The focus here will be on travel tips for seniors. Fittingly, two of our main references for this topic will be Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine and Travel - 50 & Beyond. The latter is a quarterly magazine devoted exclusively to senior/retirees travel. Both of these periodicals contain terrific recommendations and tips on all types of travel. You should also periodically check out the blog of the Frugal Traveler. (http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/). Matt Gross, a columnist for the New York Times, updates this site frequently with helpful, money-saving tips and real life travel adventures.
As retired Boomers, our travel goal, as a minimum, should be to take one mini-vacation per month -- just 3 or 4 days, maybe a pleasant drive to someplace new--, and two 2-week vacations (summer and winter?) per year. We all need time off to maintain body and soul. To be able to afford this you should look into joining a travel club or travel business (see below). Check out our RETIREMENT INCOME page for help on earning extra money to make this happen.
We have one recommendation for on-line travel booking. Try www.Kayak.com. What we like about Kayak is that they do a comparison of six different travel web sites: "Hotwire," "Hotels.com," "Priceline," "Expedia," and "Travelocity." Makes it easy to see what the "big guys" are offering. And now Kayak is available as a free application ("app") on your Apple iPhone. (What? You don't have an iPhone yet? See our SOCIAL NETWORKING page for info on this indispensable retirement tool). With this app you can make/change hotel and air reservations and compare prices using your cell phone.
Airlines Over-Booking (The Associated Press, by David Koenig, 08/02,2009) "Last year, more than 63,000 passengers were bumped, according to government figures." While Congress is still grappling with a Travelers Bill of Rights, new recommendations have gone out on the subject of airlines over-booking. "The federal government sets rules on bumping and occasionally fines airlines for breaking them. This month, the Transportation Department fined Delta Air Lines, $375,000... If you are bumped from a domestic flight, the airline must pay you the price of a one-way ticket up to $400 cash if you are rescheduled t reach your destination between one and two hours of the original arrival time. The maximum doubles to $800 if it takes longer."
If you're travel plans are not time critical, you may want to haggle with the ticket agent to get a better deal, like maybe a first-class upgrade on that next flight. "Chris McGinnis, a travel consultant in San Francisco, says the best flights to haggle over are late-afternoon or evening ones popular with business travelers who can't afford to be stranded overnight. Airlines are likely to offer more for passengers who give up a seat on a New York-Chicago run than on a flight full of vacationers from Atlanta to Orlando, he says. Wait until departure time nears. The bidding bets stronger."
"While there are federal rules on bumping, there is no sweeping requirement for airlines to provide hotel rooms and meals for passengers who are stranded overnight, even if it's the carrier's fault, according to the Transportation Department. But you can haggle. It's up to the discretion of the carrier and the (gate) agent, says George Hobica, who operates airfarewatchdog.com. When a long delay appears obvious, you should ask to be rebooked on another airline."
It helps if you can find out the reason for the delay. If it's caused by the airline, and not weather, for example, the airline has a responsibility to "accommodate you within reason." You can ask for a refund, but the airlines have no requirement to do so.
TIP: The iPhone has a couple hundred Aps for travelers. You can get text and voice-based travel guides and language translators for just about anywhere. For airline info, "FlightTrack" and "Flight Update" (both $4.99) give real-time status for all airlines anywhere in the world. Check out both of them. And "Kayak" (free) allows you to make or change airline or hotel reservations world-wide.
Primary Magazine References we'll be using for this topic are: