Travel discounts for seniors are there for the asking
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One of the best deals for seniors right now is the Eastern Airlines ``Get Up and Go Passport.'' For $1,299 you can take a trip each week within the US for a year. The primary holder must be 65 or over. (There are some restrictions; you must travel Monday through Thursday, for instance.) Another $200 will add the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica. Some hotels offer 50 percent off to ``Passport'' holders; these include Howard Johnsons, Holiday Inn, Hilton International, Vista International, Omni, and Marriott.Skip to next paragraph
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TWA has a similar program, called the VSP Senior Pass. Those 65 and over can purchase unlimited coach travel for a year for $1,199 (add $449 for transatlantic travel). Again, a companion pass can be purchased for the same price. There are some restrictions; you can't travel during peak holiday periods or weekends.
Amtrak offers discounts for seniors: 25 percent off round-trip fares if you're 65 or older. This fare is not applicable during peak dates and is ``comparable,'' a spokesman said, to the regular excursion rates. Amtrak also offers a ``family plan'': One adult pays full fare; spouse and children 12 to 21 pay half; and children 2 to 11 are quarter fare. This plan is good every day.
A popular plan not exclusively for seniors but which might work well for them is Amtrak's All Aboard America fare (on sale through Nov. 15). In this plan, the US is divided into three parts: Western, Central, and Eastern. A 30-day round trip taken within one region costs $150; this could take you from Montreal to Miami, for instance. Two adjoining regions cost $250; all three, $325. You are allowed a total of three stopovers.
Trailways and Greyhound offer a 10 percent discount off standard rates for those 65 and over. (Trailways makes it 15 percent for AARP members.) Bed and breakfast
A new organization, now in its second year, is the Evergreen Club, for those 50 and over. A division of American Bed & Breakfast, it is intended for those who would like to offer a room in their home to members at minimum cost. Hosts, in turn, can take advantage of this service when traveling themselves.
It is not a moneymaking operation (the honorarium is $10 for one person, $15 for a couple), nor is it merely a less expensive way of traveling; the emphasis is on meeting congenial people in one's own age group in various parts of the US.
It costs $20 a year to be a host member; this gets you a copy of the directory, plus quarterly updates. There are a limited number of associate memberships, for those who are unable to be hosts; these cost $35 a year.
Write to the club at PO Box 44094, Washington, D.C. 20026 and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. National parks
A Golden Age Passport, a free lifetime entrance permit to parks, monuments, and recreation areas administered by the US government, is available to those 62 and older. These may be obtained at all National Park Service and Forest Service headquarters and federally operated recreation areas, where they can be used. (You must appear in person.) It will admit the passport holder and a carload of accompanying passengers. This program is particularly attractive now that there is discussion of raising park users' fees. Outside the US
In most European countries, seniors can get a 50 percent discount on train fares; ages to qualify vary.
France's Carte Vermeil, a railway discount card, also gives reductions on entry to all museums. Get it from the French National Railroad office in New York or at railroad stations in France. Bottom age limit: 65 for men, 62 for women.
The Swiss Hotel Association has a brochure called ``Season for Seniors,'' listing hotels that offer discounts ranging between 10 and 30 percent to senior citizens. Copies may be obtained from the Swiss National Tourist Office, 608 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10020.