You’re Never Too Young for AARP Travel Discounts

Even if you're in your 20s.


If you’re in your 20s or 30s, it’s likely the AARP, originally geared towards Americans over 50, hasn’t been on your radar. But the non-profit organization’s discounts on travel, entertainment, and shopping are simply too good to pass up, and we’re happy to report you don’t need to start seeing grays to sign up for them. In fact, more and more young people are flocking to the veteran agency. The Wall Street Journal reported that as a result of actor and travel blogger Zach Abel spreading the young-AARP gospel on TikTok, 150,000 new members have signed up.

So, if you’re one of the many millennials or members of Gen Z going into debt after booking that summer trip to Europe, here’s why an AARP membership just got a whole lot sexier.

Who’s eligible for an AARP membership?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be at least 50 years old to sign up. There’s actually no minimum age requirement for AARP membership, and you can get access to the same discounts, products, and services as older members. The only difference is, you might run into complications from third-party vendors when it comes to age-restricted insurance products. But we’re here for those travel discounts, anyway.

In case you’re still convinced you’re stealing resources from grandpas everywhere, you need not worry. AARP wants you to take advantage of their offerings, with the hope that we can all work together to support a great cause-that is, fighting age discrimination, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare, and more. “AARP is committed to serving people age 50+ and their families,” says Matthew Phillips, director of travel at AARP. However, we acknowledge our benefits, tools, and resources are beneficial to everyone at any age and encourage the utilization of all we have to offer.”

What kinds of travel discounts are available?

An AARP membership is not exactly a travel credit card, but it’ll afford you discounts here and there that, when added up, can make a significant difference. “We know from our internal research that some of the most utilized benefits by our younger members are the car rental offers by Avis and Budget as well as the variety of travel offerings from the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia,” says Phillips.

If you’ve got an epic road adventure in the works, you can save up to 30% on base rates at Avis and Budget, plus enjoy special perks like car upgrades. Or, if you’ve been inspired by TikTokers living out their retirement fantasies on cruises, you can get up to $200 in onboard credit at Holland America Line. It’s also a great time to hop aboard the train trend, with 5% off on Vacations By Rail.

Finally thinking about that dream trip to London? Your AARP card will grant you anywhere from $65 to $200 off round trip flights on British Airways. While in London or anywhere else, you’ll be able to save on a number of well-known hotel chains, including Best Western, Hilton, IHG, Kimpton, and Wyndham. AARP also has a partnership with tour company Collette, so whether you’re interested in a river cruise or cultural immersion on your next vacation, you can get up to $100 off.

Your membership also comes with restaurant discounts to take advantage of on your travels-whether that’s a road trip pit stop at Denny’s or an airport Jamba juice-as well as savings on tickets to live shows through Ticketmaster.

How do you apply?

To join, simply fill out the online form on the AARP website. Membership is a mere $16 a year-$12 when you sign up for annual renewal-and if you have a spouse or partner, they can get in on your membership for free. It’s as simple as that.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Jessica Sulima is a staff writer on the Travel team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram


Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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