How to save on tourist attractions' admission tickets

Amusement parks, museums, and other tourist attractions often cut senior citizens and students a break on admission fees, but you don't necessarily need to be a cash-conserving retiree or a scrappy college undergraduate to take advantage of those deals.

That's because the elderly threshold is edging downward, and anyone can become a student again.

While age 65 is widely accepted as the gateway to one's golden years, some places consider senior citizens to be anyone age 62 or older, 60 or older, and sometimes even age 55 or older. So be sure to ask if there's a discount for senior citizens and what the criteria is.

If you're on the age borderline, don't be bashful about nicely telling the cashier which other places gladly consider you to be a senior citizen. A little bit of perceived commercial peer pressure could save you 10% to 25% of the entry fee.

Yet since you can't speed up your birthdays, an even easier money-saving tactic is enrolling in a night or weekend course at a nearby community college, which will issue you a student identification card. The class doesn't need to cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, or involve any unwanted homework.

My dad signed up for a free, twice-weekly tai-chi class at San Francisco City College, which gave him a student ID card that he repeatedly whipped out of his wallet as we traveled across the country on a 17-day roadtrip this summer.

It doesn't matter that my dad missed some of the classes (we were, after all, on the road). He still scored the student admission prices at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum in Little Rock, Ark., (paying $5 instead of $7) and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M. ($8 instead of $10).

You're never too old to learn -- especially when it comes to saving money on vacation!
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