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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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Adventure travel

This is one of the beautiful images you'll find on StrideTravel.com. Photo by Dennis Cox.

This is one of the beautiful images you’ll find on StrideTravel.com. Photo by Dennis Cox.

“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”

“Less Planning, More Experiencing”

“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”

These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)

In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.

“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading

First in an occasional series of profiles of ardent baby boomer travelers:

Ahu Tongariki moai, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Ahu Tongariki moai, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

I hadn’t seen Carol Bruen — who I knew as Carol Heller before she was married — since the end of seventh grade.

Carol and I were grade school classmates in Greencastle, Indiana, before she moved to Alaska. We reconnected recently via this blog. (One of the best things about blogging is hearing from old friends, classmates, and colleagues — so if some of you are still lingering out there, don’t forget to write!)

In our correspondence, we discovered our lives had taken many similar turns — we both did stints working in the U.S. Senate in Washington during the 1960s; we both lived in the same neighborhood in San Francisco in the 1970s; we both had come to know Alaska quite well; and,… Continue reading

Saguaro cacti along a trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale. Photo by Sheldon Clark

Saguaro cacti along a trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale. Photo by Sheldon Clark

Except for some brief stops at the Phoenix, Arizona, airport, I hadn’t been in the “Valley of the Sun” region for about 30 years until recently, when some friends invited us to spend a few days in their timeshare at the Sheraton Desert Oasis resort in Scottsdale, which lies north and east of Phoenix.

My memories of the area weren’t particularly positive. Our previous Phoenix visit — poorly timed for August, when it was 110 degrees in the shade — was spent futilely searching for the “there” there, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. If there was a downtown Phoenix, we couldn’t find it back then. It just seemed to be a mass of sprawl in the desert.

Because I had imagined Scottsdale to be just another Phoenix suburb, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of… Continue reading

Beavertail cacti bloom in Kanab Creek, Grand Canyon National Park. Photo by Mitch Stevens.

Beavertail cacti bloom in Kanab Creek, Grand Canyon National Park. Photo by Mitch Stevens.

In the spirit of the holiday season — and getting into shape after indulging in all those holiday parties — I’m running a guest post from my fellow Tucson, Arizona, resident Mitch Stevens, founder of Southwest Discoveries.

Mitch or one of his trained guides at Southwest Discoveries will take you on a personalized hiking tour in the Tucson region or around Arizona, including the Grand Canyon and Sonoran Desert.  His market is primarily baby boomers and multi-generational hiking groups, which is how Mitch and I originally connected.

Appropriately, Mitch writes about the benefits of going hiking (which I can now do in the winter, having recently relocated from upstate New York to sunny Tucson — following in the footsteps, as it were, of countless other baby boomers heading south and west).

So I’ll hand… Continue reading

One of the Galapagos' most handsome gentlemen. Photo by Catharine Norton

One of the Galapagos’ most handsome gentlemen. Photo by Catharine Norton

Everyone has heard of the Amazon, but how many are familiar with another great Brazilian natural wonder, the Pantanal wetlands? Or the spectacular Bolivian salt flats known as Salar de Uyuni or Chile’s Atacama desert? South America is filled with natural wonders that don’t always get the press they deserve. Here are seven of our favorites, including both the famous and not-so-famous — but all remarkable.

The Galapagos

Lying more than 600 miles in the Pacific off mainland Ecuador, the remote Galapagos Islands possess perhaps the best preserved ecosystem in the world. This is where Charles Darwin got his inspiration for his Theory of Evolution, after observing the unique birdlife here during his 19th-century voyage aboard the Beagle. The islands are a true natural laboratory, each with distinct species of birds, reptiles and other creatures.… Continue reading

Whitewater rafting trips are one good option for baby boomer adventurers. Photo from Whitewater Connection

Whitewater rafting trips are one good option for baby boomer adventurers. Photo from Whitewater Connection

Over the past several years, I’ve had the following exciting, sometimes scary, often challenging, but ultimately exhilarating adventures:

  • Summiting a peak in British Columbia, then rappelling down the side of a cliff onto a glacier.
  • Whitewater rafting in Nepal on class IV and V rivers.
  • Riding a camel in the Sahara and Sinai deserts.
  • Hiking for a week over the hills and dales of County Kerry in southwest Ireland.
  • Feeling the rush of whales diving directly under my Zodiac and surfacing less than 20 yards away in Glacier Bay, Alaska.
  • Biking 45 miles from the top of Maui’s Mount Haleakala to the shores of the Pacific, the world’s longest downhill bike ride.
  • Swimming with piranhas in the Amazon.
  • Mushing a dogsled team in Finland.

And I’ve done them all after the… Continue reading

Sydney Greenstreet in "Casablanca." Peter Lorre was in it, too.

Sydney Greenstreet in “Casablanca.” Peter Lorre was in it, too.

I confess: I’ve dined on KFC in Nairobi, Big Macs in China, and A&W in Kuala Lumpur.

I’ve watched Bob Newhart reruns in Zimbabwe, ordered bacon and eggs in Mumbai, and visited the Holiday Inn in Swaziland.

There are times when seeing a familiar face — even Colonel Sanders — has proved reassuring while traveling in distant lands.

But usually not.

When I go abroad, in fact, I’m almost always drawn to the remote, the exotic, the unfamiliar, the unpredictable. Give me the jungles of the Amazon to the shores of Waikiki, the tea houses of Hong Kong to the salons of London, the ends of the earth to the easily accessible hubs.

When it comes to travel, I’m a hopeless Romantic, spurred by images on old postage stamps and scenes from Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre movies.… Continue reading

The Zambezi Queen sails the Chobe River near Victoria Falls.  Photo from Mantis Collection.

The Zambezi Queen sails the Chobe River near Victoria Falls. Photo from Mantis Collection.

Zanzibar…Swaziland…Mozambique…

There’s something about the letter “Z” in a name that says “exotic” to me.  And I’m drawn to every place, geographic feature, form of transport, or travel-related entity that has a “Z” in it.

That’s what first took me to the Zambezi River in south-central Africa, which, naturally, runs between the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Zambezi pour over Victoria Falls, one of the world’s great natural wonders, on two occasions — an unforgettable experience.

So I was very glad to learn that this May, Mantis Collection is launching the “Zambezi Queen Collection,”  a four-vessel fleet of river boats — or “floatels,” as they call them — that provide access to the Zambezi and Chobe river systems, which occupy the region where the countries… Continue reading

The Aranui 3 sails the remote Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

The Aranui 3 sails the remote Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. Photo courtesy of Aranui 3.

Some of the most interesting things you pick up at a huge travel-trade gathering like this past weekend’s New York Times Travel Show are what I would call tidbits — not big enough for an entire blog post, but nonetheless fun stuff.

Here are a few of my favorites from the show:

* You have to love a company — in this case Lion World Travel — whose eastern USA director of sales’ business card is, quote, “made by hand using the sanitized fibre from the dung of elephants, rhino and other wild herbivores of Africa.”

I didn’t get to meet the director of sales — Kathi Scott of Toronto — but her “100 % natural, 100% African, 110% recycled” paper business card intrigued me enough that I googled Lion World Travel and… Continue reading

Crowds at the New York Times Travel Show.

Crowds at the New York Times Travel Show.

Each winter, the New York Times Travel Show draws hundreds of exhibitors — national tourism bureaus, tour operators, and various travel-related organizations, among others — to meet the public and try to lure them to their destination or onto their tours and the like. It’s the largest such trade and consumer show in North America.

There are also dozens of travel-related talks and seminars you can attend led by veteran travel writers, publishers and broadcasters, some beautifully costumed women dancing on stages representing various nationalities, some free food giveaways, a number of special travel discounts good only at the show, and various other enticements.

With winter slush outside, it’s the perfect time to get people thinking about warm-weather destinations or at least traveling somewhere when the weather gets warm.

I was there this weekend making contacts for StrideTravel.com, the new travel… 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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