A book by Joan Rattner Heilman provides a bounty of bargains and discounts for people over 50.
You're not getting older, you're getting more bargains. We spoke with Joan Rattner Heilman; the 16th edition of her Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures That You Absolutely Can't Get Unless You're Over 50 will be published in January.
Q Are senior discounts harder to find than they used to be?
A Only on air travel. And a few U.S. airlines still offer senior discounts, including Southwest, America West, and Continental. So do many foreign airlines, such as British Airways and Lufthansa.
Q What about discounts on other forms of transportation?
A Almost every train and bus system offers senior discounts. If you're at least 60, Amtrak offers 10 percent off the lowest coach fare. Most car rental companies also have rates for seniors.
Q Are senior rates always the cheapest price?
A No. My advice: Ask first if there are any special sales or promotions. Once you've found the cheapest regular price, ask about senior discounts. Always arrange for the best price ahead of time. If you ask about discounts when you're paying your hotel bill, it's usually too late.
Q Your book promises good deals for people over 50, but aren't most senior discounts only available to people who are 60 or 65 and older?
A The older you are, the more discounts you're eligible for. But there are many deals—for example, AARP discounts—that are for anyone over 50 years old. Q Are some countries more likely to give senior discounts than others? A Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom stand out as extending particularly good discounts to seniors, but others offer deals, too.
Q Has the Internet made it easier to find bargains?
A Not always. It still helps to talk to someone on the phone. It's almost impossible to get information about senior discounts on car rental Web sites, for instance. I do recommend www.seniors.gov, which provides a wealth of good information, including travel discounts.
Q Any other tips for seniors?
A Be flexible about travel dates to get better deals on hotels, cruises, and tours. And don't be shy. If you don't ask about discounts, you're likely paying too much.
Photography courtesy McGraw-Hill
This article was first published in January 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.