Savings Strategies for Senior Travel Discounts

It’s easy to find age-based travel discounts if you know where to look.

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by NEA Member Benefits

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It seems the moment you turn 55, mail begins to arrive for special offers reserved for “seniors.” After the initial shock and denial wears off, embrace the opportunity to save serious money—especially on travel. Senior discounts and deals abound on travel-related purchases. And if they’re not advertised, you should always ask. While everyone knows about AARP, there are other sources for saving.

Accommodations

While NEA members can get 20% off their stay at Red Roof Inns other chains also offer discounts. Best Western, Choice Hotels and Marriott extend senior discounts averaging 10 to 15%, while Hyatt cuts up to 50%. The fine print may be buried on the company’s website, so search for the name of the brand with “senior discount” to find the information faster.

Buyer beware, though. You may find lower sale rates, however, since senior discounts are often taken off the hotel’s “rack rate”—the highest, published rate.

Transportation

No matter what mode of transportation you prefer, always look for senior discounts.

Airlines: Some airlines do offer senior discounts, but you may need to make your reservation over the phone rather than online. Southwest, United and Air France all offer them on certain flights. As with hotels, the senior deal may not be as good as a sale fare, so compare before committing.

Trains: Although there are several exceptions, such as the Acela and the Auto Train, Amtrak offers customers 62 and older a 15% discount on the lowest available rail fare. VIA Rail Canada, Eurostar and other international railways also give senior discounts.

Automobiles: NEA members of any age benefit from car rental discounts through Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise, National and Hertz. But if you don’t want to drive once you reach your destination, try a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. These services are generally cheaper than taxis. While public transportation (particularly buses and subways) is inexpensive overall, senior rates can be 50% or more off the regular adult fare. SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), for example, lets anyone 65 years or older ride free on its buses, trolleys and subway.

Roadside Assistance: If you lock yourself out of your car on a road trip, get a flat tire or dead battery, having a prepaid roadside assistance plan offers peace of mind. This is a service offered by some insurance companies, automobile clubs and automobile manufacturers. Senior discounts are available. The Allstate Motor Club, for example, offers 10% off membership for those 55 or older.

Cruises and group tours

You probably already know that NEA Vacations is your conduit to cruise discounts on 27 cruise lines such as Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Princess and others. Additionally, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean and other lines offer senior discounts on select sailings, if you’re flexible with travel dates.

Here’s another NEA Member Benefits perk anyone can use: discounts on group tour vacations through Trafalgar and NEA Adventures. And, there are also companies like Seniortours that cater specifically to this age bracket.

Attractions, activities and entertainment

This is where you’re nearly certain to get an age-based discount. Museums, performing arts venues, theme parks, movie theaters and other attractions will likely sell you a ticket for 15 to 20% less. Even public parks that charge entrance fees let seniors 62 or older in for a lower price. You have to plan ahead to order the U.S. National Parks Service’s Senior Pass (formerly the Golden Age Passport), but for $80 you’ll have lifetime access to all 410+ National Parks Service sites. Admission to festivals and other special events are usually discounted for older patrons.

While staying at a resort, ask if any of the amenities, such as the spa, golf course or restaurant, offer a senior discount. There are casinos, such as the M Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, with 50+ “players clubs” that discount dining and gift shop purchases. They also often offer special pricing on tournaments and drawings. 

Dining

The early bird special has become synonymous with senior citizens, but discounts ranging from 10 to 15% are available to seniors any time of the day at many nationwide chains. Try Applebee’s, Boston Market or Denny’s. Because these are often franchises, the terms may differ by location. Sometimes lower prices are offered through special menus. Country Kitchen, IHOP and Ponderosa Steakhouse all offer senior menus with smaller-portioned dishes.

Discounts for former employment or education

Retired? Where you or your spouse once worked may also qualify you for travel discounts. In many states—such as California, Kentucky and Nevada—organizations for retired educators offer money-saving membership perks.

If you were in the military, discounted rates are offered almost everywhere. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) offers hotels and car rental savings averaging 10–20%. There are also associations for retirees from many municipalities, police and firefighting forces. University alumni organizations can also be a source of membership-based discounts.

Other discount resources

When you sign up to “join” membership websites like SeniorDiscounts.com, you’re entitled to lower rates in several travel categories, including rental cars. Check your local senior citizens or community center for local or regional special offers, too.

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