By Kathy Gaillard
Across the country, people can’t stop talking about the cold temperatures and unprecedented snowfall totals. At one point, 49 states in the U.S. had snow. Moreover, meteorologists report that as of mid-February Milwaukee had recorded 51.1 inches of snowfall since Dec. 1, 2013—about 20 inches more than the normal for the period, and winter is not over!
Cold weather and snow come with the territory for Midwesterners, but at some point, enough is enough! Besides the gray snow and freezing temperatures, by the end of February and early March many people start getting cabin fever.
The cold and snow can be especially harsh for individuals who are 50 and older. While the tendency is sometimes to just hunker down and ride out the cold weather, the Aging and Disability Resource Center said that it is important to make sure seniors get enough exercise, especially when it is harder to leave the house in the cold weather. Moreover, since 55 is the new 40, more and more individuals 50 and over are not only getting enough exercise, but they are discovering creative ways to escape the cold weather for sunny respites. While certainly not everyone can afford to be a snowbird (northerners who move to warmer southern states in the winter), there are some inexpensive ways to travel to combat cabin fever.
Nettie Perry, a Milwaukee-based travel agent for Xstream Travel, said that a number of low-cost getaways are available this time of year, if you are willing to scour the internet to find them, or you save time by having an experienced agent do the work for you through www.travel-coach.paycationonline.com.
“Whether you want to go to Las Vegas or one of the southern climates, there are plenty of getaway packages that offer three to four nights for under $500, especially if you are able or willing to fly out of Chicago,” said Perry. Everyone loves a deal and one of the perks of getting up in age are discounts!
Winter getaways provide a prime opportunity to take advantage of some of the great travel deals, vacation packages, weekend getaways and discounts. Moreover, with some 75 million baby boomers entering into retirement, winter is a great time to let the good times roll and might be just what the doctor ordered to get you out of the winter doldrums! As you plan your getaway, consider signing up for www.Groupon.com. Groupon can be a money saver, no matter where you live. On a daily basis, Groupon emails deals for everything from restaurants to spas to leisure events in your city or the city you are visiting. If you like the offer, you can sign up and if enough people sign up to justify the special price being offered, you get the discount price. For example, you may receive a special offer from a local restaurant offering $15 worth of food for only $7 through Groupon. The idea is that when people put their collective buying power together everyone wins—the businesses and you.
Chill on a Cruise
In the cruise industry individuals 55 years of age or older usually qualify for discount travel. Many cruise lines offer discounts to senior citizens during select sailing dates. Among the cruise lines that offer discounts are Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean. One advantage of senior citizen discounts on cruises is that not only the senior citizens themselves get the discounts, but if at least one person in the room is an eligible senior citizen, the second passenger may also get the discount! Upon boarding the ship, the qualifying senior citizen will have to show valid, government issued, photo identification for proof of age.
If you are a part of a group of senior citizens, consider pooling resources to take a cruise or land vacation together. Typically, the more people you can get to accompany you on a cruise, the deeper the discount. To qualify as a group most travel agencies request that at least 16 people be in the group, with at least two people in each room.
Jaunt Over to Vegas
Remember what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! And, even though Las Vegas can be a very expensive town, there are several places that seniors can go for a fun and inexpensive getaway. Many of the casinos offer discounts on buffets for seniors and several downtown casinos offer cheap gambling.
According to Perry, one person can travel to Vegas for a three-night and four-day stay for just under $500. This includes airfare and hotel. And, with so many Vegas venues offering discounts to senior citizens, it is possible to spend as little as $600 for this quick getaway. Vegas has a host of cafes and coffee shops where seniors can grab quick, inexpensive meals. Some hotels have 24-hour cafes serving up scrumptious meals at great prices, among them are the Café at Harrah’s which offers more than 100 menu items, making it possible for everyone to find something they like. It is also the perfect breakfast spot for early risers. When it comes to gambling or choosing a hotel, many of the hotels located on the strip offer great rates and less expensive gambling options. Penny slots and bingo machines are everywhere in Las Vegas if you know where to look (if you don’t, ask somebody!). Hotels like Red Rock and Sunset Station all have great bingo parlors.
Sun in Sedona
Sedona, Arizona has become a vacation destination favorite, particularly for older adults. According to prices on www.travelcoach.paycationonline.com , a three-night trip, including airfare (from Chicago) and hotel stay costs only $420. Sedona is a beautiful year-round, with average temperatures in the mid-60s during March. The most popular seasons are March through May and September through mid-December. While hotel rates are slightly lower in July and August, the most economical prices of year are available from the first week of January through mid-February.
Go to the Beach— In South Carolina
At Myrtle Beach Resort Vacations, senior citizens (over 55 years old) receive a 10% Discount on most daily and weekly rates for condominiums rented. During the winter months, seniors can save almost 21% on Monthly Winter Rates by taking advantage of the resort’s "The longer you stay, the less you pay!" plan.
Get on the Bus!
While inclement weather may quash this option, the bus offers a great, economical alternative for senior citizens who cannot safely or comfortable drive. It can also be convenient, especially if you want to fly out of a major hub like Chicago—take the bus to the airport! You can also travel south and enjoy the trip by taking bus that offers many amenities and luxuries and not be stressed with driving. Websites such as www.Boltbus.com or www.Megabus.com offer cheap seats (some fares are as low as $1) and other amenities such as Wi-Fi, extra leg room, plug-ins, reserved seating, handicapped accessible. (Note: I did a search and found one fare from Washington, D.C. to New York for $11!) Wherever you decide to go or whatever you decide to do, do your homework, find a getaway that meets your needs and enjoy some much deserved ‘down’ time in the sun while combating cabin fever.