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Soviet hero V.I. Lenin, who lies in state in Moscow’s Red Square — but was unavailable for viewing during the author’s visit.

Editor’s Note: This is Part II of “Bordering on Madness,” chronicling the adventures and misadventures of Contributing Writer Robert Waite as he journeys from England to Moscow and back in 1971, driving a vintage Triumph Spitfire. As we pick up the tale, he has just entered the USSR after refusing to drive his car into a six-foot-deep concrete pit at the border.

If you missed Part I of “Bordering on Madness,’ you can read it here.

By Robert Waite

On this first day we drove to the city of Minsk, which today is the capital of an independent Belarus, but was then part of the Soviet Union.

The roads were relatively empty, save for a few lumbering, diesel smoke-spewing trucks. We made it to our hotel at about… Continue reading

Robert Waite (center, with hat) and family posing on the Spitfire following the Moscow trip, 1971. Photo from the author’s scrapbook.

While I’ve traveled to Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union, I never had the pleasure of visiting the USSR in all its glory, with its 15 “autonomous republics,” its delightful-sounding “Intourist guides” — who shadowed you night and day — and restaurants where waiters served you mostly bad food when they felt like it, which they usually didn’t.

But fortunately, we have roving Contributing Writer Robert Waite to give us a glimpse into what it was like to journey to the 1971 Soviet Union in what was a highly unlikely form of transport, a vintage two-seater Triumph Spitfire.

Able to proceed only at the whim of the Spitfire’s capabilities, Bob and his companion managed to overcome mounds of aptly named bureaucratic red tape — and a cast… Continue reading

The Roman Coloseum dates from the time of the Roman Empire.

Arrivederci, for now.

So it’s official: the 27-nation European Union will block travelers from the United States from entering their countries indefinitely after reopening their borders July 1 to a number of other nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand — and even China, should the Chinese reciprocate.

So it’s arrivederci Roma, au revoir Paris, and adiós Barcelona — most likely for the summer and probably longer, since the U.S. leads the rest of the world, by far, in confirmed cases of both COVID-19 infections and deaths. And there’s little hope of this tragedy slowing down in the near future, with the virus currently sweeping like wildfire across the American South and Southwest, including the three most populous states: California, Texas, and Florida.

The outlook is equally bleak in Arizona, where I’ve lived for the past five years — and where I’ve seldom ventured from my home for the past three… Continue reading

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan's Famous hot dogs? Photo from Nathan's Famous.

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs? Photo from Nathan’s Famous.

Americans all know about fireworks, barbecues, hot dogs, parades and the other modern-day manifestations of the July 4 holiday, but how much do you really know about Independence Day, especially as it relates to travel or travel destinations?

Take this quiz and find out. (Baby boomers, how well do you remember your history?)

1. True or false: As one of the 13 original colonies, Vermont was the only one that refused to ratify the Declaration of Independence.

2. Which U.S. president was born on the Fourth of July in Plymouth Notch, Vermont?

3. Name two Asian countries where you can now buy a Nathan’s Famous New York hot dog, similar to those gobbled up in the annual hot dog eating contest at New York’s Coney Island:

a.… Continue reading

Photo by Tony Hisgett on flickr

JetBlue is a low-cost carrier. Photo by Tony Hisgett on flickr

Today we’re featuring the second in a series of How to Travel on the Cheap by Jesse Miller, who writes for the website JenReviews.com.

This post is filled with tips on how to save money on different forms of transportation: flying, taking trains and buses, going on cruises, and utilizing public transportation, car services, and my own favorite method of getting around manageable distances: walking.

Here, then, are Jesse’s tips on getting the best deals on what is often the most expensive part of your vacation:

By Jesse Miller

In order to take your trip, you’ll need ways to get around. Because these transportation services are typically the most costly, it’s important to weigh your options based on your budget instead of convenience.

Even though flying is the most common mode of travel when taking a vacation, there… Continue reading

Today’s guest infographic comes from PortableAdvisor.com, a website devoted to RV travel and the “portable lifestyle.”  It’s run by an Irish-American named Rick Rose and his wife Sandy, who have lived life on the road for eight months of each year since 2012.

I can vouch for some of these incredibly scenic highways from personal experience; others remain to be explored, but it’s a terrific list to keep in mind for your next European vacation(s).

The infographic is packed with useful info such as mileage, driving difficulty, seasonal closures, sights en route, and various practical tips.

Here’s the intro and infographic courtesy of PortableAdvisor:

With the rise of budget airlines in Europe, the popularity of driving around the continent has waned. As a result, some of the continent’s most breathtaking locations go unseen as visitors  simply fly from one capital city to the next without taking in… Continue reading

Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) at dawn in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) at dawn in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Note: this is the fifth in a series of Baby Boomer Travel Guides. In our last post, we looked at the options for seeing the Caribbean. Today we focus on means of transport around the Mediterranean Sea.

When traveling around the Mediterranean region, you have a full range of options: taking a cruise ship or ferry boat, driving, taking trains, or flying between destinations.

(If you’re on a guided tour, you’ll most likely be traveling by bus, though other forms of transport may figure in as well.)

How you choose to get around this endlessly fascinating area is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make — maybe the biggest decision — regarding your Mediterranean trip. It will color your entire experience — for the better, we hope.

Each mode of transport has its… Continue reading

The Diamant, Island Windjammers' 12-passenger sailing ship. Photo from Island Windjammers

The Diamant, Island Windjammers’ 12-passenger sailing ship. Photo from Island Windjammers

How you get to where you’re going can be just as crucial to the success of your trip as the destination itself.

And in some cases, the mode of transport is, in effect, the destination.

Ocean cruises are an obvious example of the latter.

When you choose to see the world by cruise ship, you’re committing yourself  to spending most of your time at sea and limiting your sightseeing on land to ports or places that are within a few hours’ drive by tour bus,  taxi, or rental car from the ports.

But ocean- and sea-going vessels come in many shapes and forms — from small sailing ships to  floating behemoths  — that can make for entirely different journeys themselves.

Or say you want to take the Trans-Siberian Express (train) from China to… Continue reading

In my last post, I recommended a terrific book from the Quarto Publishing Group (Voyageur Press), Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements, by Jim Sonderman.

If you ever traveled Route 66 or even just wanted to, you’ll love this tribute to an iconic American highway, the points of interest along it, and, of course, the signage that captured the imaginations of countless travelers — including me and my fellow baby boomers.

Now I’d like to highlight two more travel-related books from Quarto Publishing, which is based in Minneapolis and is turning out a number of excellent titles.

I was drawn to Backroads of Arizona (Voyageur Press, 2016, 2nd Edition), by Jim Hinckley with photography by Kerrick James, because I’m now living in the Grand Canyon State and looking to discover just the kind of “byways to breathtaking landscapes and quirky small towns” that the book’s sub-title promises… Continue reading

240x4009780760349748This year I’ve come across five travel-related books I’d like to highlight.

I think any or all of them would make great gifts for the baby boomer traveler on your list — or anyone else who enjoys a dose of history and adventure with their travels or making new discoveries on the back roads of America.

All are from the Minneapolis-based Quarto Publishing Group USA, under the imprints Voyageur Press and Zenith Press.

I’ll feature all the books in this and upcoming posts.

The first, Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements, is written by Joe Sonderman, with photography by Sonderman and Jim Hinckley. It was issued by Voyageur Press in 2016.

If you remember traveling on Route 66 — or even just getting your kicks by watching the early 1960’s Route 66 TV show starring Martin Milner — you will love this book. It’s guaranteed… 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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