Living 50 Plus

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Travel benefits for those ages 50 and up

One of the best things about aging is being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor without as many obligations as you might have had when you were a younger adult. For example, many men and women have a lot more freedom to travel once they turn 50.

Many of today's older adults have a wealth of discretionary time, and those who focused on retirement planning from an early age have the money to fund a recreational lifestyle. Travel companies and other businesses understand that Baby Boomers and other seniors are valuable customers and are rolling out the red carpet with a bevy of discounts and perks.

AARP Services, Inc. has long been a trusted resource in senior-based information and resources. The organization continues to broker relationships with various companies to arrange deals on travel-related services and products for older men and women. Members of AARP can link directly to deals through the organization's website.

In addition to companies that work with AARP, many other travel companies have discounts or other perks available to men and women over 50. All consumers need to do is inquire about such benefits. When in doubt, log on to the company's website or give their customer service department a call.

Here are some other ways to secure deals on travel and other services.

• Do some networking. Fellow seniors who log in to chat rooms or who are members of social clubs may have the inside scoop on age-based travel deals. Learn the ropes from others who have been there before you and take notes on which companies offer the best deals.

• Read the fine print. Understand the details of senior discounts and compare them to other promotions offered to anyone, regardless of age. You may be able to get a better deal or combine offers if you're not locked into a senior plan. Also, check the dates when deals are valid to ensure you can travel when you want to.

• Always carry proof of age. Whether it is a driver's license, AARP card, passport, or birth certificate, carry proof of your age at all times. You do not want to miss out on a discount because you cannot verify you are 50 or older. Though being mistaken as younger could be a boost to your ego, it will not benefit your bottom line.

• Explore airline perks. Men and women 55 and older may be eligible for "golden-agers" discounts at major airlines. Such deals are not typically advertised, so you may need to speak with an airline representative to secure the discount. Seniors also can request special services, such as baggage assistance, priority seating and a ride to the gate, at the airport.

• Try negotiating with vendors. If you cannot find a senior discount, consider negotiating with vendors for deals. Local hotels or businesses may prove more flexible than national chains. It never hurts to ask for a senior discount.

• Embrace flexibility in scheduling. Unlike students or business travelers, seniors tend to have freedom with regard to the days of the week when they can travel. You have the flexibility to go and come as you please without having to coordinate with vacation time or school breaks. Use this to your advantage and travel during off-peak times when crowds will be small and rates may be lower.

Don't feel down if you're approaching another milestone birthday. Entering into your golden years gives you access to a variety of perks and discounts that can save you time and money on travel.