Senior Travel Guide
Travelling is one of the greatest thrills in life. You get to experience exotic destinations, meet new people and immerse yourself in different cultures. Now that you're retired, work and family commitments can no longer keep you from spreading your wings. But, because you are probably on a fixed income, you also want to be smart about travel expenses. Whether you’re taking a picturesque cruise or hitting major tourist destinations, start by mapping out your adventure, i.e. choosing destinations, calculating a budget and protecting your safety. Then, hunt down deals that save you money on accommodation, transportation, and entertainment. Here's where to start.
Discount stay vs. Lovely location
Hotels and resorts of every flavour offer senior discounts. Because seniors are frequent travellers, many cater with special amenities and rates designed to make travel more cost-effective and convenient. For example:
- ChoiceHotels.com offers a special rate to those 60 and older at their family of hotels including Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn and others.
- Best Western offers a 10 percent discount for those 55 and up.
- Marriott offers 15 percent off for those 62 and up at hotels worldwide.
Of course, sometimes you'll want to splurge on your accommodation. The extra expense may be worth it if the hotel is:
- Central to your destination and the most convenient to activities and entertainment.
- Especially accommodating to any special medical or physical needs you might have.
- Located in an area deemed safer or more friendly to tourists when you're travelling abroad.
Frugal travel vs. Timely travel
Similar to hotels, transportation providers also offer convenient and affordable options for seniors. Some options to research:
- Cheapflights.com explains some of the ways seniors can receive discounts are through senior discount booklets, which are one-way tickets, or through a fixed percentage of savings.
- You can save up to 75 percent if you are willing to travel on last-minute deals or during off-peak times of the year.
- Trains and buses are an affordable option to air travel.
Consider splurging if transportation is an important aspect to you or your travel arrangements, such as in these cases:
- Waiting makes you too nervous. Spend the extra money on designated flight and train schedules.
- Some modes such as the Eurail pass do not offer senior discounts.
- Driving laws vary in other countries. Greece, Romania, Ireland and Italy, for example, will not rent cars to people over a certain age.
Cheap eats vs. Cultural feasts
If you're willing to be adventurous, food is one of the easiest areas to save money. Some cost-saving ideas:
- Visit a local market and stock up on foods you don't have to prepare. This way, you're learning about locally available fresh flavours and not eating in a restaurant for all three meals.
- Ask locals about their favourite local haunts and eat meals outside of the tourist areas.
- Load up on dining coupons you find online (but do your research beforehand and make sure they're reputable dining establishments).
Meals also can be a time to splurge. Depending on where you are travelling, eating and mealtime may be a significant part of the culture. Good reasons to splurge:
- If you're travelling to a food-centric location like France. In France, most meals consist of several dishes, which you are supposed to eat slowly so as to savour the food and the experience. A typical lunch consists of a starter like a soup or salad, a main course that has meat or fish and a starch or vegetables, and a dessert like fruit tarts or ice cream.
- Just because. One amazing meal that celebrates the culture and the exotic tastes of the locale is worth at least one splurge.
Cutting costs vs. Splurging for safety
You can cut costs by travelling as part of a senior group.
- Fun Over 50 and Seniors Holiday Travel offer discounts for seniors and also offer complete travel packages that include transportation, hotels and activities. Fun Over 50 also has a variety of tours including scenic helicopter tours and eco tours.
- Cruises are very popular with seniors because they can be as active or relaxed as you like, so you can easily find senior cruise deals. For example, Cruiseabout helps seniors find the latest deals and cruises that suit their lifestyles such as seniors-only or adult-only cruises. SeniorCruiseHolidays also offers cruise savings. They boast that they are Australia’s leading booker of cruises and that they negotiated prices for seniors with the cruise lines.
- Seniors also enjoy scenic tours around beautiful countries. Scenic Tours, for instance, offers tours around Auckland, Greece, Vietnam, Las Vegas, Istanbul and many more. You can travel around one city or from place to place to see all that there is to offer. Scenic Tours also is a package deal, so you can be sure to have a wonderful experience that is less expensive and stress free.
You will definitely want to splurge on anything that involves your safety.
- Don’t take cabs or buses that are not registered (this is very common in South and Central America).
- Be sure to stay in a hotel and part of town that is friendly to Australians.
- Invest in travel insurance regardless of your health. The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade states that the Australian Government will not pay for medical treatment or evacuation overseas, and that individuals are personally liable. They strongly recommend getting travel insurance, explaining that it should cover medical expenses, theft, damage and cancellations.
Travelling can be one of your greatest adventures and a way to experience the world. Enjoy the flexibility and time you've earned to explore! Just be sure to do your research, save where you can and make sure you are protected. Bon voyage!
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