First, I wondered, who exactly is a senior traveler. George Bauer, host of public television’s The Seasoned Traveler, breaks us down in to four categories –
- Early retirees – those aged fifty to sixty who are planning investment strategies and sending their children out on their own
- Young elders – aged sixty to seventy, are slowing with age, but are still active and maintain high levels of disposable income
- Active elders – aged seventy to eighty who fill the cruise ships, travel abroad and take part in Elderhostel
- Sunset elders – between eighty and ninety-five or older, though facing declining health and activity levels, still travel, often times alone
As mature travelers, we are often retired and don’t have to worry about having enough vacation time. We can take longer trips and have more flexible time schedules. We’ve got a lot more experience in the world and have varied interests. We’re interested in slowing down and getting to know a place instead of rushing from attraction to attraction.
What if we don’t have a lot of disposable income or want to stretch it as far as possible? That’s were those lovely words “senior discount” come into play. In reality, there are some areas of travel that no longer offer the discounts they used to. Airlines and car rental companies are two. However, hotels and cruise lines do still offer some great senior discounts. It all comes down to gathering information and searching out the best deals. All the resources I found recommended checking all the discounts available, not just the ones for seniors.
Senior travel clubs, groups of senior citizens that travel together, are another alternative. These groups take different types of trips from day-long walking tours to overseas extravaganzas. Elderhostel (now known as Road Scholars) is one such group that combines learning experiences with travel. The benefits are lower costs, less individual planning and increased safety.
Of course, only you can decide what is the best way for you. Here at your library, we’re ready to help with information, in our Travel Neighborhood and online. I’ve highlighted a few comprehensive resource books as well as a couple of fun travel memoirs. Dynamic Travel is by George Hawley who writes from his Wrinkle City community (or Prairie Village, KS) and hilariously recounts his travel experiences. Jay Ben-Lesser’s A Foxy Old Woman’s Guide to Traveling Alone is a great reference for preparing to travel alone and includes “awareness” exercises.