Affordable Travel Ideas

Senior citizen tours in Tennessee, youth hostels, and Puerto Rican vacation centers are a few of the affordable travel ideas profiled here.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
September/October 1980
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Youth hostels have their own unique ambiance, and are in fact open to all ages.

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Labor Day marks the end of the traditional tourist season and the beginning of a period when many travel bargains become available! And, of course, in addition to such seasonal savings opportunities, there are special offerings—available year round—that can help you create a delightful budget vacation.

A September "Senior Citizen" Tour

Tennessee, for example, has recently launched a month-long promotion aimed at attracting travelers 55 years of age and older. Almost every tourist business in the state is taking part, offering September specials (to members of the "select" age group only) that include discount admission prices to various attractions, free coffee or continental breakfasts at many restaurants, a waiver of cover charges at some of Nashville's nightclubs, and free bait at selected Tennessee fishing lake resorts! Campgrounds, auto rental companies, houseboat rental operations, and theme parks will also participate.

Furthermore, a special Greyhound "Senior Citizen Pass" will permit unlimited bus travel within the Volunteer State during the entire month (for those 55 and older). And Ozark Airlines offers a 50% discount fare—for persons over 60 years old—on flights to Nashville from Tampa, Florida.

Hospitable Youth Hostels

Probably no organization is so misnamed as the American Youth Hostel ... because—this network of money-saving accommodations ($3.00 to $5.00 a night) is open to travelers of any age. To take advantage of the comfortable and economical facilities, one need only show a membership card (they can be obtained from American Youth Hostels, Inc.). The cost is $14 for most adults and $7.00 for those under 18, or over 60, years old. (Further savings can be realized if you buy a three-year membership, a family membership, or a lifetime membership.)

While there are currently 240 youth hostels operating in the U.S.—ranging from a 65-bed former lifesaving station in Nantucket, Massachusetts to a 150-bed converted military facility in San Francisco—the American Youth Hostel Act of 1980 (which has passed the House, but is currently stalled in the Senate) will, if it becomes law, expand the system to create a national chain of clean, inexpensive lodgings accessible by foot, bicycle, and public transportation.

A Tropical Treat

At Puerto Rico's centros vacacionales (vacation centers)—the equivalent of U.S. national parks—you can wake up in your guest cottage to the sounds of the sea, amble out to play a few sets of tennis, and then enjoy a dip in the pool or a run on the beach ... all for $12 to $15 a night for the entire family! 

The accommodations consist of prefabricated cabins with two bedrooms—one with a double bed and the other with two double-deckers—that are capable of sleeping six people. Each cabin also has a kitchen-living area with an electric stove and refrigerator, and a shower-equipped bathroom. (Linen and cooking utensils can be rented for a small fee.) All the centros have their own markets, too, where food can be purchased at modest prices ... and nearby restaurants that offer authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.

There are three vacation centers in operation today, and they're located in some of the island's loveliest spots: Boqueron, Maricao, and Humacao. (A fourth facility in Arroyo, on the southeastern coastline should be ready by the end of the year, and another on Vieques Island will open within two years.)

To obtain more information, contact to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

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