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Discounts For The Mature Traveler

These days, the travel industry is going out of its way to give people who are 50 and over incentive to travel.

Mark Orwoll, managing editor of Travel + Leisure magazine, stopped by The Early Show with some information about some companies that are offering discounts and other travel tips for travelers "Young at Heart."

Orwoll says those in the 50-and-older age range aren't necessarily the gray-haired grannies following tour guides on the deck of a cruise ship. Today, he explains, mature travelers are more youthful in outlook, probably stronger and healthier, more adventurous in terms of attitude, and they have more discretionary income.

Plus, Orwoll says, they can get discounts to travel as an AARP member (members are over 50). The Travel + Leisure magazine editor says those over 50 should mention their age when planning their own trip to get discounts aimed for their age group.

Here are some discounts Orwoll says those over 50 should be on the lookout for:

  • America West Airlines offers four coupons in a booklet for around $700 to people who are 62 years and older. The coupon are good for a one-way fare anywhere in the U.S.
  • Many airlines will offer a senior discount to travelers over 65.
  • United Airlines has a membership program called, "Silver Wings Plus." Anyone 55 or older can be a member. You have to pay a membership fee of $225 for a lifetime membership. You get discount coupons for trips on most major cruise lines, discounts on hotels, and more.
  • If you want to take a train, Amtrak gives people 62 or older a 15 percent discount.
  • VIA is the equivalent of Amtrak in Canada. They give a 10 percent discount for people 60 or older. Currently, you can get a free companion ticket.
  • Hilton hotels have a program called the "HHonors Program." You get points for every time you stay and they offer expedited check-in and discount meals at hotel restaurants.
People who travel alone

One of the big problems for single travelers is what Orwoll called "the dreaded single supplement." The single traveler can be given 25 percent, 50 percent or more above the quoted price for tickets, depending on the destination. A single traveler will pay the same amount of money for a hotel room because he or she takes the same amount of space as a couple.

Orwoll says there is an understanding among tour operators who cater to seniors that this is an expensive proposition. Grand Circle has gone out of its way to have a limited number available for seniors that they will not charge. And, if they do have to do this, it will not be more than it will cost them.

Also some companies will provide a companion.

Travel operators for the 50-plus set

Orwoll recommends looking at tour operators who have the senior market in mind.

  • Elderhostel, a non-profit group has programs all over the U.S. Usually, the accommodations are in college dorms or in affordable small hotels or motels.
  • Intrav, is a deluxe tour operator. The majority of its clients are seniors. They have tours all over the world. Whether visiting the great castles of Germany or going out to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, they know that people who have achieved something in life are interested in luxury accommodations.
  • Grand Circle Travel
  • Cosmos
  • Globus

Avoid scams

Orwoll warns to watch out for the telemarketing scams that offer a great trip to the Bahamas or Cancun. You may be asked to pay a $200 membership fee that will allow you to get the vacation virtually cost-free. However, many people have found that after they give their credit card number that they don't receive travel documents they were told to expect.

Travel health tips

As we get older, we can't just rely on Mother Nature to take care of our health, Orwoll says. It becomes increasingly important that people maintain their health. That said, here are some of the things he recommends when traveling to stay healthy.

  • Take a sufficient supply of prescription medications.
  • Ask your doctor to write down the list of medications you are taking and why. This is particularly important if you're taking prescribed narcotics. Don't just put pills in a white envelope because you don't want to take the entire bottle. Orwoll says you can go through a lot of hassle if you're traveling overseas and a bag inspector finds it.
  • Visit a travel medicine specialist if you are traveling overseas and you have a specific health problem that may get worse if you are in an environment that is not up to U.S. and western European standards.
    A travel health specialist will give the health conditions of the place of travel, they will tell you if your health condition may be exacerbated or if you need vaccinations. A travel health specialist will be needed if traveling to certain parts of Africa, Asia and eastern Europe.

    Visit The International Society of Travel Medicine for a list of travel medicine specialist.

  • Buy insurance that will cover your medical expenses if you are injured or have other medical needs.
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