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Travel Tips

How Anyone Can Use AARP to Save on Travel, Even If You Aren't Retired

Margaret Littman

Margaret Littman

April 4, 2024

8 min read

Table of Contents

In the spring of 2022, it seemed like everyone was hopping on a plane. (Others called it “revenge travel.” I just called it “happy to be out of the house.”) A friend whom I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic and I decided to spend a weekend in Charleston. We wanted to eat our way through the city, see the ocean, take some architecture tours, and catch up and hang out.

Everyone else had the same idea at the same time. Azaleas were in bloom. Rental cars were scarce, and hotels were overbooked. After being surprised by rates that were out of our budget, I logged in to AARP’s Travel Center and found a deal at Emeline, a design-forward boutique hotel in Charleston’s historic district. I snagged a car rental, too. They were both such a bargain, I double-checked that they were for real. 

I hesitated to tell my friend how I booked the room—I didn’t want her to think we were “old,” by getting help from AARP. But she couldn’t deny it: Our South Carolina getaway weekend was saved.

What is AARP? 

In the late 1940s, a retired school principal named Ethel Percy Andrus (in fact, the first female high school principal in California) saw that her peers needed health insurance. Medicare didn’t kick in until age 65, and those who retired before that age had few health insurance options and small pensions to pay for healthcare out of pocket. She started advocating for them, reaching out to insurance companies to see who would cover these retirees as a group during the pre-Medicare gap.

She was successful, and eventually, in 1958, the organization she founded became the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The organization has gone through many changes since then. Now, the acronym stands alone as its name as the group’s scope has broadened. But Andrus’s vision of an advocate for senior citizens remains. 

Today, AARP is a non-partisan 501(c) (4) non-profit. It advocates for people over the age of 50 on topics such as Medicare and Social Security and has lobbyists who raise those issues in Washington, DC.  State offices disseminate local information on health, safety, and politics. In addition, AARP shares information with its members through events, a magazine, an app, its website, and newsletters, covering everything from retirement planning to choosing a new puppy, and even provides entertainment, such as free movie screenings. 

Who can join AARP? 

AARP has more than 38 million members. Anyone ages 18 and older can join, although the organization is focused on peopl ages 50 and older. One way you’ll know that your 50th birthday is imminent is you’ll get a red and white membership solicitation in the mail. 

While anyone can join, those between the ages of 18 and 50 may not be eligible for all the discounts offered (such as those relating to insurance and others with third-party requirements). Those under 50 do not receive AARP magazine.

How much is AARP membership? 

To welcome you into the fold, annual membership is $12 for the first year (if you sign up for automatic renewal) and $16 a year after that. Lower rates are available if you choose a longer period: $43 for three years or $63 for five years. Black Friday and other specials occasionally lower the price further. Military service members and veterans are eligible for a 43% discount.

Members ages 50 and older are eligible for a free secondary membership for any other adult in their house.

AARP travel benefits and discounts

AARP members receive a host of different benefits and discounts, from small savings on retail gift cards to health insurance to resume services, cell phone services, and online games. All of those benefits are separate from AARP travel perks, which are offered on a separate travel center website (with a separate log-in) administered by Expedia. 

Many of the discounts and offerings change frequently, so it is worth checking back often, particularly if you are planning a big-ticket trip. While most of the travel partners stay consistent, the rates of discounts vary based on peak periods and availability, just like all travel deals. Some discounts are flagged with expiration dates, such as British Airways, but for the most part, those are renewed from year to year. There are no guarantees in life or in travel, though, so if you see a great deal that works for you, book it!

Some of the discounts are similar to modest deals you can get with AAA and other memberships or by searching various online sites. It is handy to have it all in one place, and the perks for packages (for booking hotel, car, and flights at the same time) are unusual. Typically, lower AARP rates cannot be combined with other discounts, so you won’t stack multiple discounts to snag a free trip. The website allows you to search for last-minute deals, finding even lower discounts (often an additional 10%) for trips within the next two weeks.

In addition to the cents off, AARP is an advocate for its members, so if there is a problem with a booking, you can get a live person to sort things out. A dedicated phone number, 800-675-4318, connects members to the Travel Center. When I needed to change my South Carolina car rental to a one-way trip so I could add a roadtrip to Greenville, it was an easy modification.

Once you get where you are going, you may also find AARP discounts on tickets for shows through Ticketmaster, as well as discounted gift cards and meals at some chain restaurants. 



Best Western Hotels and Resorts

Best Western hotels and their related brands—including BW Premier Collection, Executive Residency by Best Western, Glo, SureStay Collection by Best Western, SureStay Hotel by Best Western, and Vib—offer 5% or more off the best available room rate. These brands include more than 4,000 hotels. AARP members who are also Best Western Rewards members 10% more bonus points on each stay.

Choice Hotels

AARP members receive a 10% discount at brands under the Choice brand umbrella, including Ascend Hotel Collection, Cambria Hotels, Clarion, Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, Econo Lodge, Quality Inn, Radisson, Radisson BluRodeway Inn, Sleep Inn, and others.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Nab up to 10% off rooms at this collection of brands, including Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Tru by Hilton, and Waldorf Astoria. In addition to the discounted rate, members can request lake checkout until 2pm at no additional fee. AARP members who are Hilton Honors members earn points as usual on the discounted room, which is not always the case when booking through a third-party site.

Motel 6

AARP members can save 10% off the best available rate at the chain that claims to “leave a light on for you.” Request a late check out until 2pm at no additional fee.

Red Roof Inn

Save 10% off the best available room rate with an AARP membership Red Roof Inn, Red Roof PLUS+, Hometowne Studios by Red Roof, and The Red CollectionMembers also receive one free bottle of water per room at check-in.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

Brands under the Wyndham umbrella—including AmericInn, Baymont, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, La Quinta, Microtel, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wyndham, and others—offer 10% discounts to AARP members.

All Resort Store

Find discounts of 10%-25% off on all-inclusive resort packages. Booking online requires setting up an account with All Resort Store.

Car Rentals

Avis and Budget

These car rental companies offer 30% off the base rate plus a number of other benefits, such as free upgrades, discount credits on future rentals, and additional drivers at no extra cost. An additional $15 off is available for three-day rentals that are paid in advance. In my experience, they also may have cars available through the Travel Center when direct booking flags locations as sold out.


AARP members receive 5% of the off of base rates, plus a free upgrade.


AARP members can choose car sharing, rather than traditional rentals, with $20 off an annual Zipcar membership.

Airport parking

Park Ride Fly offers 12% off parking reservations at 50 different locations across the country. Most reservations include airport shuttles and luggage assistance. 

Trains, tours, and cruises


Collette Cruise Tours

Receive $50 - $100 off per person on river cruises in China, Egypt, and Norway.

Grand European Travel 

AARP members are eligible for up to $100 off per person on luxury river cruises in Europe, Egypt, and Asia.

Holland American Line

AARP Members who book Princess Cruises, Holland America, and Celebrity Cruises will find limited-time discounted offers on specific routes for specific dates. In addition, AARP members receive a $200 onboard credit.

Hurtigruten Expeditions 

The cruise line offers 5% off cruises plus a €100 per-person onboard credit to AARP members and non-members who book with the member. Hurtigruten discounts and offers are stackable.

Vacation By Rail 

Snag 5% off on more than 40 rail and cruise combination trips to National Parks, Alaska, Canada, and elsewhere in the U.S.


Through a partnership with AARDY, a travel insurance marketplace, members can compare discounted rates on different travel insurance policies in the U.S.

AARP members receive 20% off memberships to Medijet, which provides hospital-of-choice medical transfers when you are 150 miles or more from home. Services include transport and evacuation services.

Flight and vacation packages through British Airways

Book a flight on British Airways and receive $65 off a round-trip economy flight (not applicable to basic economy rates) or $200 off a round-trip business class ticket.

Most deals Going finds are bookable directly on the airline. So, when Going sends you an alert about a deal on British Airways, you can save a little bit more by booking directly with British Airways to get that AARP discount. 

It also pays to plan ahead. Members who purchase everything all at the same time, be that a flight and a hotel room, a flight, and a car rental, or all three together, receive a $50 gift card to select merchants.

Passport and visa services

AARP members can purchase passport renewal bundles that include shipping and government fees. Special pricing and expedited services through Rush My Passport are available for all passport types, including renewals, name changes, passport cards, travel visas, and other services. This is handy if you need to expedite processing for an upcoming trip. This benefit also applies to members' family members. 

How AARP discounts work

Most of the travel discounts are accessed through the AARP Travel Center website, which is operated by Expedia. Limited-time and special offers relating to travel may also be posted on the AARP website or in the app and then are booked or redeemed through a third-party site, some of which require a promo code. Logging into the AARP Travel Center requires an AARP membership number. Reservations can be made by calling 800-675-4318, although it can be harder to browse options over the phone.

Members may need to show their AARP membership card on check in to verify the discount. AARP provides digital cards for those who don’t want to carry a physical card.

Frequently asked questions about AARP Travel

Is AARP worth it for travel?
Thanks to a low annual membership fee and many available small discounts, AARP can be worth it for travel for those who like to bargain-hunt as part of their vacation planning.
How to join AARP?
To join AARP, sign up for a membership on the website or call 866-654-5572.
How old do you have to be to join AARP?
Anyone over 18 can join AARP for an annual membership, but most of the benefits are targeted to those over 50.
How do you get discounts with AARP?
To get the travel discounts offered to AARP members, log in to the AARP travel-specific website operated by Expedia. You can also call 800-675-4318 to access the discounts available to AARP members. Some other limited-time offers are available through the AARP website and app.


AARP members receive modest discounts on many aspects of travel, from hotels to car rentals to passport expediting, all accessible from the same website. AARP’s low-cost membership fee makes it relatively easy to earn back the cost. Unlike booking through some other third-party sites, it is still possible to earn reward program points, though some discounts may be subject to some blackout periods.

The bottom line: Even if you aren’t yet in the typical AARP demographic, the annual membership can pay for itself with the discounts available. And pair it with a Going membership that helps you save on flights, and you could be traveling a lot more this year for less. 

Margaret Littman

Margaret Littman

Freelance Writer

Published April 4, 2024

Last updated April 4, 2024

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