALS AND GREAT ADVENTURES…
…that you absolutely can’t get unless you’re over 50 by Joan Rattner Heilman is out in its 2007 – 2008 edition. Worth buying.
Best tip: Never pay for anything in travel without asking about the availability of a senior discount. Never!
OVERSEAS CAR RENTAL RULES
Car rental rules are different than in the US. Many have limits on renting to those aged 70+. Although they vary, always ask. Or, rent Enterprise, which has no maximums in any country.
Airline Drinking Water Found Unsafe in EPA Studies. One of the most common pieces of advice offered to travelers is “don’t drink the water.” These days, it’s a good idea to start following that advice as soon as you board the plane.
To be on the safe side, drink only bottled water while flying. Skip ice cubes. Say no to coffee and tea as water aboard a commercial aircraft rarely reaches a temperature high enough to kill most pathogens. For more information, click here.
Latest Travel Tips
Flying Guide for Disabled Travelers
Waytofly allows customers to take a step back from the hassle and stress of trip planning and provides the cheapest business class airfare to countless destinations around the world. Click here for more information.
A site that offers disabled travelers a great resource for finding good accessible travel information. Click here for more information. Travel can be a risky venture for those over 65. Seniors with medical conditions – and even those with no health conditions – need the right travel insurance coverage to protect them from financial losses. Click here for more information.
Tips for Senior Travel Discounts
How and where senior travelers can save. Some airlines offer senior discounts, click here to view those airlines. Rental Car Costs can often be lowered by checking CarRentals.com or RentalCars.com. Both compare-by-company costs at various locations.
Often, hotels, airlines, and cruise companies have space available at the last minute that if they don’t sell, space loses any value.
Senior travelers booking a car at an airport can pay double what you pay online.
AirportRentalCars.com helps track down and reserve the cheapest rentals available. Want to see a destination ahead of time? Instead of reading about a place, go to Turnhere.com of free short videos of popular destinations around the world.
How to Avoid Paying Single Supplements
1. Travel off-season
Some resorts don’t charge supplements in their offseason or greatly reduce them. A summer resort can be just as delightful, less crowded, and cheaper in the spring and summer.
2. Be flexible
Some cruise lines offer seniors single supplement waivers on some cruises and not others. Before you get your heart set on a particular ship at a particular time of year, see what’s out there. Often older ships have more single cabins because of their more irregular configurations. Ask about repositioning cruises. These are cruises that take the ship to another port for the start of a cruise. Companies often waive supplements and offer discounts for them.
3. Book through a specialist
Big travel companies buy rooms and cabins in bulk and often have the power to demand a few single rooms or single supplement waivers. Companies like Grand Circle, and Saga, that specialize in senior travel, can often find single accommodations, reduced supplements or supplement waivers.
4. Try a more adventurous vacation
Safaris and treks that involve staying in tents, mountain refuges, or hostels usually don’t involve single supplements.
5. Book last minute
Resorts will usually waive supplements in the interest of filling their rooms.
6. Join a singles tour
Organizers of singles tours will often try to match you with a compatible roommate or to find resorts with some single accommodation.
7. Visit places that charge for the room, not the number of guests
A lot of hotels and resorts in the US charge the same for a room regardless of whether it has one guest or the maximum the room can accommodate. If it’s on a bed and breakfast basis, there may be a small supplement for extra guests rather than a single supplement.
8. Let the company match you with a traveling companion
Cruise companies and some travel agencies may offer to match you with a compatible traveling companion. As long as you are careful you can save money and you might make a friend for life.
9. Join a singles travel club or network
Look for non-profit singles networks. Many of these have forums and chat rooms where you can meet other single senior travelers or learn about companies that waive single supplements.
10. Try to negotiate
It never hurts to ask, especially if you are traveling during the off-season or if travel to your particular destination has been down lately. After 9/11, many Americans stayed home and London hotels felt the pinch. Visitors with enough front to haggle were able to get half-price rooms at some of London’s most famous hotels.
Top Travel Sites From Travel & Leisure & Others
ABOUT THE COUNTRY YOU’RE VISITING
Learn about security, politics, population, and other current info at the US State Department’s travel.state.gov.
Search through 3,000 trips (from biking to safaris) by date, price, and the region at iExplore.com.
Seatguru.com maps out the best and worst seats, by jet type, on six major US airlines. Which carriers provide the most legroom. Hint: look at the discounters.
For details on terminals and transportation at nearly 200 airports, go to Worldairportguides.com.
Hotwire.com lets you see the price (but not the supplier’s name) for airfare, hotels, and car rentals before you commit. Luxurylink.com sells resort stays at a discount.
At www.xe.com, fill in the amount and get instant currency conversion.
Find links to lodgings, tour operators, and travel services at Ecotourism.org.
ELECTRIC AND PHONE ADAPTERS
Check out REI’s article, How to Choose Travel Power Adapters, to find out which plugs you’ll need where.
CheapFlights.com quickly searches two dozen budget airlines for travel within Europe.
For interactive route maps and point-to-point and rail-pass tickets, head to Raileurope.com
Healthclubs.com helps you locate 5,400 gyms in 64 countries by address and features.
At Cybercaptive.com, search among more than 6,000 cybercafes by state, city, or country (though, unfortunately, not by address).
Manage accounts and learn all about air, hotel, and car-rental programs on Webflyer.com.
The clearest directions, including turn-by-turn maps, for North America and Europe, are at Mapquest.com and Expedia. I prefer Expedia for accuracy. MSN’s Mapblast covers 17 countries and has the ability to quickly locate any city on earth. Also, see www.viamichelin.com for European destinations.
Download kayak.com’s program, which searches dozens of air, hotel, and car-rental sites and compares their rates with suppliers such as Expedia and Travelocity.
Spafinder.com has details about any special deals for a day, hotel, and destination spas.
TIME & DATE
The exact time in more than 100 cities worldwide at www.timeanddate.com.
Property manager Wyndham Vacation Rentals lists 20,000 condos and houses in the United States and Canada.
Travelers might gain valuable information at www.accesstravelcenter.com. It’s certainly worth a look.
Tips That Can Make Your Senior Travel Life Better
Senior Air Travel
- Make your air reservations at around 1 A.M., when discounted fares are most available. The airlines reload their computers starting at midnight with the low-cost seats they sold but for which they’ve received no money. A temporary bulge in the number of rock-bottom-priced seats results.
- When booking a motel room, never mention your membership discount privileges (AAA, AARP, military, government, etc.) until after you’ve been told the room rate.
- Several hospitality exchanges have achieved longevity and reliability. People who are willing to have overnight guests in their homes receive similar free hospitality when they travel. Evergreen Club (815/456-3111, www.evergreenclub.com; limited to persons over 50, $15/day gratuity to host).
- When searching for an affordable hotel room for a short stay in London, contact Thistle Hotels (800-847-4358 for reservations, 800-295-4683 for brochures, www.thistle.com) and ask for their current special. You can often get a centrally located, first-class hotel room for up to 50% below the usual cost.
- The European equivalent of our own inexpensive, long-stay residence hotels is the Citadines Apart’hotels chain, charging $100 or less per night for a tiny but fully equipped apartment. For reservations at all Citadines, phone the firm’s central booking office in France (011-33/825-333-332) or go to www.citadines.com.
- Hotels.com is a leading firm in hotel discounting. They can dramatically cut your hotel costs in big US cities. Phone Hotels.com at 800-246-8357 (www.hotels.com).
- At $55 a couple per year, the Hilton Senior Travel Honors program is a top senior travel program for persons over the age of 60. Membership (800-432-3600) brings you discounts of 40% at Hilton Hotels worldwide.
Senior Other Lodging
- Swapping your home or apartment for one in another city is always the least expensive way to enjoy a vacation trip, especially for families. Companies arranging swaps include HomeLink International (800-638-3841, homelink.org), Intervac (800-756-HOME, www.intervac.com), and Home Exchange (www.homeexchange.com).
- Seniors stay free at hundreds of estates, mansions, farms, ranches, resort homes, and hunting or fishing lodges around the world by acting as a caretaker. Subscriptions to the bimonthly publication with job listings cost $29 a year. Contact: The Caretaker Gazette, PO Box 4005, Bergheim, TX 78004. (830) 336-3939 or explore online at www.caretaker.org.
- You can stay free all over the world using the 55-year-old Servas organization. Its more than 14,000 members on six continents will house you without charge for periods of two or three nights in their homes without requiring reciprocal hospitality from you. Membership costs $85 a year. Contact US Servas, 11 John St., Room #505, New York, NY 10038; 212/267-0252 (www.usservas.org).
- More than a dozen big cruise brokers quietly discount cruises. For more information contact Cruises Only (800-376-6637).
- Save money on your next cruise. Nearly every cruise ship charges extra for soft drinks (and, of course, for beer, wine, or cocktails) taken with meals, but hardly ever for fruit juice, the choice of health-conscious passengers. Order fruit juice with your meals and you’ll add not a single cent to your cruise bill on most (not all) cruise ships.
- Three reliable organizations can book you aboard passenger-carrying freighters. For unstructured oceangoing trips of a month or more, costing an average of $100 a day, contact Freighter World Cruises of Pasadena, CA (800-531-7774) or Maris Freighter Cruises of Westport, CT (The Freighter Travel Club; 800-996-2747, www.freightercruises.com).
Senior Temp Jobs
- You can work for six months at a Club Med resort, earning a bit, enjoying a lot. Americans are hired to be social directors (gentils organisateurs), housekeepers, childcare attendants, or hostesses for commitments as short as 180 days. For instructions, visit its Website at www.clubmedjobs.us.
- At www.playbill.com you can secure half-price theater tickets in New York and, other theater cities in the US without standing in line at a theater kiosk or waiting to buy tickets until the day of the performance.
- The John Jacobs’ Golf Schools offer fine accommodations, most meals, and five hours of daily golf instruction for as little as $895 a week at 40 top resort locations throughout the US Write the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools at 7825 East Redfield Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85260-6977, or phone 800-511-1639 or 480/991-8587 (www.jacobsgolf.com).
Don’t Gross Out the World
Sure, you know not to eat with your feet on the table at a fancy restaurant. But what about eating at a famous restaurant in Khartoum or Beijing?
How about ants in your soup? Let them drown or rescue them?
Don’t Forget Your Tooth Brush
Create your own before-you-leave checklists.
The Society of American Travel Writers lists nine items every senior traveler should carry:
- A good pair of walking shoes
- Photocopy of your passport
- Photocopies of your credit cards (carry copies separately from passport and cards)
- Photocopies of prescriptions for necessary medicines or eyeglasses
- Ziploc bags
- Imodium, for diarrhea
- Pocket flashlight
- Spare camera batteries
- Your address book.
You may also want to take adapter plugs and a nighttime reading light.