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Frequent flyer gives tips for seniors

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By Myscha Theriault
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Published:'s Evelyn Hannon has been traveling solo for 30 years, and has learned a thing or two about senior travel.
At 72, she tackles travel adventures many would hesitate to embrace. In three decades, Hannon has weathered a three-month Semester at Sea voyage with 750 students, performed as a film extra in Hong Kong, interviewed an African chief in Ghana and herded cows in Gruyere.
Here are her top tips for affordable senior travel.
Discounts: Hannon celebrates her seniority by enjoying all of the discounts it brings her way. A major source of these discounts is her AARP membership. That's right, folks. Retirement discounts aren't just for Denny's anymore.
Hannon leverages the senior savings allowed with her AARP card to receive reduced pricing on everything from trains, hotels and even hostels. Another area of vacation savings this journey woman leverages heavily is the flexibility that comes with no longer having to work for a boss.
She gets more bang for her buck by selecting shoulder season vacations and flying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when fares are generally lower.
Fitness: Pounding the pavement for the perfect travel photo might be frugal, but it's still hard work for any traveler. Hannon gets ready for adventure in advance by increasing her daily walking schedule for several weeks before she departs. That way, she knows she'll be ready for all of the extra sightseeing on her travel itinerary.
When traveling to Asia however, she recommends throwing in some extra thigh-muscle exercises: "You'll need them for all of the squat toilets you'll encounter."
Concerned about lifting that luggage? Packing light is Hannon's solution. "I travel to observe rather than to be observed. That means packing a very small, simple wardrobe in neutral colors." She also favors using a small suitcase on wheels over lugging a huge backpack.
Activities: Rather than using her vacation dollars to stay at expensive resorts only to lounge by the pool and eat huge meals every night, she enjoys putting her talents to use helping others. Many areas of need are in countries where travel costs are quite cheap, enabling you to stay a bit longer.
"An older adult who has practiced medicine, nursing or engineering all of their working life can bring those precious skills to a volunteer organization like Cross Cultural Solutions or Habitat for Humanity in developing countries around the world," Hannon says.
When asked why she doesn't choose vacations her peers would consider more age appropriate, Hannon responds, "In travel, age is just a number and not important unless you are cheese."
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of, a website for independent travelers. She also founded, a website for teachers.
Story tags » Travel

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