It’s an American coming-of-a-certain-age rite of passage. You turn fifty and you join AARP, right?
For me, it was easy – I’m married to a man five years older than me.
The blow of my aging milestones are always softened because David clears the way for me – he crashes through them kicking and screaming so I can glide into them gracefully knowing that it’s not the end of the world (until I look in the mirror and realize that I don’t quite match up to the image I have of myself in my mind!).
Riding on David’s coattails, I’ve been carrying an AARP card in my wallet for over five years now.
Yet I have never whipped it out for a discount. Periodically I’ll remember to ask at a movie theater and ALWAYS make sure it’s David who proves he’s a member by showing his card. Usually I simultaneously mock him for being an old guy – if you can’t laugh at your husband, who can you laugh at?
Humor begins at home and, with the kids grown, David gets to be the butt of all of my jokes – and vice-versa.
When I recently became a member on my own merits, I started paying a bit more attention.
Because I’m a tech-savvy, heavy-travelin’, newly-certified old gal, I quickly discovered that Expedia has amazing discounts for AARP members. We now book our plane tickets almost exclusively using their site. I always cross-check with other discount providers and, because Expedia waives booking fees for members, the prices rock.
But that was the extent of my participation with AARP.
Until last weekend when we were invited to check out the Life@50+ Expo in Atlanta with a great group of Boomer Bloggers.
Honestly, when the initial e-mail came in, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. Whipping out my card for discounts is one thing (not that I’ve done it yet), but now I was being asked to jump in with both feet. But when I found out that our buddies The Roaming Boomers and Donna Hull were going to be there – we had to accept the invite.
A Volunteer Explosion
James “JB” Brown, Pepper Schwartz and Dan Marino kick it off!
The expo started with an amazing event – the Celebration of Service.
I loved this – members gathered together for a pep rally of sorts with AARP Ambassadors Dan Marino, James “JB” Brown – and others – before storming Atlanta by volunteering at senior homes, Boys and Girls’ Clubs, learning centers, urban forests and food banks.
David, the Atlanta Falcon’s Jessie Tuggle, and 100’s of volunteers
create hygiene bags for Clean the World
We chose to help put together hygiene kits for Clean The World, who collect and recycle soap and shampoo products discarded by hotels and distribute them to impoverished people worldwide to help prevent millions of hygiene-related illnesses. To date, Clean the World has put over 11 million soap bars and 325,000 pounds of shampoo and conditioner back in use, simultaneously eliminating over 750 tons of waste.
Amazing work they do.
We also found out about Create The Good, a non-profit that pairs members up with volunteer opportunities based on their life experiences, skills and passions.
Hitting the Expo Floor
Having never been to an expo like this, I had no idea what to expect. The brightly-lit, highly-charged event was a blast – and the information and freebies flowed like water!
I was especially impressed by the TEK Pavilion, where jam-packed seminars saw highly engaged folks learning about the latest in technology.
— The GypsyNesters (@gypsynester) October 4, 2013
I Want My Senior Discount!
There was no stopping me in the AARPDiscounts.com area of the expo – I knew this was my chance to find out how whipping out my card could enhance my miserly ways. When I found out that most of the discount providers have an online presence, and that public card whipping need not be done, my excitement grew exponentially.
For example, I have a long-standing relationship with 1-800-Flowers. Every year on David’s birthday I send my mother-in-law flowers as a thank you for bearing David in pain.
I’ve always used 1-800-Flowers because they have a wide variety and, to mix things up, some years I like to send her of their more fanciful offerings.
I could have been getting a 20% discount?! How did I not know this?
And that was just the tip of the bargains iceberg – Geek Squad offers a 30% discount for help with computer meltdowns, UPS Store has 15% discounts, I can get free donuts to dunk in my coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, Live Nation hands out ridiculously cheap concert tickets, Angie’s List offers 45% off membership… Follow AARP Member Advantages on Facebook to keep up with the latest and see our full list of AARP travel discounts we found.
Hangin’ with Celebrities
Schmoozing football guys was not our only opportunity to reach for the stars.
Appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Tyler Perry, Jane Pauley, Andy Garcia, Martina Navratilova — as well as speaking events with authors, doctors, scholars, faith leaders and filmmakers — were going on all over the place. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a celeb!
— The GypsyNesters (@gypsynester) October 5, 2013
Speaking of celebs, there were three concerts to attend – a Gospel extravaganza, The Happy Together Dance Party and my fellow new AARP card carrier, Gloria Estefan.
We opted for the Happy Together Tour, featuring The Turtles, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night and three Garys – Puckett (of Union Gap fame), U.S. Bonds, and Lewis (as in “and the Playboys”).
These guys, all of a “certain age” rocked it.
And so did I, AARP card and all.
— My biggest tip on mother-in-law bliss – and how to save 20% to boot!
— Check out our list of AARP travel discounts!
— See favorite part of Life@50+ – helping out in the community at the Celebration of Service!
— Also at Life@50+ – the Movies for Grownups Film Festival