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Bargains for Travelers over 50:

Empty nesters, retirees, and busy baby boomers can all take advantage of travel deals to plan a great getaway. If you’re over age 50, there’s a bargain for you.

National Parks. The America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Senior Pass. For $10, U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can get a lifetime pass to any federal recreation site, which admits the pass holder and all car passengers in for free. It also provides a 50 percent discount on some fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, and boating. The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. Visit www.nps.gov for more details.

Educational Tours. Don’t let the name fool you – Elderhostel offers nearly 8000 educational tours in all 50 states and in 90 countries around the world. Their Web site, www.elderhostel.org, showcases many tours under $600 including:

* A three-night Napa Valley winery trip

* A five-night service trip in Maryland to help build a Heifer Global Village

* A one-night Dine Like a Critic experience in Cambridge, MA

* A three-day digital photography class in Raquette Lake, New York

Cruises. There are cruise deals aplenty these days. Talking with a travel agent and searching online can turn up some significant savings. If you are interested in a specialty cruise for seniors only, visit www.cruisecompete.com, a cost comparison site. Searching under the seniors category will list offerings from various cruise lines and lets you compare features and pricing. Cruises for the end of 2009 and well into 2010 are listed.

Active Vacations. If sitting around the pool is too tame for you, look into the many active vacations available. The travel site www.away.com lists the Top 10 Active Baby Boomer Vacations. Affordable options include biking in Vermont, birding in Alaska,trekking the Appalachian Trail in Maine, horseback riding in Wyoming, hiking in Colorado.

There is also Passport in Time, a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program of the USDA Forest Service. Work with professional archaeologists and historians on archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. You must submit an application, be chosen, and be ready to pitch a tent or pay for accommodations nearby. Find out more at www.passportintime.com.

General Money-Saving Tips

* Joining AARP nets discounts on hotels, rental cars, vacation packages and more. At www.aarp.org, they also have a Trend Tracker that lets you evaluate the least expensive hotel and flight prices for the time of year you want to travel.

* Combining air fare, hotel and rental car costs under a package deal can often save quite a bit of money. Do some homework, however, and compare the package price with the total cost of booking each element separately to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

* Sign up for promotional emails from several hotel, airline and travel sites, such as www.expedia.com, www.orbitz.com and www.travelocity.com. You’ll receive alerts on special promotions and fare reductions. Sites such as www.transitionsabroad.com have helpful travel tips and resources that can save you time and money.

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