The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

Mont-Saint-Michel is a remarkable sight as you approach. Photo from Normandy Tourist Board.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a remarkable sight as you approach. Photo from Normandy Tourist Board.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have a soft spot for off-the-beaten-track destinations.

Yes, I love Paris and Venice and London, but I also like to explore the lesser-known out-of-the-wsy places that many travelers never reach.

Once years ago, I  set off by train from Paris to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval abbey off the coast of Normandy that I had read about in college in the Henry Adams’ book, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.

The trip took two full days because the train connections were awful, but I made it, and didn’t regret it. It’s a dramatically situated Gothic masterpiece, rising atop a rocky island with a maze of narrow streets surrounding it.

Traditionally, Mont-Saint-Michel has only been reachable by land when the tides are out, via squishy mud flats. When the tides come in,… Continue reading

The Tip 'n Split, calculator and magnifier in one compact motif

The Tip ‘n Split, calculator and magnifier in one compact motif

It’s that season again — when it’s time to stuff the stockings that are hanging by the chimney with care.

The good news: If the stocking you’re stuffing belongs to an ardent baby boomer traveler, there are plenty of new travel gadgets that you didn’t really know you needed until you read about them here. And now you gotta have ’em…

Tip ‘n Split

Our first gadget is called the Tip ‘n Split, invented by a baby boomer named Connie Inukai.

Tip ‘n Split is a compact, multi-use gadget that functions as an easy-to-use tip calculator — and can even split your restaurant bill, if you wish. (It won’t actually pay the bill, however — that’s still up to you and your companions.)

But what I really love about Tip ‘n Split is that it also features a… Continue reading

1ef61fa7bf921f1dc6fc666030b62d88A few months ago I attended a stamp and coin show in Tucson and was disappointed to see that most of the displays were devoted to coins, not stamps.

And I became almost morose while chatting with some of the few stamp dealers there (all of whom were baby boomers, by the way). They each told the same story: in their experience, at least, stamp collecting is a dying hobby. Many of their items had been marked down for faster sale.

As a boy growing up in Indiana, I became a fervent stamp collector while still in grade school.

While I collected stamps from all over the world, including the U.S., I especially liked the issues of British and French colonies — not because I romanticized colonization (I didn’t know its moral implications at the time), but because they beautifully depicted far-away, exotic places that, quite simply, made me… Continue reading

Turkeys

Turkeys

For our first annual Thanksgiving Day Quiz, we shall delve into the history and the mystery of this travel-related holiday, when most everyone in the United States either heads to Grandma’s house or Grandma flees to the buffet at Golden Corral.

Either way, there’s bound to be turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and at least one relative who hits the sauce too much, cranberry or otherwise. It’s a quintessential American holiday, epitomized by food, football, family and friends.

But how much do you really know about it? Here’s the quiz, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberries

Cranberries

1..Which historical figure is most identified with Thanksgiving in America?

a. The Earl of Cranberry

b. Davy Crockett

c. The Sultan of Turkey

d. Governor William Bradford

2. Who  invented the green bean casserole, and when?

a. Betty Crocker in 1949

b. Dorcas Reilly in 1955

c.  … Continue reading

efore you fly, check all your options.

Before you fly, check all your options.

How to find the lowest airfares?

It’s a vexing question in this day and age in which many of us essentially act as our own own travel agents.

This usually means combing a variety of Internet search engines and airline sites, taking a stab at sometimes obscure “airfare hacks” that may be overly complex or irrelevant to our situations, or just quickly booking a flight and hoping for the best because we simply don’t have time for all the other stuff.

Of course, one thing is always in the back of your mind: Could I have saved hundreds of dollars or more by checking more sites, trying more hacks, booking on a different day?

Steve Cuffari, Senior Content Marketing Manager at couponbox.com, an international savings website that includes a travel component, feels your pain. He notes that “Flight hunting is… Continue reading

A dramatically perched fortress tops Mount Titano. Photo by Catharine Norton.

A dramatically perched fortress tops Mount Titano. Photo by Catharine Norton.

In a recent post, I noted that the tiny Republic of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italy, was number one on my personal bucket list.

The main reason was that it was the only country in Western Europe that I hadn’t visited, and that since I would be visiting Italy soon, I could then cross it off my list. Of course, I also wanted to go for all the reasons I want to go anywhere — seeing what there is to see and, I hope, enjoying it — but I admit the list thing was the top consideration.

As it happens, I did visit Italy shortly after the post appeared, and I did make it to San Marino — whose irresistible full name is The Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

And — as a… Continue reading

0b4623e5-a51d-46e8-8c66-a40b164f4a3fI recently came across a clever ad that I love. It’s from a North Carolina- and Italy-based tour agency called Italian Journeys, and the ad is called “Italy Aptitude Exam.

It features a number of “exam” questions that, in a humorous way,  are designed to get you thinking about whether you’d rather spend this January in Italy — on their 10-day tour of Rome and Naples called “Fundamental Italy” — or back home in the U.S. in the dead of winter.

Illustrated with photos old and new, the exam asks you to choose between, among other things, shoveling snow or standing in the sunshine overlooking Rome’s Tiber River; having a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee or a cappuccino; eating American fast food or Italian pasta; and viewing a smoggy American city or what looks to be a dreamy photo of the Isle of… Continue reading

Hanging chads will be a hot historical topic as the US Election 2016 Tour hits Florida.

Hanging chads will be a hot historical topic as the US Election 2016 Tour hits Florida.

While most Americans are understandably sick to death of this year’s nightmarish presidential race, a British tour agency — called Political Tours — is busy putting the final touches on “US Election Tour 2016.”

Yes, a number of stalwart, stiff-upper-lip Brits — still reeling from Brexit — are actually ponying up £3,650 apiece to visit key locations in the epic confrontation of Trump vs. Clinton (AKA the Campaign from Hell).

The week-long tour — timed for maximum excitement from November 2 to November 9, the day after the election — visits the key battleground state of Florida as well as Washington, DC (which, of course, will be devoid of Congresspeople, who are all back home trolling for votes).

Political insider David Rancourt will lead the tour. Described as “a senior… Continue reading

Punakha monastery, Bhutan Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Punakha monastery, Bhutan Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In our last two posts, we took a look at some of the most popular travel-related bucket list destinations and activities based on a survey of 1,000 travelers by the website TotallyMoney.com. You can view those results, and my comments, by clicking here and here.

While my own experiences with a few of the items — such as gambling in Las Vegas — were on the margins (in the case of Vegas, dropping a few quarters into slot machines), I had pretty much done all those on the list.

My own bucket list tends to be a little quirkier than most. Places that end up on my list are pretty far-flung, represent something I’ve missed in past trips, or are just items that fulfill my admittedly peculiar travel obsessions. (I suspect that a lot of baby boomer frequent travelers’ lists are… Continue reading

Man with camel at Great Pyramid of Giza at sunset. Note how souvenir shops are not visible. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Man with camel at Great Pyramid of Giza at sunset. Note how souvenir shops are not visible. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In our last post, we took a look at the top five travel-related Bucket List items as determined in a survey of 1,000 people by TotallyMoney.com.

The Northern Lights, a wildlife safari, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, and taking a cruise were all perfectly good choices — for baby boomers or active travelers of most any age — keeping in mind, of course, that everyone’s individual lists will be different.

A few of the second five in the Top 10 surprised me a bit — simply because they edged out others I would have expected — though they’re all understandable as highly ranked picks.

So here, with my comments and added travel info, are the five sights and activities that finished out the Bucket List Top… Continue reading

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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.

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