The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

First step to traveling abroad: get a passport.

First step to traveling abroad: get a passport.

A recent British Airways survey of 2,000 randomly chosen U.S. baby boomers (aged 55-70) asked what their biggest regrets were in life.

About one out of five (women 22 percent, men 17 percent) responded that they wish they had traveled more.

The majority of those respondents cited responsibilities at work and home that ate up their time — and what they believed would be prohibitive expense — as to why they hadn’t pursued their travel dreams.

About half the men surveyed and more than 60 percent of the women had never gotten passports, mainly due to the perceived expense of international travel.

More than a fifth of all those surveyed now believed that not taking vacations had had a negative effect on their health. And of those who did take vacations, 10 percent said they had worked more than an… Continue reading

Guidebooks that have served me well.

Guidebooks that have served me well.

I’m in the process of cleaning out the rest of our possessions from our house in upstate New York to complete our move to Tucson, Arizona.

Our house in Tucson is maybe half the size of our house in New York, and therein lies a problem: what to do about the hundreds of books that we no longer have room for and can’t afford to move anyway?

The problem is particularly acute with one genre of books that dominate my old office: travel guidebooks.

To say that I have a sizable collection of them would be a bit of an understatement. They date back to my earliest trips abroad in the 1970’s and continued proliferating in the decades since, reaching a crescendo in the early 1990’s just before the Internet began turning print guidebooks into dinosaurs.

Still, being  a baby boomer… Continue reading

Classic cars in downtown Havana draw photographers galore. Photo by Clark Norton

Classic cars in downtown Havana draw photographers galore. Photo by Clark Norton

I just returned from a week-long cruise to Cuba aboard the Greek ship Celestyal Crystal, in the company of 776 fellow passengers, many of them from the United States.

Along with some journalists who were guests of Celestyal Cruises, the Americans were aboard under the auspices of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, a Riverhead, New York-based “People to People” program promoting U.S.-Cuba relations.

The ship was also filled with Canadians, Germans, French, English and other nationalities who had been free to visit Cuba for years, mostly for Caribbean beach vacations.

Americans, on the other hand, have been highly restricted in travels to Cuba for decades, though things are now loosening up following President Obama’s recent rapprochement with Raul Castro.

As of March 16, 2016, just prior to Obama’s historic visit to Havana, Americans can now… Continue reading

This dragons' head is one of sculptor Ricardo Breceda's most riveting works. Photo by Catharine Norton.

This dragon’s head is one of sculptor Ricardo Breceda’s most riveting works. Photo by Catharine Norton.

During our recent visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California, my wife, Catharine, and I and four of our closest friends went searching for spring wildflowers, cactus blooms, and palm oases, and hoped to spot some of the park’s iconic bighorn sheep on our hikes.

We were successful on all fronts except for catching a glimpse of the elusive bighorn sheep, which probably spotted us first and decided to retreat into the park’s rugged canyons and mountains.

But we did see something that I wasn’t expecting at all: one of the greatest displays of public art I’ve ever encountered in the U.S., occupying the desert flat lands outside the town of Borrego Springs, which lie adjacent to the most traveled areas of the park.

As our friends from California… Continue reading

Flowering ocatillos add splashes of red to the desert landscape. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Flowering ocatillos add splashes of red to the desert landscape. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Though hardly a household name outside its region, southern California’s  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the Golden State’s largest, spanning some 600,000 acres of the Colorado Desert about two hours’ drive northeast of San Diego.

Anza-Borrego has rugged canyons, badlands, mesas, nature trails, campgrounds, oases, cacti gardens, Native American rock art, and wildlife, all surrounded by rugged mountain ranges, the latter of which are virtually all road-free wilderness areas.

My wife, Catharine, and I just spent several days there with friends from California — hiking, rock scrambling, seeking out springtime blossoms, four-wheel driving over sandy, bumpy “roads” leading to remote outposts of  desert boulders and vegetation, and searching in vain for signs of desert bighorn sheep, the elusive animals that take to Anza-Borrego’s  mountainous, rocky terrain. (“Borrego”… Continue reading

Sahara Desert dunes at Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Sahara Desert dunes at Erg Chebbi, Morocco. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

With Season 6 of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones almost here, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with Westeros, Winterfell, Essos, King’s Landing, The Seven Kingdoms, the Iron Throne, Tyrion, Cersei, the rest of the Lannisters, Daenerys and the Targaryens, the Baratheons, the Starks, Lord Baelish, the Greyjoys, the Wildlings, the White Walkers…and dozens of other characters, places, families, armies, kings and would-be kings, sadists, liars, spies, schemers, charlatans, lovers, knights, dragons and dungeons we don’t have room to mention.

You can be forgiven if occasionally you get confused about who’s who and what’s what. But GoT is just about the most popular TV show in the world right now, seen in 193 countries (we’re guessing North Korea is the outlier), and we’re big fans, too.

What better way to get ready for Season 6 than visiting some or… Continue reading

Bike tours are a great way to see the countryside and get some exercise.

Bike tours are a great way to see the countryside and get some exercise.

I’m always glad to run guest posts that contain valuable information for baby boomer travelers, and my friend Samantha Scott at StrideTravel.com has put together a good compendium of the most popular trends in boomer travel today — as well as some excellent suggestions for tour companies that will help you join in the fun.

Samantha’s post strikes on many of the themes I’ve been discussing here for nearly three years now: that baby boomers are dedicated travelers and life-long learners, love to take river cruises and travel with their grandchildren, are embracing the wide diversity of tours now available — including adventure travel — and are far more tech savvy than is generally believed.

While not a boomer herself, Samantha “gets it” — boomers are big travelers, are open to and eager for new experiences,… Continue reading

The green links of a golf course in County Clare, Ireland. "Golf" has not caught on as a girl's name, though Ireland has. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews.

The green links of a golf course in County Clare, Ireland. “Golf” has not caught on as a girl’s name, though Ireland has. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews.

Being a new grandfather, not an uncommon thing these days for baby boomers, I’ve been particularly interested in the baby-naming habits of new parents: Specifically whether or not they’re naming babies after places they’ve traveled.

My wife Catharine’s and my own travels played a role in naming our son, Grael. The connection is a bit tangential, but here it is: We had played with the idea of naming him ‘Grayle” — after one of my best friends from college — but didn’t care much for that spelling.

Then one day as the birth neared we were driving around Northern California when we came upon a sign for the village of Graeagle, and a light bulb went off simultaneously in both our minds:… Continue reading

An iceberg off Antarctica. Photo by Catharine Norton.

An iceberg off Antarctica. Photo by Catharine Norton.

An iceberg is born as a roar, as a huge chunk of ice splits from a glacier and plunges into the sea.

But the iceberg’s story is far from over — these drifting islands of ice have much to tell us about our planet. An iceberg — which takes its name from the Dutch ijsberg — or mountain of ice — may lead a surprisingly long and rich life.

Depending on conditions like their size, water and air temperatures, icebergs may survive for days or even years. Eventually they break up and melt — often far from where they originated. Icebergs, in fact, can drift six miles a day or more.

Icebergs are found where glaciers — rivers of ice that flow slowly from mountaintop to sea — predominate: most commonly off the coasts of Antarctica, Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. When… Continue reading

Penguins are funny creatures, especially when out for a walk or a run. Photo by Catharine Norton

Penguins are funny creatures, especially when out for a walk or a run. Photo by Catharine Norton

Having just returned from an unforgettable Antarctica cruise aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s five-star expedition-style ship Hanseatic, I experienced first-hand the fact that penguins are very funny animals.

Penguins are ubiquitous in many parts of Antarctica and on the many islands of the Southern Ocean, including South Georgia, where we spent three amazing days gazing at penguins as far as the eye can see.

They walk funny, then talk funny (some of them sound just like braying donkeys), they even stand funny (especially the poor fellows who are molting and look totally morose because they can’t go in the water at that time).

And they’re particularly funny when they run, especially when the penguin chicks are chasing their parents for food.

It’s possible that this parent thinks it’s time junior went out on his own… Continue reading

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Best Baby Boomer Travel Blogs in 2015

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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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