By Bernard Freeman
Retirement means unlimited vacation days — time to take all those trips you couldn’t fit into your few weeks of annual vacation during your working life, energy for day and weekend trips to explore your own region that always seemed like too much after working 40 hours.
While there are plenty of trips that are fun for any traveler, senior citizens have additional options to see the world.
Find a Senior Travel Group
ElderTreks and Road Scholar offer adventures of all kinds for senior citizens, including short and inexpensive trips to places throughout the United States and longer excursions to Central and South America, Europe, Africa and more. These programs allow you to sign up for the trips you want to take, browsing through different adventure options like train travel, hiking, sea trips and more, and they do the planning for you.
Traveling by yourself? There are tour groups that cater to single senior citizens as well.
Look into Discounts
AARP and other organizations for senior citizens offer travel discounts on flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and tours. Check out what options are available. Often insurance companies and big box stores offer discounts as well, so find the best deal you can. When you go to museums and other sights, ask about a senior discount. You also can get deals on some train tickets throughout Europe, according to Rick Steves; ask at the train station what discounts are available.
Even without special deals, retirees have the advantage of more open schedules. Rick Steves suggests traveling during shoulder season (April-May, September-October), when prices are lower because it’s not peak season, but the weather is still fairly good.
Invest in a National Parks Pass
Seniors can get a lifetime National Parks pass for $80, allowing entry into all the national parks and monuments throughout the country.
For the outdoorsy types, this is an inexpensive way to spend a day or a weekend hiking or camping. Even the less outdoorsy types can find easy hikes or beautiful drives through some of the country’s most pristine, gorgeous landscapes, including the red rocks of Zion National Park, the geysers of Yellowstone or the green, rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park.