The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

Some of Cuba's "classic" American cars. Photo by German Cruces Rajoan, Panoramio.

Some of Cuba’s “classic” American cars. Photo by German Cruces Rajoan, Panoramio.

It’s been more than 50 years since Fidel Castro came down from the mountains to lead a guerrilla movement ousting the corrupt, Mafia-tied Bautista regime in Cuba. Since that time, U.S.-Cuba relations have been both red hot (during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis) and icy cold (for most of the rest of the time since).

It’s time for a thaw, and I applaud President Obama’s initiative to restore full diplomatic relations with that island nation just 90 miles south of Key West.

As readers of this blog know, I always come down on the side of fewer travel restrictions between nations, not more. I think they lead to greater understanding among peoples, who often are far ahead of their governments in their innate grasp of the need to travel freely and exchange ideas and get to know each other’s… Continue reading

York Minster, an impressive Gothic cathedral, smells like...?

York Minster, an impressive Gothic cathedral, smells like…?

Until this morning, when I read about it in eTurboNews, I hadn’t heard about York, England’s “world famous” (as the Visit York website puts it) smellable travel guide to that alluring city, adding a key sensory sensation to what is normally a sight-only medium.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a smellable picture must add a few hundred more.

The guide, called Smell York – which is straightforward enough, though I might have chosen something less edgy like “York Aromas” — invites you to scratch and sniff 12 different scents to cajole you into literally sniffing out various York attractions and shops.

Some are clearly pleasant — drawing you towards the city’s chocolatiers, tea shops, and floral gardens — and others perhaps less seductive. For instance, one scratch and sniff yields the “haunting aromas of ghosts,” which apparently combine sulfurous notes with… Continue reading

North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un with Dennis Rodman. Photo from the Mirror, London.

North Korea supreme leader Kim Jong-un with Dennis Rodman. Photo from the Mirror, London.

Imagine a country with scenic mountains, some with “surreal” rock formations similar to those you might see in China, uncrowded ski slopes, ancient temples, and a general feel of a place that hasn’t changed all that much in the past few decades.

It holds an annual marathon with opening and closing ceremonies held “in a stadium filled with thousands of cheering North Koreans,” according to a dispatch from eTurboNews.

It also has the dubious honor of being the most closed, secretive society in the world today.

Obviously, we’re talking about North Korea, where tourists — especially Americans, with the notable exception of Dennis Rodman — have been made to feel less than welcome. Some American tourists have even been detained for long periods of time or sent to prison camps based on flimsy evidence of spying or… Continue reading

A South African white rhino  -- endangered enough as it is. Photo by Dennis Cox / WorldViews.

A South African white rhino — endangered enough as it is. Photo by Dennis Cox / WorldViews.

According to recent reports, East African safari tour operators have suffered a 30-70 percent drop in bookings (including cancellations) in recent weeks due to the Ebola scare.

Southern Africa tour operators have been hurt somewhat less, but are nonetheless feeling the pinch.

Let’s put things in perspective.

Just because Ebola has tragically ravaged three West African countries — Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — doesn’t mean it’s not safe to travel to East or Southern Africa, where the vast majority of wildlife safaris take place.

Here are some (perhaps surprising) facts:

London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro are closer to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa than are East and Southern African safari centers like Nairobi, Kenya; Harare, Zimbabwe; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Nairobi is about 3,300 miles from the outbreak,… Continue reading

A Hurtigruten vessel makes its way through the Antarctic ice. Photo from Hurtigruten.

A Hurtigruten vessel makes its way through the Antarctic ice. Photo from Hurtigruten.

Since one of my favorite cruises ever was the Hurtigruten voyage along the coast of Norway, and Antarctica is currently number one on my bucket list, I thought I’d pass along this news from Hurtigruten about big price cuts in some of their upcoming Antarctica cruises, even though you may beat me to a cabin I’m eyeing myself.

You can currently save up to $7,820 per person on a 10- to 19-day voyage to the White Continent, with the new fares running as low as $6,081 per person, double occupancy. While that may not seem cheap compared to, say, a Caribbean cruise, a trip to Antarctica is typically a once-on-a-lifetime experience, and it just got thousands of dollars cheaper on a very experienced expedition-style cruise line:

* The 10-day “Land of the Penguins” voyage is available from… Continue reading

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson''s home, is just outside Charlottesville and can be reached by a hiking trail. Photo by Clark Norton

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson”s home, is just outside Charlottesville and can be reached by a hiking trail. Photo by Clark Norton

Last fall after a visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, I wrote about Ten Things I Didn’t Know about this lovely Virginia city where my daughter now lives.

And now, after a recent second visit, I’ve compiled a list of Five More Things I Didn’t Know About “C’Ville.” So I guess I’m learning. (Stay tuned next year for “One or Two More Things I Didn’t Know About Charlottesville?”)

You could call this the “sports and outdoor activities” edition of the things I didn’t know. It was warmer in October than it was last year in late November, so I got outside more, including to a University of Virginia night football game, a win over Pitt that came complete with exploding scoreboard every time UVA scored, enough cheerleaders and band members to… Continue reading

The pool at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in California's Napa Valley. Photo from Calistoga Spa Hot Springs.

The pool at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in California’s Napa Valley. Photo from Calistoga Spa Hot Springs.

As we get older (yeah, I know, who wants to be reminded of that?), we need to focus more on our health: eating better, staying active, perhaps taking brisk morning walks or gardening.

I also ride an exercycle, handy for winter days in New York when I can’t ride my bike outdoors.

But travel can also play a big role. Wellness retreats, for instance, allow you to get away from your usual daily activities and focus on renewing your health.

Wellness retreats offer a wide variety of services to rejuvenate your mind and body. Most options are relatively inexpensive and provide an all-new way of relieving mental and physical stress.

From centers in the U.S. and abroad, you can find the ideal retreat to suit your needs — and your budget.

These specialty vacations typically… Continue reading

Hapag-Lloyd's Europa 2  is one luxurious way to cruise Europe. Photo by Clark Norton

Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 is one luxurious way to cruise Europe. Photo by Clark Norton

After posting my recent piece on repositioning cruises, I received this guest post entry from reader Suzanne Meades, offering some reasons why baby boomers might prefer taking a cruise ship to flying to and around Europe.

And for those boomers who have the time, I couldn’t agree more.

Both ocean and river cruising are big with boomers. A transatlantic cruise — fairly rare these days, except for repositioning cruises — evokes particular nostalgia for me, since a Spanish steamship took me across the Atlantic on my first trip to Europe in college. I even have a medal for winning the shipboard table tennis tournament, no easy task since the ship was rocking and rolling through the waves during my final match. At least, I think that medal is hiding around here somewhere…

As for seeing… Continue reading

The Tablift lets you read your tablet lying down or sitting up. Photo from Tablift.

The Tablift lets you read your tablet lying down or sitting up. Photo from Tablift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll confess: My wife can always tell when I’ve been drinking out of a particular glass by whether or not it has greasy fingerprints all over it (mine).

Same with who used our tablet last — my fingerprints are everywhere. Maybe it’s the chips I like to snack on. Maybe it’s because I have long fingers. Maybe it’s…well, who cares, I leave fingerprints. Fortunately, I’m not a burglar by trade.

But I do like to read, look at photos I’ve taken, and write and watch things, etc., on our tablet, and I especially like to do these things when I’m traveling, which I do for a living, so if I can spare getting fingerprints all over… Continue reading

Repositioning cruises can be some of the best bargains at sea. Photo by Clark Norton

Repositioning cruises can be some of the best bargains at sea. Photo by Clark Norton

Every fall and spring, a number of ocean-going cruise ships leave one area of the world — say, Europe, Canada, or Alaska in the fall — for another, such as the Caribbean, South America, or Hawaii, to take advantage of the warmer winter waters in the latter spots.

These are called repositioning cruises (repo cruises for short), and they tend to be longer — sometimes quite a bit longer — than a typical cruise.

The cruise lines don’t want to run the ships empty, of course, so they sell the cabins often at  much-reduced rates, especially considering the length of the voyages.  You might find a 17-day October repositioning cruise from Italy to Brazil, for example, for about the same price as a regular 10-day cruise.

In the spring, you might find a 12-day repo… 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.