Because of the positive response my last post on travel discounts generated, I’ve done some more digging to find transportation discounts for seniors that can save you money whether you plan to travel with aging parents or decide to fly solo. Many of the best discounts are online but often get overlooked because they’re difficult to find. Once you locate an online deal, if you decide to purchase it, be sure to talk to a representative by phone first to ensure that you get the best deal possible. Also note that some deals listed online fluctuate by season or are limited-time offers.
CruisesOnly offers a wide variety of cruise discounts for seniors aged 55 and up (certain cruise lines—such as Disney, Crystal, Holland, and Princess—give discounts only to travelers who are at least 60). CruisesOnly listings cover over 295 ships on 24 cruise lines, so you’ll find plenty of options here, which is great new is going on a cruise is on your retirement holiday bucket list.
Greyhound offers 5% off unrestricted or standard fares for anyone aged 62 and older. The standard fare is what you pay if you purchase your tickets in person. Please do not purchase your tickets this way! The best way to save money on Greyhound fares is to purchase your tickets online as a “Web only fare” or as an “advanced purchase.” (Depending on the route and time, one of those two options may have a lower price than the other.)
For instance, a one-way “Web only fare” ticket from Washington, DC, to New York, NY, can currently be had for as little as $13, but the standard fare for the same route is $35.95. So in this case you get a 64% discount just for booking online! Unfortunately, you can’t combine any online discount with the 5% senior discount—but when you’re saving this much, do you really need to?
One note about Greyhound’s website: on the page where you search for fares, one adult ticket is already selected for you. If you do choose to purchase a senior ticket, make sure you deselect the adult ticket or you’ll end up purchasing both. I actually had to speak to a representative before I figured this out!
Local Public Transportation
Many cities and counties offer public transportation discounts to senior citizens, so be sure to check out what’s available in your area. For example, seniors who are 65 and older and have one of the specified forms of ID can travel for free (bus, trolley, and subway) or for $1 (regional rail within Pennsylvania) on SEPTA in the Philadelphia area. NYC’s MTA and San Francisco’s BART are just two of the many other municipal systems that provide discounted fares for seniors.
As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, AARP members get great deals—including car rentals. New deals pop up all the time (and old ones expire), so be sure to check the AARP website for current transportation discounts. Budget had the best deal at the time I wrote this post: 50% off for AARP members who are 50+ (although several other major agencies were offering discounts of 25% and more).
Even if you’re not a member of AARP, you might be able to find some car rental discounts. Check the rental company’s website (or ask a company representative by phone or in person) to see if it offers any discounts to senior citizens regardless of AARP membership.
International Rail Travel
Don’t forget to look for savings abroad, too! In the US people travel extensively by car, but in many other countries (especially in Europe) narrow streets, high gas prices, and expensive car rentals make trains the best way to get around. Definitely do your research on this when planning a trip abroad! Here are just three of the many foreign destinations that offer great senior discounts on rail travel.
Travelers aged 60 and over receive a 15% discount on National Rail’s BritRail Pass, which gives the bearer hop-on hop-off access on trains throughout the United Kingdom for a particular length of time. Select the version that best suits your travel plans (for example, the regular BritRail Pass lets you travel in England, Scotland, and Wales, but the BritRail South West Pass covers only the southwestern part of England) and make sure you purchase it before leaving home—the pass is available only to non-European residents and can’t be purchased in the UK! Actual seats reservations are free at the station, and you can book up to one hour before the next train’s departure at no cost. However, if you book a seat in advance online, it’ll set you back $12 per seat.
National Rail also offers the Two Together Railcard, which is a great option if you’re traveling with an aging parent! It gives two people (aged 16 and older) who are traveling together one-third off on most train ticket prices (except during rush hour). The pass costs £30 (currently about $50), lasts for one year, and also gives some restaurant, event, and retail discounts, too. This pass works only when the two cardholders are together, so don’t pick up one of these unless you have a travel buddy (seems like a great way to travel with Mom)!
VIA Rail Canada gives travelers aged 60 and up a 10% discount on economy class full adult fares. In addition to the discount, seniors receive another perk: they get to board trains first! (Mom really wants to do the train from Toronto to Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies. I’ve heard it’s nothing short of spectacular! I’ll definitely keep this deal in mind when planning that trip.)
If you’re 60 or older and planning a trip to Spain, be sure to pick up a Tarjeta Dorada (Gold Card) at a Renfe station, ticket office, or tourist agency when you get there. It costs only €6 (currently a little under $9), is valid for a year, and gives you rail travel discounts ranging from 25% to 45%, as well as discounts at certain government-owned attractions.
One final tip: Look for travel websites and read the comments and suggestions in the forums about local transportation in foreign countries. Your fellow travelers are happy to share their tips for booking tickets and saving money when traveling abroad. (And perhaps, after your own international trip, you’ll be inclined to contribute to those online conversations yourself!)
As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, the #1 rule regarding senior travel discounts is “Speak up!” It’s amazing how many companies offer transportation discounts for seniors and just don’t publicize them. So always be sure to ask!
Have you discovered any great travel discounts for seniors, either here or abroad? Share them with us in the comments!