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Tips to help stretch seniors’ travel budgets

Travel numbers on the rise
With passenger numbers on the rise, many airlines are looking to add more routes to their offerings. (Black Press Media file photo)

Being a retiree (or quasi-retiree) comes with many benefits, the flexibility to travel hopefully being one of them.

While the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders and stalled travel plans, many are now looking to pack their bags and explore the world again.

“Air Canada saw a tremendous rebound in international flying this past summer, particularly on the trans-Atlantic, and we expect Europe will remain popular next year. In anticipation of this, we are expanding our flying schedule to offer customers more choice and flexibility as they begin to plan their 2024 holidays,” said Mark Galardo, a vice-president at Air Canada, in a statement.

In 2019, Victoria International Airport saw a total of 1,924,385 passengers. That number plummeted to 574,874 in 2020 and 673,748 in 2021. While 2022 saw a resurgence (1,490,039 passengers), it still wasn’t back to pre-pandemic levels. However, this year has seen numbers similar to 2019, with 959,057 passengers passing through YYJ by the end of July.

While many budgets have been pinched with rising costs, seniors, like many Canadians, are still looking to travel. For those in their golden years, that can mean some benefits when taking trips. We’ve rounded up some tips to help get the most out of your budget:

Maximize your flexibility

Avoid peak travel times to get the best deals. Vacations that coincide with school breaks or holidays can drive up prices at popular destinations, including accommodations and excursions.

Retirees and quasi-retirees don’t have to travel based on those schedules and can use that scheduling flexibility to avoid high-season pitfalls.

Travelling in low or shoulder seasons, for example, can help stretch budgets with savings on flights as well as other aspects of the trip. Doing some research ahead of time can also help as what may be a peak travel time in Canada isn’t always the same in other countries.

For example, a popular hotel in Rome (found on Travelocity) was averaging about $200 a night for a standard room during the peak season (September through early November). However, that same room was listed for less than $140 during the August shoulder season.

Get professional help

Consulting a travel agent or other professional in the industry can save some headaches as many border regulations and travel requirements changed during the pandemic and some are still changing to this day. Egypt, for example, is implementing new visa measures for Canadian citizens beginning Oct. 1, causing some challenges for travellers as they will no longer be able to obtain a visa upon arrival at any of the country’s entry ports.

For help with everything from border restrictions to travel insurance, these professionals are there to make sure your trip goes smoothly.

Extend your stay

While it seems counterintuitive, staying longer in one place can also lead to savings.

Instead of changing accommodations every few nights, consider an extended stay in one place. Often discounts are offered for stays that are longer than three nights while amortizing or limiting additional fees can help make your dollar go further.

For example, if your short-term rental has a $200 cleaning fee, that adds almost $70 per night to a three-night stay. On a seven-night stay, that works out to less than $30 a night.

Get your senior’s discount

While age discounts are not universal – and the age range can vary – they do still exist in many countries. Senior discounts can apply to everything from meals to excursions so don’t be afraid to ask about pricing options when you are booking a trip or paying an entry fee.

For example, Amtrak travellers over the age of 65 are eligible to receive a 10-per-cent discount on most routes while cross-border services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada apply to those over the age of 60.

Many museums, restaurants and other service providers also offer discounts geared to those in their golden years so make sure you take advantage.

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