Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

AARP Member Discounts – A 50th Birthday Present

by Suzanne Fluhr on May 16, 2015 · 51 comments

Because sometimes you need a rainbow, butterfly, unicorn kitten

Because sometimes you need a rainbow, butterfly, unicorn kitten

Actually, some rainbow, butterfly, unicorn kittens swoop down when you turn 50.

Like many Baby Boomers, I was a little taken aback around my 50th birthday when I received my invitation to join AARP (formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons). However, I soon realized that eligibility for AARP membership did not mean I was old retired. Consistent with Mr. Excitement’s sometimes annoying philosophy that life’s lemons are provided to afford us the opportunity to make lemonade, I learned that AARP membership allowed me to take advantage of discounts on a raft of useful products and services available from AARP partner companies. AARP monitors and does quality control of these products and services through its wholly owned, for profit subsidiary, AARP Services, Inc. There is indeed power in numbers. If our generation is going to have to take the rap for bankrupting Social Security, Medicare and yada, yada, yada, we might as well get some discounts too. 😉

gypsy nesters sky diving

My friend Veronica of the Gypsy Nesters thinks travel should include fear conquering. (Personally, I believe she is misguided.)

If you’ve done any traveling lately, you know that Baby Boomers are well represented in all sorts of travel, from demanding adventure hikes in remote areas of the globe, to luxury cruises and everything in between—like our recent small group tour in Turkey with  G Adventures. Moreover, we’re still wanderlusting. A recent AARP survey found we plan to travel even more in 2015, with the average 50+ respondent saying they plan on taking 4 to 5 trips this year.

Along with the fun of planning vacation travel, many Baby Boomers are aware it is prudent for us to also plan to cover the more unpleasant possibilities that can occur when we travel. Unlike our teenage and Millennial children who sometimes display magical thinking by believing that bad things will not happen to them, most of us have experienced first hand that even the best laid plans can go awry.

The more I travel, the more educated I have become about the possible perils we may confront, but I’ve also learned about some reasonable solutions to reduce the angst.

  • Medical Evacuation Insurance:  Unbeknownst to many, most United States based health insurance plans and even dedicated travel insurance policies will only cover medical evacuation to the nearest medical facility capable of providing the necessary evaluation, treatment and care. They typically do not cover the potentially enormous cost of medical evacuation to the hospital of your choice, usually one close to family in the United States. A travel blogger friend, Patti Morrow, discovered this the hard way when she was forced to spend 7 weeks hospitalized in South Africa after suffering severe injuries in a car accident. Conversely, when another travel blogger friend, Donna Hull, herniated a spinal disc in Switzerland, she had dedicated medical evacuation coverage and was able to be transported home to Montana in the care of a nurse. Fortunately, MedJetAssist is an AARP Services vetted partner providing this type of medical evacuation coverage for travelers both inside and outside the United States, currently at an 18% discount for AARP members.
  • Home Protection Services: As Baby Boomers, many of us own homes or condos and have accumulated “stuff” beyond a futon and an X-Box gaming controller. There are some easy steps we can take to protect our residences during our travels, such as unplugging major electronic appliances, stopping newspaper and mail delivery, locking all doors and windows, having lights and even a TV on a timer, and alerting trusted neighbors to our absence. However, as I know from rueful experience, sometimes things go wrong despite our best planning. This is when you want to have an emergency home repair plan on speed dial. AARP Services partners with HomeServe USA to provide discounted emergency home repair plans to AARP members in most states.
  • Identity Protection: Only bring official documents you need when you travel and, if a hotel safe is available, leave them there rather than carry them around with you. Leave copies with an emergency contact at home. Notify your credit card companies and banks of your travel plans. Guard your PIN if you use an ATM and don’t use any machine that looks like it might have been tampered with. Be wary of putting your personal information in public computers as some record key strokes. If you do use a public computer, remember to log out completely. Even if you bring your own lap tap, tablet or smart phone on a trip, you will most likely be using unsecured “open” wifi networks, so try to avoid having to use these for financial transactions.

One way to obtain some piece of mind about the problem of identity theft is to purchase an identity protection plan.  AARP members are eligible for a 13 percent discount for custom ID protection through AARP Identity Theft Protection. You can include family members in this protection.

We may live in uncertain times, but my advice is to by all means—–travel on!

[Boomeresque has published this information in collaboration with AARP Services, Inc. (a/k/a AARP Member Advantages). It is all excellent advice, if I do say so myself].

Do you have any advice to share about trip preparation? Have you learned any travel preparation tips the hard way?

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqueline Gum May 17, 2015 at 6:43 am

Fortunately, I’ve not become seriously ill on any of my travels. But medical evacuation insurance is news to me! These are all great tips, but that one is very good to know! Thanks!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 17, 2015 at 5:55 pm

The main thing I learned about medical evacuation insurance is that it also covers you in the United States. After all, we live in a big country and even though you might have access to great medical care 3,000 miles from home, you probably want to be hospitalized near your home and family.

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Roz Warren May 17, 2015 at 7:38 am

I don’t travel much, but I’m happy to be an AARP member for the magazines. They publish two of them, both excellent.

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The GypsyNesters May 17, 2015 at 9:17 am

Every time we pop in to check in our AARP discounts, we find something new and useful. Thanks for sharing three that had slipped under our radar. Also, holding our newly made lemon mojitos to Mr. Excitement – cheers! Here’s to meeting you someday!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Really, lemon mojitos? If you guys and little BAMF make it to the Philly area, I’ll definitely introduce you to Mr. Excitement IRL. He’s not just an internet meme.

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Robert Fowler May 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Suzanne, we got the MedJetAssist from AARP Services since we do at least an average amount of travel. Wife has had some medical problems last year and I think it is a wise investment. Was also recommended by another travel blogger who said she had purchased it and actually had to use it, with positive results.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 17, 2015 at 11:37 pm

I’m convinced. With the amount of travel we do, I think an annual policy is what we need. MedJetAssist can also be used if one is 100 miles from home in the United States. If you live in Pennsylvania and need extended hospitalization and you’re in California, you’re going to soon want a way to get the hospital treatment you need near family and friends.

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santafetraveler May 17, 2015 at 11:51 pm

We had an ATM disaster in Mexico (I wrote a post about it and solicited other ATM travel disaster stories. Our takeaway was only use the machines while the bank is open- the bank we used had a 30-minute window to fix any issues. We got our money back but it took three weeks. Good to know about the medivac- will look into it when next we travel.

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Sue Reddel May 18, 2015 at 12:03 am

I’ve only purchased travel insurance on “big” trips your post has made me rethink that. You never know when something could go wrong. Didn’t know AARP offered that Medical Evacuation Insurance I’ll definitely check it for our next trip. Thanks for pointing it out.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 1:08 am

I liked the fact that you can also be medically evacuated in the US if necessary.

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Donna Janke May 18, 2015 at 12:30 am

These are good tips. Health insurance is so important and is a big consideration for Canadians wintering in the U.S. Another thing we’ve done in the past year to look after our house when we are away is have our alarm system monitor the inside temperature (damage can occur pretty quickly if the furnace broke in frigid winter temperatures) and monitor our sump pump. We have friends identified as local contacts should an alarm be triggered.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 2:12 am

We have a town house at the shore in South Jersey and every winter we somehow get a leak caused by frozen pipes even though we drain the pipes and insulated our crawl space under the house. Clearly, we’re doing (or not doing) something very wrong.

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jenny@atasteoftravel May 18, 2015 at 1:40 am

I can’t believe that there are still some people that travel without health insurance,. Unfortunately in Australia we don’t receive discounts for those over 50…the premiums seem to increase as our risk is supposed to increase. Medical evacuation insurance would be a great cover to have.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 2:14 am

Premiums do increase with increased risk caused by age, but the AARP “discount” helps some with that. Does Australia have a nationwide organization that addresses issues for older folks (i.e. like us)? In the US, AARP is a big umbrella organization.

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Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru May 18, 2015 at 1:58 am

Like you, I was somewhat dismayed when the literature started arriving regularly after a milestone birthday. But, not without humor in my resignation, I perused the different insurance offerings with interest and found the products fill many needs in a comprehensive and thoughtful array. However, even though the AARP bills itself as nonpartisan, I do feel it’s important to remind seniors to make sure their views align with the positions and advocacy AARP takes on. Recent activities, mostly pertaining to Obamacare, were at ideological odds with a great many of their members. AARP, through its for-profit subsidiary, heavily promoted certain of its insurance product as a solution to coverage deficits that emerged in the midst of the parent organization’s Affordable Care Act advocacy and closeness with the White House during the process. That sort of thing raises eyebrows.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 2:20 am

Betsy, it’s true that AARP.org has its points of view and is very much a lobbying organization. There is no question that AARP Services, Inc. is a for profit wholly owned subsidiary of AARP. Despite my law degree, I don’t quite “get” how a non-profit can retain its non-profit status and wholly own a “for profit” entity. However, I am quite sure I need Medical Evacuation Insurance for domestic and foreign travel—apart from any other health insurance operating under the purview of the Affordable Care Act.

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A Cook Not Mad (Nat) May 18, 2015 at 2:36 am

This is all great information, now I can’t wait to turn 50, mostly because I want to see rainbow, butterfly, unicorn kittens !!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 3:10 am

Yeah. I think you have to be 50 to see them. 🙂

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Nancie May 18, 2015 at 5:47 am

I’m not American, so I probably can’t take advantage of this ‘stuff’, or at least not through AARP. That being said I do have myself covered beyond the Korean medical insurance that I pay into through my employer. That includes evacuation insurance to Canada. Korean employers are notorious for canceling insurance the moment someone has an accident. Secondly, Korean hospitals will refuse treatment if you cannot pay. I can’t tell you how many times I have given money to teachers who have had accidents or have been diagnosed with a serious illness. Sadly, I know of more than one who has died because treatment and/or evacuation was delayed due to lack of ability to pay. Not a fun thing to think about, and I spend a lot every month to be covered. However, if something happens to me, I want to go back to Canada. 🙂

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Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields May 18, 2015 at 6:32 am

I’m pretty sure that you don’t get to be an officially retired person in Australia until you’re at least 60. Then you can apply for a ‘Seniors Card’ , which gives discounts on various things and let’s you park in car spaces with stick figures of old people painted on them. Of course by calling it the ‘Seniors Card’, the government ensures that no self respecting 60 year old will actually want to admit to having one.
All good advice from you though even for us non-Americans – thanks.

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Charles McCool May 18, 2015 at 7:16 am

Nice summary of insurance programs to consider when traveling.

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Denis Gagnon May 18, 2015 at 10:01 am

Without revealing my age, I do want to say that I have been an AARP member for many many years. I have always had a hard time finding value in the discounts offered by AARP. Perhaps I should have another look. In any case, I always buy travel insurance before an extended trip and I think that is good practice. Thanks for the posting.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Denis, medical evacuation insurance is distinct from a travel insurance policy. Most of those only provide evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical facility. They won’t get you home.

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Suzanne Stavert May 18, 2015 at 10:26 am

I didn’t know that AARP offered travel insurance. I think it is a great idea. I have always believed that when you are prepared for a mishap or challenge, nothing ever happens. I attend the 50+ event in San Diego last year, I loved it. AARP is not the AARP of the prior generation. I wrote a great post about the AARP Real Pad, did you see them at the conference?

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Suzanne, I don’t recall AARP Real Pad. I’ll take a look for it on your blog.

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noel May 18, 2015 at 11:10 am

I also chuckled about receiving my card, but have never really done anything with it or any related activities. This looks like it was a fun event!

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Carol Colborn May 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I have wanted to be a member of AARP and receive the benefits due in our wisdom years but my husband does not like the organization’s involvement in politics. Was this addressed in the meeting you attended?

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 18, 2015 at 1:43 pm

No, there was on discussion of politics. AARP Services, Inc. is owned by AARP although it is a for profit entity whereas AARP.org is the advocacy and policy umbrella group to which your husband apparently objects. This does not obviate the importance of securing some type of medical evacuation coverage from somewhere unless you are willing and able to self fund that eventuality.

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Marilyn Jones May 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm

AARP is a wonderful organization and you pointed out several reasons beyond admission discounts for becoming a member!

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Marilyn Jones May 18, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I love your kitten! 🙂 And I tweeted the article!

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Irene S. Levine, PhD May 18, 2015 at 5:31 pm

AARP also offers some great hotel discounts as well. For those interested, MedJet Assist offers discounts to travel writers.

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The Gypsynesters May 18, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Great to see you in Miami. Good to get a refresher on all of the discounts AARP offers. Too often we forget to check.

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Johanna May 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Seems like you get some good benefits with AARP. I think we have to wait until we are over 60 to get any ‘senior’ benefits in Australia. I loved your tips here, and yes I also wish I still had the magical benefits of our children’s generation who really don’t seem to worry as much – actually leaving the house takes major expedition planning for me to organise everything to make me feel happy, so I might as well stay away a long time once I’m actually out! Great post, and you made me giggle as ever with your wit and humour 🙂

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Carole T. Meyers May 18, 2015 at 8:03 pm

Valuable advice. I didn’t know that some evacuation coverages are not what they appear to be. I’ll check more closely my California AAA coverage.

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Susan Moore May 18, 2015 at 10:07 pm

LOL I returned every one of the AARP invitations they sent me! I even called to tell them to stop sending them to me, finally they have ceased. I didn’t see any great discounts available and I am still in denial that I am of the “boomer” generation. Alas, I am over 50 and do travel overseas often so I will look into the evacuation insurance coverage. For domestic I don’t have a need for it, as I have no family in USA and I am going nomadic in the fall.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 19, 2015 at 2:56 am

Hey, AARP is just a four letter word.

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Anita @ No Particular Place To Go May 19, 2015 at 1:06 am

I remember teasing my husband about being “old” when the AARP lit started coming after his birthday and then, a few years later, it was my turn. However, once I started looking at the some of the discounts this group has to offer I realized it’s has great info and tips on how to keep active after hitting the “milestone” age and its online magazine is fun to read too.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 19, 2015 at 2:58 am

I think I got to be a member when my husband turned 50, a year ahead of me. At the time, it seemed kind of early to be a card carrying member. That is no longer the case. 😉

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Josie May 19, 2015 at 8:22 am

Hi Suzanne,
Thanks for the look at AARP. Your visit to the conference in Miami provided a great way for the company — whether for- or non-profit — to spread detailed information.
Regards,
Josie

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alison abbott May 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Hey Suzanne-I didn’t know about the media vac insurance thru AARP, so thanks for all the info. I wasn’t too happy when the mailings started arriving in my mailbox, but they do have their fair share of useful products.

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Rossana Wyatt May 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm

This is great news to know, especially about evacuation news… will have to see if it extends to Canada at all.

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nan @ lbddiaries May 20, 2015 at 7:59 am

Hmm, I don’t think AARP sent me that stuff when I turned 50; I am pretty sure they started somewhere in my 40’s!! I remember being shocked! I guess I’d better go revisit them and see what they have to offer – I sort of blew them off back then. They have become quite a powerhouse, though! Good info.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 20, 2015 at 3:06 pm

If the hubster turned 50 before you did, you would also have been eligible to join when he did.

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Patti May 20, 2015 at 3:38 pm

I remember getting my AARP invitation and having a similar reaction… who me?! Nine years later I’m still dragging my feet but I’m realizing there are perks that come with age, gray hair not being one of them.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 20, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Wait until someone asks you if you’re eligible for the senior discount—- before you ask. #GimmeABreak

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Kay Dougherty May 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm

I use my AARP membership for the MedJet discount. Because I seem to get both more accident prone (still can’t hear in my right ear after a scuba diving lesson last week) and more adventuresome (took the lesson in Fiji) I make very sure to always have excellent medical coverage!

I also use my AARP membership for hotel discounts. I have to remember to ask if there’s an AARP discount and am surprised at how often there is.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr May 22, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Kay, having read about some of your adventures, I think the med evac insurance is an especially good move for you. 😉

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Rachel May 23, 2015 at 12:52 am

Here in the Netherlands I can’t use the AARP offerings, unfortunately. I have all-year travel insurance, and my Dutch health insurance covers me for medical care overseas. But I never checked whether either one covers evacuation to home … I’ll look into it!

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Rena McDaniel May 29, 2015 at 10:28 am

What great information! I had no idea that AARP had that many important discounts. Thanks so much for the tips!

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