Traveling on a Budget
By shopping smart and shopping around, you can save big bucks on travel

Money Matters

Budget travel may conjure images of college students backpacking through Europe or bunking at youth hostels, but travel expert Kelly Merritt, author of The Everything Family Guide to Budget Travel, shares how older adults can travel comfortably while still saving a bundle.

Book It

Here are a few of Merritt’s tips to save on booking airfare, car rentals and rooms:

  • If you’re going to need a rental car and airfare, she suggests booking both together online. “I use [sites like] Expedia a lot when I need a car and hotel in addition to my flight,” Merritt says. “It saves time in booking and I’ve found I can save as much as 40 to 50 percent off the retail prices for each of those products if I were to buy them separately.”
  • Being flexible on the dates and times you’re willing to travel, and checking airline rates mid-week can also produce additional airfare savings.
  • Credit card points can be great for use on travel as well, since points can often be exchanged for rooms and plane tickets. Look into your credit card’s reward system to find out the details of your particular account.

Season’s Best

“For great hotels and savings on meals and activities, some of the very best deals are in mountain destinations during the off season,” Merritt comments. “Seniors may be less likely to engage in extreme skiing, for example, but places like Stowe or Killington, Vt., and especially Aspen, Co., are absolutely gorgeous during the spring and summer months. These places have great dining, shopping and tourism activities and slash prices during the off season – and the mountains are breathtaking.”

Her other tip for extreme savings for today’s active adult travelers is advanced planning. “Seniors are often on a fixed income, so advanced planning is very important if you are going to get the most bang for the buck,” she says.

Safety (and Friendship) in Numbers

While group tours can be more costly than going it alone, the benefits include meeting new friends and added safety. These benefits   increase when traveling abroad.

“To have a guide, especially one who speaks the language of the country, is to be able to truly relax and immerse yourself in the culture,” Merritt says. “But even with all of these benefits, the biggest benefit is how easy it is to forge lasting friendships with fellow senior travelers. At the Alta Lodge ski resort in Alta, Utah, for example, a group of women met there nearly 30 years ago. That same group travels back every year to ski and fellowship together.”

By shopping around online, booking early and staying flexible about where and when you travel, you truly can see the world without spending a fortune. Bon voyage!


Cheap Travel Tips –

AARP Travel page –

Tips for saving on air travel –