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Dig deeper to find senior discounts

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NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (4/28/08)--If you’re traveling this summer and want to find money-saving discounts for seniors, you’ll have to look a little harder and be savvier about the process (Bankrate.com April 9). It’s estimated that people age 50 and older account for nearly 80% of all leisure travel spending (About.com April 2008). This travel cohort also tends to travel more frequently, go longer distances, be more flexible with schedules, and stay at their destinations longer than other groups. And with the cost of food and gasoline at record levels, it will be more important than ever to take steps to keep travel costs under control:
* Shop online. Start at seniordiscounts.com, which offers both freebies and membership options. * Sign up for e-newsletters. These tend to advertise current discounts. Check out newsletters for Orbitz.com and Travelzoo.com. * Look beyond the Web. Some discounts are offered only on websites, so shop to compare them by calling around and by clicking. For example, search hotel websites for special deals on room rates, then call them to see if they’re offering last-minute discounts. * Enjoy being carded. Many discounts require, for example, AAA or AARP membership, so carry those cards with you at all times. * Ask what age triggers the discount. Do you have to be older than 50, 55, 60, 62, 65, or 70? Also, ask about other restrictions such as day of the week, time of the year, or season. * Share senior discounts. Ask whether the senior discount can be applied to all individuals traveling together, regardless of age, as long as one person qualifies as a senior. * Check for deals not tied to age. The best discount may turn out to be less costly than the discount for seniors. Instead of asking for the senior discount, ask for the lowest possible rate or the best deal available for the time you want to travel. * Use a major credit card. If you run into problems and need to dispute a charge, you’ll have the backing of the credit card company. If you pay with cash or other form of payment, you may be out of luck if there’s a disagreement over the bill. * Consider house swapping. Home exchanges--particularly with individuals from other countries--save hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars in lodging costs.
For more information, read “Do You Need Travel Insurance?” in Plan It: Retire Ready Toolkit.”