The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

Multi-generational travelers might opt to sail away to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder. Photo from Disney Cruise Lines

Multi-generational travelers might opt to sail away to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder. Photo from Disney Cruise Lines

Multi-generational travel is hot.

So hot that it’s up 30 percent over the past year. And boomer-led family groups are spending an average of $1,000 more per year than other travelers,  according to findings at a recent family travel summit.

The second TMS Family Travel Summit, organized by TMS Family Travel and Family Travel Consulting,  brought together 38 travel journalists, editors, publishers and marketers to hear the latest research, discuss travelers’ needs, and determine marketing strategies for family groups led by retiring boomers. 

The multi-generational travel phenomenon presents both challenges and opportunities for those in the travel industry.

 But what, exactly, constitutes multi-generational travel? 

One speaker defined it as a travel party comprised of at least one traveler over age 60 with at least one traveler under age 18 who resides in a different household.… Continue reading

Seats don't recline on Spirit Airlines -- a possible solution? Photo by Spirit Airlines

Seats don’t recline on Spirit Airlines — a possible solution? Photo by Spirit Airlines

You’ve probably heard about the recent spate of airline seat reclining wars.

One passenger wants to recline his or her seat. The passenger sitting behind the first passenger doesn’t like the intrusion into his or her space — or possibly getting hit in the knees, head, or having a beverage spilled all over him or herself, or being unable to comfortably work on a laptop.

Tempers flare, and heated words are exchanged. Various rights are invoked – “my right” to recline versus (in the case of the other passenger) “my right” to have what little space the airline allots me to myself, without having your head practically lying in my lap.

Sometimes gadgets are employed. In one recent case, a “knee defender” — which prevents the person in front from being able to recline — led to… Continue reading

Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is profiting from its country URL code, .tv. Photo from timelesstuvalu.com

Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific, is profiting from its country URL code, .tv. Photo from timelesstuvalu.com

Until I read about it in The New York Times, I had no idea that Tuvalu — a small South Pacific island nation previously best known as one of the most likely to sink below water as the oceans rise (“Toodle-oo, Tuvalu,” goes the sardonic refrain) — has been making millions of dollars by selling its Internet URL suffix .tv to companies that stream videos and the like.

Every country and a number of dependencies has been assigned a country code, usually based on its name, and Tuvalu lucked into the .tv designation years ago.

I salute their entrepreneurial spirit, even as their low-lying atolls threaten to become the next Atlantis.

It turns out Tuvalu isn’t the only country doing this sort of business.

According to The Times, Colombia has… Continue reading

Craving a Hawaiian honeymoon? Let Fundly help?

Craving a Hawaiian honeymoon? Let Fundly help.

“Help us get to Hawaii,” plead a pair of honeymooners. And a variety of folks have chipped in $2,400 for it.

“London is longing for Jesus,” writes another, and $1,070 has been donated for one woman to help bring him there, or so the implication goes.

Meanwhile, someone named Renie wants to go to Rome — that wish has brought in $730 — while another $435 has been kicked in for a woman whose “lifelong dream” is to move to France.

All the above and plenty more would-be travelers have opened campaigns on Fundly.com, one of the world’s top crowdfunding sites, to try to convince other people — be they friends, family, neighbors, or complete strangers — to donate to their travel funds and bucket list destinations.

If you aren’t familiar with the term crowdfunding, it’s really just what it sounds like: getting… Continue reading

ChocoChicken restaurant in Los Angeles, open and ready for business. Photo from la.eater.com.

ChocoChicken restaurant in Los Angeles, open and ready for business. Photo from la.eater.com.

First, the recipe:

Chocolate Chicken

Ingredients:

Two boneless chicken breasts, cut thin

1 tsp. unsweetened or semisweet cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

a dash of cayenne pepper or chili flakes

Chocolate, a key ingredient in Chocolate Chicken.

Chocolate, a key ingredient in Chocolate Chicken.

lemon juice (enough to make mix “goopy”)

some cilantro or basil, chopped

melted butter (you choose the amount)

optional: cumin or garlic powder

whiskey for flambeing

Instructions:

Mix above ingredients together (except whiskey if flambeing).

Wash chicken and coat thoroughly with mix.

Let sit for awhile  while you figure out what to serve with it, or have a cocktail (optional, but if flambeing, don’t use up all your whiskey).

Cook chicken — grill it, fry it, bake it, saute it, stir-fry it, flambe it, whatever you like, but do make sure to apply sufficient heat that it… Continue reading

Washington Irving's Sunnyside cottage. Photo from visitsleepyhollow.com

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside cottage. Photo from visitsleepyhollow.com

Most everyone remembers the great Washington Irving tales “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” both dating from nearly 200 years ago.

In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane, the stork-legged superstitious schoolteacher, was frightened into fleeing the area by a rival who posed as the Headless Horseman. (Johnny Depp starred in a movie about it.)

In “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip — a resident of a small village in the Catskills while New York was still an English colony — unwittingly had a drink with the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew and slept for 20 years, right through the Revolutionary War.

As some of you know, I’m a resident of the Catskills myself, so I’ve put together a little Washington Irving themed literary legends tour of the area.

You can start your Irving legends tour at the village of Tarrytown north of New… Continue reading

One of the covered bridges in Putnam County. Photo from coveredbridgecountry.com.

One of the covered bridges in Putnam County. Photo from coveredbridgecountry.com.

Just about every writer has tried to mine his or her high school reunion story as some sort of transformative journey into the past that sheds some kind of brilliant new light on the present or future.

So much so that some magazine editors have proclaimed, “Please, no more high school reunion stories.” But that’s the beauty of a blog — I can write what I want, and you can choose whether or not to read it.

Having just attended my, ahem, longtime reunion with 46 other high school classmates (of a class of around 114, 27 are deceased, and 40 didn’t show, so the majority of those still alive did come), I’m naturally inclined to do the same, mulling over headlines like “You Can Go Home Again” or “You Can’t Go Home Again,” depending, I guess, on which… Continue reading

Battling whitewater on the South Fork American River. Photo from Whitewater Connection.

Battling whitewater on the South Fork American River. Photo from Whitewater Connection.

When last we left my daughter, Lia, then age 11 and on her first whitewater rafting trip on California’s American River, it was the calm before the storm. The storm that lay ahead was called Troublemaker, a Class III++ rapids, and our normally jovial Adventure Connection guide, Lumpy, had turned deadly serious, issuing instructions that left Lia (and the rest of us in the raft) feeling just a bit apprehensive. What came next justified those feelings, but left a lasting impression on a young adventurer.

Here is Part 2 of  Troublemaker: A Whitewater Memoir, by Lia Norton.

Slowly, our raft — the last in the convoy — drifted towards the drop. The current pulled us along, allowing us an opportunity to view the swirling mass in its entirety, as we watched the rafts ahead of us plunge into… Continue reading

Rafting on the American River. Photo from American River Recreation.

Rafting on the American River. Photo from American River Recreation.

When I wrote my first family travel guide to California for Fodor’s 20 years ago, I took my children — Grael, then age 14, and Lia, then age 11 — all over the state as a vital part of the research.

Usually I could sense right off the bat which attractions and activities they liked: going on rides at Universal Studios theme park, good; driving endlessly around Lake Tahoe checking out hotel rooms, bad. Camping in Death Valley, good; walking tour of Monterey Bay Historic Park, bad. (Lia was particularly bored with that one.)

One activity I knew didn’t bore her, though, was our whitewater rafting trip on the American River in the California Gold Country, with an outfitter called Adventure Connection. What I didn’t know for sure at the time was whether she found it exhilarating or terrifying.

Several years… Continue reading

The cover of one of the most popular Tintin books.

The cover of one of the most popular Tintin books.

When my son, Grael, was a child, I used to read “The Adventures of Tintin books to him nearly every night.

For those of you who don’t know about Tintin, he was a brilliantly drawn cartoon character created by the Belgian artist Hergé, a boy reporter who,  along with his faithful dog Snowy and hard-drinking, foul-mouthed sidekick Captain Haddock, solved mysteries in exotic locales around the globe.

Besides outsmarting and outfighting dastardly villains, he had to overcome the interference of  two bumbling detectives, Thompson and Thomson, who looked exactly alike and were equally incompetent, and deal with eccentric figures like hearing-impaired Professor Calculus and operatic diva Bianca Castafiore.

Tintin was always getting into and then escaping from life-threatening situations, and the colorful  illustrations, reflecting a world that pre-dated mass tourism, made everything foreign — from Egypt to Tibet, Latin America… 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.