Senior Budget Travel in Europe
By Arnie Wills
|Travel by budget airlines in Europe, such as Ryanair, is a great way to get around..
Seniors have plenty of ways to cut costs if you know where to look.
Air travel is generally the biggest money outlayand therefore the biggest deterrent to going anywhere. Consider some key ways around it. One is the extraordinarily low winter airfare to get to Europe that happens every year, usually between mid-October and March or April. Airlines offer transatlantic roundtrip fares of $700 or even less to London, Paris, Rome, etc.
Why would you want to go abroad in the winter? To see and do the same things as in peak seasons and without the crowds and high costs for museums, concerts, theater, language courses. Hotels and all-inclusive packages are generally cheaper at that time too. Book at least six months in advance and pay early to get low-priced promotional airfare, or, if your time is flexible, see what you can get at the last minute for a low price. Most major airlines have discontinued the senior discount fare, making the off-season rates especially attractive. Once in Europe, youll find more new airlines to provide cheap travel from nearly all the major hubs to wherever you want to go.
Other Discounts for Seniors in Europe
More opportunities to save are available for the over-60 crowd. Senior rail passes on the very modern train systems are generally for single countries.
For discounts in general, other than transportation, different countries offer different deals, and the practice is often unpredictable. Some bargains are available to anyone over 60; others are limited to citizens of the EU nations. In Greece, for instance, a few museums and archeological sites are discounted. In Austria discounts vary from one museum or site to another; there is no general rule. You often have to be a member of an association or hold a British pension book in England to get a discount. And so it goesno hard and fast specifics. Before you go, see what discount cards are available for free or reduced rates to attractions in the areas youll visiting.
The point is that discounts are out there. Theyre very often available for movies, theaters, museums, tours, local sightseeing, historic buildings, hotels, restaurants, and car rentals. The main rule to keep in mind is that if you think you may qualify for a discount on anything ask. Theyre not apt to volunteer the offerany more than they do in your home town. In the case of hotels and car rentals, ask when you make the reservation, not when you check out. And ask too for weekend or midweek packages at hotels or, better yet, look for lower-priced B and Bs where youll often feel like one of the family.
As for evening meals, which abroad are frequently served when American seniors are ready to turn in, look for early-bird menus, often served before 7 p.m.
Another tip: always keep some form of identification like a passport or a drivers license with you that shows your date of birth. You never know when and where a bargain is waiting for you. Finally, verify all published rates and schedules before you assume theyre valid.
Airlines Within Europe
Once upon a time, train travel was the
cheapest way to get from city to city in Europe. Now there
are a plethora of airlines offering extremely good rates,
often far better than traveling by the excellent
train systems with discounts for seniors (which are
also an option to go to smaller towns).
Ryanair is Europe's most popular airline and offers more than 1,800 daily flights from 85 bases, connecting over 200 destinations in 33 countries.
British Airways has flights going all over the globe and many different packages.
ARNIE WILLS is the former Senior Travel Editor for Transitions Abroad.