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Senior Budget Travel in Europe

By Arnie Wills

Europe budget airline, Ryanair
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 most significant money outlay—and, 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 $800 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 without the crowds and high costs of museums, concerts, theater, and language courses. Hotels and all-inclusive packages were 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, you’ll find airlines 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 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. For instance, a few museums and archeological sites are discounted in Greece. In Austria, discounts vary from museum to site; 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 goes—no hard and fast specifics. Before you go, see what discount cards are available with a simple Google search for free or offer reduced rates to attractions in the areas you'll be visiting.

The point is that discounts are everywhere in Europe. They're often available for movies, theaters, museums, tours, local sightseeing, historic buildings, hotels, restaurants, and car rentals. The main rule to remember is that if you think you may qualify for a discount on anything, ask. They're not apt to volunteer the offer—any more than they do in your hometown. Regarding 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 you'll often feel like one of the family.

In addition, Airbnb allows an easy way to surf for comfortable accommodations, often allowing seniors to stay in furnished apartments and homes at a low rate during the shoulder or low seasons. 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. See Budget Vacation Rentals in Europe: Travel at Your Own Pace for more info on this great alternative.

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 driver's 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 they're valid.

Budget 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 excellent rates, often far better than traveling by the comfortable and excellent trains with discounts for seniors (which are also a great option to visit smaller towns). See A Guide to Budget Airlines in Europe for more detailed information on why air travel in Europe is now relatively cheap.

Ryanair is Europe's most popular airline. It provides flights to over 220 destinations in 40 countries and offers some of the lowest prices in Europe.

British Airways offers budget flights for seniors going all over the globe.

Air France: Senior Pass offers budget flight discounts for those over 65+ to many countries in Europe.

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