The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

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

Now it’s true that most people using, 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

Packing too much? You can cut down fairly easily.

Packing too much? You can cut down fairly easily.

In a recent post, I admitted to having a packing problem — namely overpacking — so that I have to lug a large suitcase on many plane or train trips rather than a lighter, much handier carry-on-size bag (21 or 22 inches long). It spurred me to write “Seven Reasons for Packing Light,” mostly learned the hard way.

But I like to think that after my last trip — a week-long European cruise in February — that I’ve learned my lesson. I’d convinced myself there were extenuating circumstances: it was winter, so I needed heavier clothes; it was a cruise, so I would only need to unpack once; and it was a business trip (a story assignment), so I needed dress clothes and shoes for the ship’s semi-formal nights.

And, of course, my large bag had wheels, as does virtually every… Continue reading

El Yunque Waterfall is one of Puerto Rico's natural wonders. Photo from Puerto Rico Tourism Company

El Yunque Waterfall is one of Puerto Rico’s natural wonders. Photo from Puerto Rico Tourism Company

Now that April 15 has passed and (if you live in the United States) you’re eagerly awaiting your tax refund — should you be so fortunate as to get one — the big question arises: what to spend it on?

Sure, you could pay off some bills, maybe put food on your table, add to your kids’ or grandkids’ college funds — or do what 13 percent of Americans plan to do with their refunds: take a vacation. (This according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.)

It’s been a long, hard winter in much of the country, and tax season is no fun, either. We fall squarely on the “take a vacation side,” especially if you can make your tax refund go farther at your chosen destination.

Puerto Rico — Caribbean America

I’ve… Continue reading

Picture yourself alone on a tropical beach. Photo by Vale 979, Panoramio.

Picture yourself alone on a tropical beach. Photo by Vale 979, Panoramio.

A female friend of mine, who has traveled extensively but usually in the company of family or others, recently remarked that she didn’t feel brave enough to travel alone.

Having traveled a lot on my own myself, especially in my younger days, and never feeling particularly threatened by it, I realize that single women may have a different perspective: Safety issues, getting hassled by unwanted attention, perhaps dealing with creeps who think they can take advantage of you, having to dine alone, and so on.

So I thought this would be a good time to reprise a post that first appeared more than a year ago, with a dozen tips for women traveling solo or considering traveling solo for the first time.

Never having traveled as a baby boomer woman myself, I asked my good friend and fellow… Continue reading

Is this you at packing time? Photo from

Is this you at packing time? Photo from

I admit that I have a packing problem. I tend to overpack, forcing me from bringing only a light carry-on size suitcase to lugging a large, heavy one I have to check on a plane or haul on and off a train.

Shoes are the main culprit. If I’m going on a trek or major hiking trip, I have to pack heavy hiking boots. If I’m going anywhere near a beach or even to a warm-weather destination, I need sandals. Then there are the comfortable urban walking shoes, which I can wear on the plane. But all bets are off if I have to pack dress shoes for some occasion as well.

I also have a tendency to want to bring a shirt or two for every possible type of weather. And so on. Along with all my electronics and gear… Continue reading

The Mykonos waterfront.

The Mykonos waterfront.

Every once in a while I come across a press release so — shall we say, “unusual” — that I have to share it with my readers.

This is one sent by a Mr. John Karaglanis, who introduces himself as “the new General Manager of Hippie Chic Hotel for the 2015 season…We are pleased to present you Hippie Chic Hotel, a new concept in Mykonos.”

This immediately raises the question —  what exactly is the concept behind “Hippie Chic Hotel”? Is it a chic commune, a fashionable “Hog Farm”-type operation transplanted to one of the trendiest and most expensive Greek islands? Maybe a chic backpackers’  hostel?

I ask because as a baby boomer, I can’t help but be struck by the name “Hippie Chic Hotel.”

Back in the day,  circa the late 1960s, hippies were cool, groovy, with it, but oftentimes a bit grungy, and, frankly, stoned much of the… Continue reading

A Ganges morning in Varanasi, India. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews.

A Ganges morning in Varanasi, India. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews.

You’ve done Europe’s Danube, Rhine and Seine, and maybe Russia’s Volga, Portugal’s Douro, or Central Europe’s Elbe.

You’re a devotee of river cruising, and you’re not alone. River cruising is the hottest segment of the cruise industry right now, fueled in large part by baby boomers who enjoy the small ships, the close-up passing scenery, and the informative shore excursions, often included in the price.

European waterways from Spain and Portugal east to the Black Sea are now teeming with river vessels, with more being launched every year.

Cruise lines such as Viking, Uniworld, AMA Waterways, Avalon, Scenic, CroisiEurope, and Emerald Waterways are all competing fiercely for your business there, churning out sleek new ships with tons of innovations like floor to ceiling windows that open up and turn into virtual “balconies” with sitting areas.

Uniworld just launched a Baroque-style river ship… Continue reading

The Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa -- did she name all her daughters after herself?

The Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa — did she name all her daughters after herself?

The usual April 1 routine among publications is to write up some ridiculous story and try to convince readers that it’s true. Today I’m going to reverse that.

All of these 12 trivia items have appeared in some form on my blog over the past two years or so. Only one of them is false.

See if you can figure out which one is strictly for April Fool’s Day:

* You can fly to Mongolia from Beijing, China, in less than two hours.

* Some of the most coveted and prestigious student residences at the University of Virginia have no bathrooms.

* Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa had 16 children; her 11 daughters were all named Maria or Marie.

* The small South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has made millions of dollars by selling its Internet URL suffix .tv to… Continue reading

Hemingway at work.

Hemingway at work.

Hemingway again, in later years.

Hemingway again, in later years.

As a blogger, I’m always looking for helpful tips on how to expand my readership.

For instance, the tip I got to include the words “Miley Cyrus” in a headline has resulted in tons of search-engine-driven hits, even though the blog post (which was about baby boomer travel) had nothing to do with Miley Cyrus.

I ignored the tip not to use the word “algorithm” in a headline and lived to regret it, even though my use of it — “Algorithm and Blues: 99 Ways That Google Is Destroying Baby Boomer Travel” — seemed clever enough. But maybe 99 was pushing it because only my mother read it, and even she stopped at number 63.

So when I came across a tip that a blog should be written at an eighth-grade reading level, it caught my attention. It seems the majority of… Continue reading

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Best Baby Boomer Travel Blogs in 2015


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.