Tips from Samantha Brown, AARP's travel ambassador:
En español | 1. For cheaper flights, look to the earliest and latest flights of the day.
2. For weekend travel, stay in a business hotel. The road warriors are gone and so are the high prices. These hotels will be in the business district — which isn't always the most vibrant part of town — but that's a small trade-off if you're getting a good deal.
3. Avoid conventions. Cities such as Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Orlando have the best hotel rates when conventions are not in town. Check out a city's official tourism website under Convention Calendar to spot the best times for a visit.
4. Head to ski resorts in the summer and beach locations in late August or early September.
Tips from Rick Steves, author of European guidebooks and host of TV travel shows:
6. When abroad, use your debit card at ATMs to withdraw local currency from your home bank account. You can keep fees down by making fewer and larger withdrawals. If your U.S. bank has a partner in Europe, use their ATMs for the best rates.
7. If you are taking your smartphone or tablet to Europe, buy an international phone/data package before you leave to prevent costly roaming charges. Short-term plans generally start at $25-$30 and can save you hundreds of dollars.
8. Use your age. Seniors traveling by train can find ticket deals, most of which require a discount card purchased at train stations in Europe (discounts start between ages 60 and 67). Senior discounts at museums are generally available only to European citizens, but it's always worth asking.
9. Europe's cheapest beds are in hostels. Several thousand hostels provide beds throughout Europe for $20-$40 per night. They are not limited to youths. In fact, those over 55 get a discount on hostel membership cards.
10. Every country has its equivalent of the hot dog stand, where you can grab a filling and inexpensive bite — French crêperies, Greek souvlaki stands, Danish pølse (sausage) vendors, Italian pizza rustica takeout shops and Dutch herring carts.
11. Avoid costly currency conversion. Some European merchants and ATMs capitalize on the fact that Americans can be intimidated by foreign currencies. If a merchant or ATM offers to convert euros to dollars while running your card transaction, refuse — you'll be paying a premium for the conversion.
12. Don't overtip. Service is often included at restaurants. If it isn't, a tip of 5 to 10 percent is the norm in Europe. For taxis, round up to the next euro on the fare.
13. When choosing a restaurant, look for a place away from the high-rent squares. It will serve what's seasonal and target locals rather than tourists.
14. Waiting in lines can waste hours of vacation time. Most lines are avoidable with planning — visit at off hours, use museum passes that skip lines, or make reservations.
Also of Interest
- Consumer spending mistakes and regrets
- Fitness fads that boomers loved and left
- Find great volunteer opportunities in your community
Join AARP Today — Receive access to exclusive information, benefits and discounts