There are two groups that any senior should be aware of: Road Scholar, the travel division of Elderhostel, and AARP, both of which focus on travel for the 50 and over crowd (Elderhostel is 55, 50 for AARP). These are not travel agents, but rather are two groups that focus extensively on seniors and travel.
Travel agents have their uses for complicated journeys to exotic lands, like African safaris, for example. For the average senior, however, the Internet is the medium of choice for travel planning, much as it is for the rest of the population. Where the two groups mentioned play an important role in is targeting travel information, discounts, and adventures for seniors. They both do so very well, although in very different ways.
AARP and travel discounts
AARP is a clearinghouse of information for seniors, with travel benefits and discounts being one of many facets of their services. For less than $20 a year, an individual receives a monthly magazine, a newsletter, membership card, and a huge number of discounts on services ranging from prescriptions to auto insurance to travel.
AARP discounts are everywhere: hotels, airlines, rental cars, restaurants, and tour companies. In very little time (the cost of one trip alone), any senior will surely earn back his or her membership fee. Details of travel discounts can be found on the AARP website, as well as in its magazine and newsletter.
Elderhostel and Road Scholar
Elderhostel is focused strictly on senior travel, with the philosophy that as humans, we never stop learning. Travel is a wonderful way to expand our vision and knowledge, and Elderhostel is the senior equivalent of student backpacking. It began with bunking seniors in colleges over the summer, while holding non-credit continuing education classes, and it has evolved today into a full-fledged travel compendium.
Their travel program, Road Scholar, features travel opportunities around the world — from events in many local communities (short-term travel and learning experiences) to world tours. Although the cheap and cheerful travel is still there, so are the sophisticated tours of exotic locales with luxury accommodations. That’s what makes it so special: Seniors come together to travel the world and have a wide range of choice.
As can be seen from these organizations’ website URLs, both are nonprofit groups, which means that they are designed to help facilitate seniors’ travel missions, not merely make money from the participants. Any senior who longs to travel the world, find a suitable traveling companion, or get a discount on his or her next trip would be well advised to check out both of these great organizations.