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Deep discounts for travelers

Created date

February 2nd, 2009

Good news about the economy is hard to come by these days. But there is one silver lining for retirees planning to spend more of their free time vacationing. Experts say the hard-hit travel industry is clamoring for customers, making this year an ideal time to see the world.

"2009 is going to be the year of the deal, and people who have the income to travel should really take advantage of that," says Jennifer Gaines, contributing editor to the popular budget travel site Travelocity.com.

Even luxury lodging

Gaines says hotel occupancy rates are down, so even luxury lodging is deeply discounted. She says there are also great deals to be found on airfare, especially for people who are flexible with travel dates.

"Analysts projected fares would be up 15% to 20% over last year, and that is just not what we re seeing," Gaines says.

Now is the perfect time to escape winter weather with a beach vacation. Gaines says tropical destinations like Puerto Vallarta, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Acapulco are "great values" for your money.

Frommer s advice

Pauline Frommer has been traveling with her father Arthur Frommer, author of the eponymous travel guide books, since she was four months old. The younger Frommer is the creator of her own budget travel series, and she says that right now "you can t book travel without getting a deal."

Frommer says U.S. hot spots including Las Vegas, Hawaii, and Orlando, are excellent places to land a deal. She says you can get a hotel room on the strip in Vegas for as little as $35 a night. And the "Sin City" bargains don t end there. Premier restaurants, tickets to shows, and even casinos are less expensive than ever before, Frommer says.

"Major destinations are doing everything they can to entice visitors to come," she says.

If sunning yourself on the deck of a ship with a daiquiri in hand sounds good to you, Frommer says now is the perfect time to book a cruise.

"Cruising has become particularly a good value because when times were good, the major cruise lines each ordered massive new ships and they are being delivered right now," Frommer says. "There is going to be 7% more capacity in 2009."

To get the most bang for your buck on the high seas, Frommer advises consulting a cruise specialist and planning your own land excursions instead of opting for the pricy packages offered by the cruise lines.

Another budget-friendly travel option for older adults is the increasingly popular Elderhostel, a nonprofit that organizes educational trips for people over age 55. For example, Frommer says, Elderhostel might offer a week-long stay in Chicago where participants learn how to paint by day at The Art Institute and take in the city s sights at night.

"You can pay as little as $40 a day for these adventures, including meals and lodging, and it s a great experience," she says.

But, Frommer offers one bit of caution for travelers in today s turbulent economy get travel insurance. With travel companies at high risk for bankruptcy, Frommer says it s important to protect your trip with comprehensive insurance.

Meghan.Streit@erickson.com

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