In the popular imagination, pensioners get a great deal on travel. Concessionary fares on buses and trains, free access schemes for older people with mobility issues, discounts on pensioner-friendly day trips and group excursions – it seems that senior citizens are guaranteed great value when they travel.
Unfortunately, this is not the reality most older people experience when they travel abroad. Airlines do not offer concessions on aeroplane tickets the way train and bus operators do, and in some respects, overseas travel can end up costing even more when you hit retirement.
Travel insurance is a major culprit in hiking up holiday prices for older people. There is a reason why travel insurance costs go up once people reach retirement age – senior travellers are more likely to make a claim.
Prices can sharply increase, and the impact this can have on travel plans. “There are stories of people in their 60s experiencing 50 per cent price increases from one year to the next when they take out travel insurance with the same provider,” a spokesperson said. “It’s even worse if you have a medical condition, and we hear about customers getting quoted more than the cost of their holiday for cover.
“Many travel insurance providers will link prices directly to age, making them higher and higher until they are simply unaffordable. Many people in their 70s who want to travel are put off by the cost of travel insurance. We would say this doesn’t have to be the case – travel insurance for the over 70s can be fair and manageable, you just have to look for the right provider.”
With affordable travel insurance sourced, it’s clear that there is plenty else older travellers can do to keep costs down.
“One advantage people in retirement have when it comes to travel is the luxury of choosing when to go. They are not tied to school holidays when airfares increase considerably, and they can take advantage of the best off-season deals.
“If possible, it is worth looking at ways to avoid air travel altogether for cheaper alternatives. Many places in the world offer discounted rates on rail fares for senior citizens, for example. If you are taking some time to travel the world, look at perhaps making a rail journey from one destination to the next rather than flying.
“Another excellent option if you want to spend an extended time away is to look for ‘gap year’ volunteering opportunities. People think of these as only being available for young students or recent graduates. But there are plenty of schemes for older travellers too, with the same benefits such as free or discounted board in return for the voluntary work you do.
“Finally, one of the best pieces of advice any traveller can be given for saving money is to get online. There are hundreds of forums and blogs out there sharing tips on how to get the best deal for every sort of trip imaginable.”