The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

The Zambezi Queen sails the Chobe River near Victoria Falls.  Photo from Mantis Collection.

The Zambezi Queen sails the Chobe River near Victoria Falls. Photo from Mantis Collection.

Zanzibar…Swaziland…Mozambique…

There’s something about the letter “Z” in a name that says “exotic” to me.  And I’m drawn to every place, geographic feature, form of transport, or travel-related entity that has a “Z” in it.

That’s what first took me to the Zambezi River in south-central Africa, which, naturally, runs between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Zambezi pour over Victoria Falls, one of the world’s great natural wonders, on two occasions — an unforgettable experience.

So I was very glad to learn that this May, Mantis Collection is launching the “Zambezi Queen Collection,”  a four-vessel fleet of river boats — or “floatels,” as they call them — that provide access to the Zambezi and Chobe river systems, which occupy the region where the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe… Continue reading

Not a good start to a trip. Photo by Gideon on flickr.

Not a good start to a trip. Photo by Gideon on flickr.

Since I’m in the middle of packing for a trip, it seemed a good time to continue my series on packing tips — this time for men.

My first tip is to see if you can finagle your wife/spouse/significant other/good friend of the tidier persuasion to organize your packing for you. (Ha ha, just kidding…sort of.)

If you’re the tidier one in your relationship, great. But you still may overpack, just in a more tidy way than, say, I do.

By trial and error — mostly error — I’ve learned that the key to packing smart is packing light, which usually saves time, money, space, headaches and backaches. Think George Clooney in the film “Up In the Air.” Somehow he managed to get everything into a small carry-on whenever he flew and still turn up looking spiffy. But of… Continue reading

You'll cycle past castles and vineyards on the Castles and Wine tour offered by Tripsite. Photo from Portugal Bike Tours.

You’ll cycle past castles and vineyards on the Castles and Wine tour offered by Tripsite. Photo from Portugal Bike Tours.

Many baby boomers have bucket lists — some of which include extraordinary bicycle trips through Europe (I know I do).

A company I’ve come across called Tripsite.com makes it easy to check off what they call your “Bike-It” list — which sounds preferable to “bucket list” anyway — with bike trips in more than 30 European countries as well as several in Asia and other parts of the world (including the U.S. and Canada).

And when I say easy, I mean easy.

You can search by type of tour (guided, self-guided, E-bikes — those are the bikes that give you an electric  power boost when needed — and whether or not boat trips are included along with the biking portions).

You can also search by country, month of the year, degree of… Continue reading

A European river cruise is  a popular baby boomer travel choice.  Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

A European river cruise is a popular baby boomer travel choice. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Periodically I like to remind travel marketers that baby boomers — now in our 50s and 60s — are a frequently overlooked travel market.

But why are we overlooked?

According to a recent AARP study, American boomers spend more than $120 billion (that’s with a “b”) annually on leisure travel. We plan to take an average of four or five leisure trips in 2015 alone. That’s more than any other age group.

Many boomers are still working and earning more than we ever have in our lives. Others of us are already retired and eager to hit the road or the skies — with both time and money on our hands.

For the most part, our kids are off on their own and we can look beyond Disney World, the all-inclusive beach resort, or the cabin at… Continue reading

Dublin's Temple Bar area.  Photo b y Nico Kalser on Flickr.

Dublin’s Temple Bar area. Photo b y Nico Kalser on Flickr.

Since some friends of mine are headed to Dublin, Ireland, soon, this seemed like a good time to extol the virtues of one of my favorite cities.

If course, it helps if you like Guinness stout — but there’s more to Dublin than Ireland’s national drink (no offense to Irish whiskey).

Still, any top seven list of things to do in Dublin has to start with sampling some Guinness. You can get a well-poured pint in any pub in the city, but you can get a great orientation to both Guinness and Dublin’s literary heritage by joining the:

* Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. This is a fun 2 1/2-hour evening event that combines literary storytelling by two talented actors with the chance to sip a Guinness (or other drink) at four different pubs. It starts at the Duke… Continue reading

Camel riding is fine until you turn numb and get dust in your mouth. Photo by upyernoz on flickr.

Camel riding is fine until you turn numb and get dust in your mouth. Photo by upyernoz on flickr.

I never like to say “never” when it comes to travel experiences, especially adventurous ones, but there are certain ones I don’t care to repeat.

I’d glad I did them — but “did” is the operative word (as in the past tense). I’ll do just about anything once, with the possible exception of bungee jumping. I’m still working up to that one, and admire anyone who’s done it — although I’d feel pretty stupid if that’s the way I kicked the bucket, list or no.

Here’s my “honor roll” of once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime-is-enough-thanks travel experiences:

* Camel riding. It seems the height of romanticism — crossing the Sahara or the Arabian sands on a camel. Lawrence of Arabia, Omar Sharif,  flowing robes, Bedouins and all that. My first camel ride, in Tunisia, actually… Continue reading

Some of the devastation from the Nepal earthquake. Photo from Channel3000.com

Some of the devastation from the Nepal earthquake. Photo from Channel3000.com

The death toll in Nepal’s recent devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands. Thousands more survivors desperately need aid as homes and buildings lie in rubble, many in remote villages.

Anyone who has been trekking in this beautiful country knows the word namaste, the Sanskrit greeting you receive from almost every Nepalese you pass on the trail. It means “I bow to you” or “I salute the spirit within you,” acknowledging a divine consciousness within everyone.

The Nepalese people are unforgettable, and we should not forget them now in their time of need.

Here are some places where you can donate money where the aid goes directly to local relief workers on the ground in Nepal:

MercyCorps

AmeriCares

Planeterra Foundation

Educate the Children International 

For additional ideas on where to contribute, go to the StrideTravel.com blog,… Continue reading

Probably time to rethink your packing strategy. Photo by Keith Williamson on flickr.

Probably time to rethink your packing strategy. Photo by Keith Williamson on flickr.

Anyone who has struggled with hauling luggage onto a train or up or down a flight of stairs — where suitcase wheels don’t help all that much — knows the value of packing light.

It’s just that — if you’re like me — you also struggle with knowing what to leave out when you travel. As a friend, Jade Chan, just wrote me in response to a recent post giving tips on how to pack light:

“I can totally relate to you being a heavy packer when travelling. I try to think of every scenario possible, so I’ll pack everything that I think I’ll need. Although I pack only two pairs of footwear, it’s the ‘everything else’ that weighs down my suitcase. My backpack is quite big too. So I always marvel at how backpackers… Continue reading

The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

I see a lot of Top Ten travel lists of this and that, often filed away and forgettable. But a friend just sent me a particularly interesting compilation of Top Ten travel lists — ranging from the world’s best nightlife destinations to best culture and history to cheapest and most expensive places to visit — as voted on by 7,000 travelers who took part in a recent survey by hostelworld.com.

Now it’s true that most people using hostelworld.com, a site where you can book hostels and inexpensive hotels/inns/guesthouses around the world, are probably much younger than the typical baby boomer demographic. But I was struck by, well, how much I agreed with the findings of the survey – though perhaps for different reasons in some cases.

Whether that means I’m still a 20-year-old backpacker at heart, or the hostel dwellers are… Continue reading

Bike tours are cheaper in Europe this year if purchased in dollars.

Bike tours are cheaper in Europe this year if purchased in dollars.

A stronger U.S. dollar and falling euro values this year mean one very good thing for U.S. travelers headed over the Atlantic: the dollar will now go a lot farther in Europe than in any time in the past several years.

The current exchange rate is just about .93 euros to $1 U.S. — meaning Americans only have  to fork over $1.07 to get one euro in exchange. That’s a big drop from the $1.30 or so per euro of recent years.

One U.S.-based company, BikeToursDirect, which represents European-based bike touring companies, points out that paying for your European bike tours in dollars can save you substantial amounts of money this year.

At the current exchange rate, BikeToursDirect (which I have previously written about here) now offers more than 200 tours under $1,000 and 29 tours under $550. Here… Continue reading

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Best Baby Boomer Travel Blogs in 2015

2014Seal_Gold

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NATJA SEAL-Gold winner

According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.