They say life begins at 40. Poppycock! Life really begins when you’ve broken free of the shackles of employment, so long as you’ve saved up your pennies along the way, and can enjoy the many wonders this big, wide world has to offer. While pensions are being squeezed like never before, us seniors can at least take advantage of a wide variety of travel discounts that just aren’t available to younger travellers.
Whether companies selling products related to travel and tourism are just being kind to us poor, old, doddery folk or are instead cynically trying to grab as much of the “grey pound” as they can before we croak it matters little. The fact is they are falling over themselves to get us into their hotels, into their hire cars, on their cruises and purchasing their insurance policies. For example, many highly regarded international hotel chains offer discounts in the region of 10-30% to seniors, with the age at which these discounts kick in often being as low as 55… mere whippersnappers!
Sometimes hotels also offer flexible rates to seniors for the same price as advanced purchase rates and sometimes they throw in extra perks like extended check-out times, which are most welcome after a glass or three two many of the local tipple the previous night. It should be noted, however, that these special rates are invariably hidden away in the hotel booking websites and occasionally they can’t be accessed from the hotel’s UK site at all. But it (literally) pays to do some digging, contacting the hotel’s head office and so on, in order to bag the best deals.
As well as hotels, there are myriad visitor attractions which offer discounts for seniors all over the world. For example, right on our doorstep both English Heritage and the National Trust give about 10% discounts for seniors over 60, and annual subscriptions can be up to 25% cheaper. Abroad you can do even better. In Italy, for example, entry to most national heritage sites, such as that at Segesta in Sicily (pictured), is totally free of charge for Europeans over 65.
Since most seniors are retired or semi-retired, they can also choose to book holiday flights at cheap times. Research carried out by Which? last year found that it was cheaper to travel on Tuesdays than any other day of the week whether using budget or more traditional airlines. Another example of where seniors can save on travel compared with younger travellers is when using railways. There are many rail travel discount schemes throughout the world for seniors; in Hungary for example, Europeans over 65 can travel completely free of charge over the whole network. With flights to Budapest available for next to nothing during the spring and early summer when Hungary is often at its most pleasant, a rail adventure around this varied, interesting and welcoming country can be achieved without costing an arm, a leg and a false hip.
Of course, it’s all well and good knowing that senior travel discounts exist in general, but finding the specific details can be something of a troublesome pastime. But help is at hand in the form of the seniortravelexpert.com website. The site gives travel ideas, information and advice for senior travellers and holidaymakers, and – crucially – lists details of many of the available senior-specific travel discounts. It also acts as a travel blog of many of the adventures I’ve had over the years, from round-the-world trips to my regular trips to Hungary (where my wife and I own a house near the picturesque Lake Balaton), from Japan to Malaysia, Morocco to South Africa (and also a few places a little closer to home).
If you are getting to a certain age at which the free bus pass just won’t satisfy your inner urge for adventure, have a read of the articles in this section of this site, or pay a visit to my own, and get inspired to travel and experience as much of the world as your health and finances will allow. You’ve worked your whole life and earned some time to enjoy yourself, so I strongly urge you to get out there now and spend as much of your kids’ inheritance as you can (you certainly don’t want to leave more than the inheritance tax threshold, after all!). Good luck and happy travelling!
Steve Hanson has travelled to all corners of the globe for work and pleasure and in “retirement” runs the website seniortravelexpert.com which offers travel advice, tips and discount information to senior travellers.
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