Research has shown that as we get older, we tend to become more altruistic
As “narcissistic and materialistic values wane in influence” (with age) writes Jim Gilmartin, CEO of the Chicago-based agency Coming of Age, which specializes in marketing to baby boomers and seniors,”concern for others increases.”
In the travel field, this trend has helped fuel the rapid rise of volunteer vacations, also known as “voluntourism”
The concept is simple: rather than go on a more traditional vacation, such as taking a cruise or staying at a resort, you sign up with a company or agency that sets you up to work on a project such as helping in wildlife conservation, building classrooms and homes, or improving local water systems, usually in the developing world.
Yes, you pay for the privilege of helping others, but it’s not necessarily all work and no play, and benefits accrue to the travelers… Continue reading
While I’m traveling in Antarctica for a few weeks I’ll be reprising some of my most popular posts from the past three years. This post — now updated — originally ran in June 2013.
Cut-rate Spirit Airlines has developed an interesting marketing approach. They’ve traded in customer service and comforts for ultra-low fares, and are charging extra for everything from rolling carry-on bags ($35-$55) to water ($3 a bottle), and printing a boarding pass at the airport ($10). Can pay toilets be far behind?
Spirit hypes what it calls its “bare fare: No’free’ bag. No ‘free’ drink. A ticket with us gets you and a personal item from A to B.”
For “personal item,” think average purse size or a small backpack. Measurements are stingy — 16” x 14” x 12” — and if you don’t pay… Continue reading
Sixth in a Series:
Like all rivers, China’s Yangtze is constantly changing, though in this case humans have produced the most profound recent changes rather than nature.
The huge Three Gorges Dam project has resulted in the water level rising more than 100 to 300 feet, depending on the location and the season, along a particularly scenic stretch of the river known as the Three Gorges. The gorges, while not as dramatically steep as the pre-dam versions, are still scenic and still well worth seeing, as my wife, Catharine, and I discovered on a recent Yangtze cruise with Victoria Cruises.
The rising waters have even opened up new scenery to explore: one excursion from our ship, the Victoria Katarina, took us on a ferry ride down the… Continue reading
First in a three-part series.
While all European rivers offer memorable scenery and an alluring array of port stops ranging from big cities to atmospheric villages, they also differ from each other in significant ways. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which river cruise is right for you. (Keep in mind that itineraries may vary a bit among the different cruise lines.)
>Europe’s second longest river is second to none in romance, scenic beauty and high culture. Most one-week Danube itineraries run between Nuremberg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, with stops in Vienna, Austria, and a voyage through Austria’s scenic Wachau Valley along the way. The Wachau Valley features the town of Dȕrnstein – where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned during the Crusades – and the nearby town of Melk, home to a… Continue reading
A reader from New Zealand alerted me to a new travel gadget — so new it’s still on the drawing board — that you can help fund on Kickstarter if you wish.
The gadget — which can be used at home as well as on the road — is a reversible USB adapter that plugs in to any USB port and works with all types of existing cables, whether for a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, a portable hard drive, or what have you.
It’s called an RYO Adapter and it’s from a company called RYO Technology.
Why would you need a reversible USB adapter?
Well, how many times have you tried to plug in a USB cable and realized you had it in backwards so it didn’t fit?… Continue reading
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… Continue reading
I’ve previously written in praise of Douglas Ward’s longstanding guidebook series Cruising and Cruise Ships (Berlitz), considered the bible of the industry when it comes to ocean-cruising ship reviews. His 2014 guide is in its 29th year of publication.
Now Ward is out with the first edition of River Cruising in Europe (Berlitz), and if you’re planning a river voyage in Europe anytime soon, it should be high on your reading list.
European river cruising, as I’ve noted a number of times in this blog, is the hottest segment of the cruising market right now. It’s especially popular among baby boomers – travelers in their 50s and 60s.
On board the Europa 2, Hapag-Lloyd’s elite new cruise ship, I got a taste of what it might be like to sail the Mediterranean on my own private yacht.
Entering the Sicilian port of Trapani on the first morning, I arrived at the ship’s indoor-outdoor buffet as it opened for breakfast. With no other passengers in sight, I was greeted by a phalanx of servers and a cheery chorus of “Guten Morgens” and “Good mornings” (Hapag-Lloyd is a German line, but Europa 2’s crewmembers are bilingual).
For the next several minutes, I sat alone on deck overlooking the sea and the city, basking both in the early morning sun and the full attentions of the eager-to-please crew, who proffered cappuccinos, freshly squeezed juices, cooked-to-order omelets – anything I wanted.
Later in the cruise, when I went for… Continue reading
Yes, we were once the hip generation — and we’re still pretty hip, if you ask me — but now many of us baby boomers are in the market for hip replacements. Not to mention knee replacements, heart bypasses, various forms of cosmetic surgery, and a host of other major medical procedures.
Alas, it goes with the territory of getting a little older, a little wizened, but…still wanting to remain as active and vibrant as possible for as long as possible.
And that’s where medical tourism comes in. In yesterday’s post I talked about the growth of medical tourism — traveling to other countries to have surgeries and other medical procedures done at a small fraction of what they would cost in the United States. And, as a byproduct of that less… Continue reading