Where to Find Travel Discounts for Seniors

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Senior couple on the beach
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

Once you get to the golden age of 50, you will start to qualify for senior discounts.

Whether you plan to visit grandchildren who live out-of-state, or you’re hoping to travel abroad, take advantage of the deals available on transportation, lodging and even sightseeing.

The more you save on each trip, the more trips you can afford to take. Here are some ways to save money on travel once you’ve reached a certain age.

Dine at restaurants that offer smaller portions or a special senior menu

seniors dining
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If you order a too-large meal, ask for a box. Take the remainder back to your room if you have access to a refrigerator.

You can cost the cost of your dinners by up to 50% by planning a day of eating in. Stop at a grocery store for snacks and beverages instead of hitting those costly hotel vending machines.

Buy passes for venues you regularly visit

Early Retirement Happy Man
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Passes for seniors to enter national parks and other federal recreational sites used to cost $10, but last year the price skyrocketed. Now buy a Senior Pass for $80 and get a lifetime of free admission to 2,000 recreational sites operated by the federal government, including Yosemite National Park, Everglades National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and Abraham Lincoln’s Home in Springfield, Illinois.

An annual pass is $20; if you collect four consecutive annual passes you can trade them in for a lifetime pass. There is an additional fee if you order the pass online or by mail.

But if you are currently in the military, you can get a free pass that allows you and accompanying passengers in a personal vehicle to enter the parks.

Read more about the passes at the USGS Store webpage.

Rail passes save money

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If you’re 65 or older, you get 10% off most fares on most trains. But if you can book at least 14 days in advance, check out Amtrak’s Saver fare. You might save as much as 50%.

If you’re heading to Canada, look for 10% off some VIA Rail Canada fares.

Buying a railroad pass before leaving for Europe can save money, and if you’re 60 or older you can save even more money with a senior pass from Rail Europe.

Look online for deals

A senior worker checking his laptop
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Online travel sites often offer the cheapest deals on airlines and hotel rooms. Back in the day, it was easy to find discounts for seniors at airline ticketing sites.

But no more — even if you click on the senior ticket instead of the adult ticket, that doesn’t guarantee a bargain. Several airlines have outdated pages on their websites that state they offer discounts.

It doesn’t hurt to ask for a senior discount on any airline, or when reserving a room at a hotel.

AARP membership includes discounts at hotels if you show your membership card

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However, by using the AARP Travel Center you get an extra 10% off at the hotels run by select chains such as Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Choice Hotels.

Ready to cruise?

A couple eats ice cream on a cruise ship deck
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Some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean offer a discount to guests 55 and older. Look for special senior cruises if you would like to vacation with other people in your age group.

However, some of these special cruises can be pricey. Some cruise lines offer empty rooms for less as the date gets closer, so if you can be flexible with your vacation you could get one of these great deals at the last minute.

Carnival Cruise has a site to watch for Pack and Go cruises. There are dates available on the site from mid-September on.

Visit when entrance is free

Senior man lost in thought
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When you visit a city, find out if there are free days to visit the local museums and other attractions. For instance, Chicago on the Cheap lists free admission days to the city’s best and brightest places. Plan your itinerary to include your visit on a free admission day.

Factory tours on the cheap

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
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Do you wonder how things are made? Take a free or cheap factory tour in the area you are visiting. For instance, you can see how jelly beans are born at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, California.

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