The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

The lifetime Senior Pass for national ;parks and recreation areas is just $10.

The lifetime Senior Pass for national ;parks and recreation areas is just $10.

One of the best perks for turning 62 — if you’re a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident — is the “Senior Pass” that allows those aged 62 and over to enter any of the U.S. national parks, monuments, and recreation areas for all of ten bucks. Let me repeat that. That’s a “ten” with one zero.

And that’s not all, fellow baby boomers! The pass is good for life. It never expires until you do (and if you never expire, so much the better!).

And wait, there’s more! You can get your pass as you drive into many of those same parks and recreation areas. Just ask the attendant at the gate, show some proof of age (driver’s license is good), and you can usually get your pass on the spot. For $10.

Those under 62… Continue reading

Imelda Marcos demonstrates her phone shaped like a shoe.

Imelda Marcos demonstrates her phone shaped like a shoe.

Note: This is the second in an occasional series of chance encounters I’ve had with famous people while traveling. The first was with anthropologist Margaret Mead in Kenya as she hesitated to cross a busy Nairobi boulevard. 

Several years ago I was in Manila, capital of the Philippines, and in a bit of a funk.

I was traveling with a group of journalists and we had just finished dinner at a mediocre Chinese restaurant that was located in a nondescript mall way across town from our hotel –a two-hour bus ride, or should I say crawl, away. (Without traffic it would have been maybe 20-30 minutes, but Manila traffic is notoriously brutal.) The dinner was as bland as its surroundings.

As we walked back to the bus all I could think about was the long return ride that awaited. Our… Continue reading

Approaching Gibraltar by cruise ship. Photo by Clark Norton

Approaching Gibraltar by cruise ship. Photo by Clark Norton

In the brief aftermath of the stunning British vote to depart the European Union, UK google searches have surged on — among other topics — “getting an Irish passport” and “move to Gibraltar.”

Getting an Irish passport makes a certain amount of sense, since Ireland is part of the EU and if you want to stay in it, you could move to Ireland.

Moving to Gibraltar — the famous Rock and one of the original “Pillars of Hercules” that guards the entrance to the Mediterranean like a sentinel — is a little puzzling, though, since it’s a British Overseas Territory and will presumably have to exit the EU as well.

Still, 96 percent of the voting population among Gibraltar’s 30,000 residents marked their ballots for “Remain” (in the EU), so those moving to Gibraltar would presumably find lots of sympathetic ears.… Continue reading

My travel T-shirt quilt made by Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Photo by Catharine Norton.

My travel T-shirt quilt made by Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Over the years, I’ve picked up dozens — well, probably hundreds — of souvenir T-shirts from my travels.

I almost always buy at least one, and often more, from each trip. Some haven’t even fit me very well, but I liked the look of them, so I bought them. Others I’ve worn so many times that they’re practically threadbare.

But no matter how well worn or ill-fitting, I had a hard time throwing them away. Well, truth be told,  I never threw any of them away .

They were, after all, souvenirs of my travels — one of the few things I regularly collect from my trips — and remind me of places I’ve been, cruises I’ve taken, hotels where I’ve stayed, or restaurants I’ve loved (or that just had cool T-shirts).

Most that I… Continue reading

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- part of a trend? Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — part of a trend? Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental.

First, let’s establish one thing: I’m not a particularly  affluent traveler, certainly by U.S. standards. I don’t really know where I fall in the spectrum of what I spend roaming the world , but I know that when I’m traveling on my own dime price is definitely an object.

Sure, I like to stay in a five-star hotel, dine in a Michelin three-star restaurant or fly first class as much as the next guy, but only if someone else is paying for it. As a consequence, I’ve stayed in some real dumps, eaten any number of meals in greasy spoons, and sat cramped in coach for up to 14 hours at a time on hundreds of flights, all to feed my travel addiction or in furtherance of getting a… Continue reading

Note: This is the first in an occasional series of “chance encounters” with famous people while traveling.

The New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, back in the day

The New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, back in the day

It was May 1977,  and I was sitting at an outdoor table in the Thorn Tree Cafe of Nairobi, Kenya’s, New Stanley Hotel, nursing a Tusker beer and alternating glances between the local paper (“Saboteurs Hit Uganda!” blared one headline) and the other patrons.

I chuckled at some members of the well-heeled safari set sipping bubbly at a nearby table, looking slightly ridiculous in their pith helmets and bush jackets.

But I have to admit, I was a bit envious of them. I was on my first overseas reporting assignment for a news service I was working for at the time, and, after several days of frustration, the stories just weren’t materializing — in truth, I didn’t know what I… Continue reading

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry Crosses Delaware Bay.

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry Crosses Delaware Bay.

In a previous post last summer,  I wrote about how my wife, Catharine, and I liked to ride the Cape May-Lewes Ferry — which crosses Delaware Bay to connect northern Delaware and southern New Jersey — just for fun when visiting the Jersey Shore.

Unlike most passengers, who are actually trying to get somewhere — holding 100 cars and other vehicles, the ferry provides a relaxing alternative to traffic-choked I-95 when traveling up or down the East Coast — Catharine and I just enjoy being out on the water. So we’ve taken the 34-mile, nearly three-hour round-trip voyage from Cape May, New Jersey, across the bay to Lewes, Delaware, and back strictly as a day trip.

It’s essentially a “cruise to nowhere,” and on a beautiful sunny day it’s a delight to sit up on deck and just watch the… Continue reading

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona's photogenic Red Rock Country. Photo by Michael Madsen.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona’s photogenic Red Rock Country. Photo by Michael Madsen.

When I moved to Tucson in late 2015, one of the first people I looked up was Mitch Stevens, who runs a tour company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking and walking tours in some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic areas.

While Southwest Discoveries is relatively new, Mitch is an old hand at leading hikes and tours, with an extensive background at the helm of Sierra Club outings. He’s particularly interested in drawing baby boomers to his tours, which is how we originally connected.

Mitch has lived in Arizona for decades and is a walking encyclopedia in the geology, archaeology, history, and culture of the Southwest.

Arizona’s searing summer heat levels off in Autumn, with October and November ushering in perfect hiking weather that lasts throughout the winter and into spring.

Red Rock Country

Mitch has… Continue reading

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

Viking Cruises — which already operates the world’s largest and most popular river cruise line with almost 60 ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia– is now moving into ocean cruising in a big way.

Viking launched its first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star, in 2015, and in April 2016 launched its second, the Viking Sea. (I’m looking forward to a voyage on the Viking Sea this fall in the eastern Mediterranean).

And it’s launching more ocean-going vessels, the Viking Sky, Sun, and Spirit, in 2017 or 2018. A sixth unnamed ship is on order for 2020, and if Viking’s explosive growth in river cruising is any indication, other ocean-going cruise lines may want to watch their backs.

Viking’s ocean-going vessels hold a maximum of 930 passengers and, in… Continue reading

You can avoid long security lines. Photo from TSA.

You can avoid long security lines. Photo from TSA.

As airport security lines snaked around airports like giant boa constrictors threatening to strangle passengers trying to reach their gates this spring — with waits of an hour or more in some locations, and thousands of flights missed — my wife, Catharine, and I were generally able to waltz through security in under five minutes.

In most cases, we didn’t have to take off our shoes, belts, or light jackets, and sometimes I didn’t have to remove my laptop from my briefcase. We also didn’t have to go through those infernal body scanners that require you to remove even non-metal objects from your pockets; instead, we walked through simple metal detectors.

No, we’re not airline employees, or VIPs, or anything other than ordinary travelers. We weren’t flying first class or boasting elite status with the airlines. None of our relatives… 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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