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3 Fast and Easy Ways for Seniors to Find Travel Deals

One of the ironies of life after retirement is that you finally have plenty of time to take the trips you’ve dreamed of for years, but now you have to make your nest egg last as long as possible. With a little smart shopping, you can achieve your travel goals without unbalancing your budget. Try using these simple approaches to spot the best vacation deals.

Book with the big names

AARP membership has long been a ticket to travel discounts for seniors, and online travel agencies like Expedia make package discounts and last-minute deals accessible to everyone. To get the best of both worlds, log on to the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia. The center “gives seniors full access to the more than 325,000 hotels and 400 airlines worldwide in Expedia’s database while offering AARP members exclusive travel deals,” said spokeswoman Dayna Sason. The center blends “members-only discounts with the best rates from Expedia,” a win-win deal for AARP members.

Members who book through the site get exclusive hotel, cruise, and car rental deals and avoid paying booking fees on air travel. Other perks include onboard credit on certain cruises, selected rental car upgrades, and deep discounts on flight and hotel packages.

Pick a package tour

If the thought of choosing flights, hotels, cruise itineraries, and sightseeing tours feels overwhelming, guided tour packages can provide sweet deals that don’t require you to sweat the details. A guided trip is often the best choice if you’re going to unfamiliar destinations abroad. AARP members can find guided getaways to Kenya, Australia, and Europe in the online travel center, and other operators offer deals as well.

Manhattan-based smarTours has been leading travel tours since 1996, and has won numerous awards for its value-priced packages. “If seniors want to save money, and time, nothing beats going to a value-oriented tour operator,” said Greg Geronemus, smarTours co-CEO. In addition to finding discounts on airfare, hotels, and sightseeing, “the tour operator does all the legwork and planning for you. That’s why it’s not a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of our clients are seniors and baby boomers.”

Get together for a group discount

Hotels typically offer group rates for wedding guests, company meetings, and family reunions, but if you’ve got a handful of friends or family heading to the same destination, you may qualify for a group rate, too. HotelPlanner can offer discount rates for groups as small as five people, said a company spokesperson. And if you’re the one handling the booking, your hotel stay may be free.

During a package tour everyone is on the same schedule, but booking a group rate at a familiar destination makes it easy to enjoy “bulk” savings and “me time,” too. The golfers, sightseers, and amusement-park fans in your group can split up during the day for fun and then gather at dinner to share the day’s events.

Remember to ask

On any trip, it pays to ask if the attractions you visit offer special deals for seniors. Most museums offer some sort of senior discount, and some zoos and aquaria do as well. The more you ask, the more likely you are to save a few bucks to put toward your next discounted travel adventure.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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