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Tikal’s Temple I rises to a height of 154 feet (47 meters). Photo by Robert Waite.

For those planning their post-COVID travels, or who just like a good read, our roving contributing writer Robert Waite sets foot this time in the fabulous Mayan ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, which flourished two millennia ago in the jungles of what is now Guatemala.

It was the New York of its day, a massive complex complete with “skyscraper” temples, plazas, and palaces. When it seems safe to go, you may well want to add it to your future travel plans.

By Robert Waite

Tikal, Guatemala – Anyone who still buys into the myth that the Americas needed to be discovered by Columbus to be “civilized” has not wandered among the pyramids or across the expansive plazas of Tikal.

Beginning around 350 B.C. and stretching into the 5th century A.D., at a time… Continue reading

Sacha Lodge, as seen from the lake. Photo from Sacha Lodge

I have no idea why I came to trust Dave.

The man loved snakes, scorpions, and spiders.  I hate spiders — and I’m not too keen on snakes or scorpions.

But this was the rain forest, where Dave seemed at home, and where, to me, everything seemed strange and foreboding.

I watched as a line of ants, dwarfed by the leaves they were hauling, marched past my feet.

I listened as distant howler monkeys made eerie noises like the wind wailing through the trees.

I cringed as a bright yellow spider made its resolute journey across the shoulder of one of my companions. Dave’s face lit up as he snatched the spider and held it in his palm, showing it off like a trophy.

“Completely harmless!” he announced. Anne, the young woman who provided the shoulder, merely shuddered.… Continue reading

Skating on the Rideau Canal — one of Ottawa’s most popular winter pastimes. Photo from Canadian National Capital Commission.

Contributing writer Robert Waite,  having led us on an odyssey through his recent (but pre-COVID) travels around the globe — including Laos, Cambodia, Albania, Namibia, and Rwanda — now appropriately turns his attentions to his sheltering home base: Ottawa, Canada.

I have fond memories of my own visits to Ottawa, even attempting to skate a stretch of the iced-over Rideau Canal during the annual Winterlude festival. Demonstrating my nearly non-existent ice-skating skills, I persevered all the way to our destination — which must have been at least 100 yards away (the length of an American football field!). Not bad for 45 minutes, eh?

However, as a confirmed arachnophobe, I may have to pass on the National Gallery of Canada on my next visit. To find out why and much more,… Continue reading

This morning I received an email (below) from  Scott’s Cheap Flights, which is my go-to website for airline deals.

Scott Keyes’ site regularly turns up airfares that are 50 percent off the regular price, and sometimes up to 90 percent off  — but they’re often good for just a day or two, so you need to act fast. (Sign up to get email notifications of the daily deals.)

But acting fast to grab great fares (and with airlines anxious to fill seats again, they are plentiful) isn’t easy in the midst of a pandemic — because it’s difficult to know what the situation will be next year, much less a month or two from now.

While I’ve been on the cautious side of the when-is-it-safe-to-fly debate — as a baby boomer, my age puts me in a higher-risk category — I found Scott’s take on the risks… Continue reading

Young Buddhist monks with modern Buddha figure in temple near Bayon Temple. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Here’s Part II of contributing writer Robert Waite’s recent journey to Siem Reap, Cambodia — home to the vast ruins of temple Angkor Wat, and much more. (If you missed Part I focusing on Angkor Wat, read it here.)

Here, Bob tours another huge temple complex complete with strangler trees, takes in a surprisingly good  local circus, tangles with an oxcart, and takes a boat ride on a lake mostly devoid of water — all recounted with Bob’s deft descriptions and appropriately dry wit.

By Robert Waite

Siem Reap, Cambodia

You come to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat, but you’d be wise to stay on and take in other area attractions. First and foremost there is Angkor Thom, another huge complex, one that served as the last and most enduring capital… Continue reading

Angkor Wat Temple from the west gate. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Contributing writer Robert Waite, who lately has chronicled his journeys from Albania to Namibia, Rwanda to Laos, didn’t know how well-timed his recent visit to Southeast Asia would prove to be.

Bob says that he and his wife, Karen, had purposely decided to travel to Laos and Cambodia in January of this year — “because January is somewhat cooler and a lot drier than, say, July. As it happened, that was just as COVID-19 was beginning to wend its way out of Wuhan.”

And so, just in time, Bob finally made it to Angkor Wat, one of the top destinations on his life list and the featured topic of Part I of his two-part series about the memorable sights and activities in the area around Siem Reap, Cambodia. Here are Bob’s reflections on visiting one of the… Continue reading

Aly during filming of Red Dirt Road Trip video in Alice Springs. Photo by Amy Shields

One of the great pleasures of writing a travel blog is that I get to hear from travel lovers all over the world.

Recently I got an email from Aly Cook, a singer/songwriter (and baby boomer) from New Zealand who is particularly well known in Australia. Her music — including three albums and a raft of  number one country hits in Australia — combines country with rock, blues, and soul influences.

Among many other awards, she was named New Zealand Female Country Artist of the Year in 2012 and has been nominated five times for that honor.

Aly lives in the town of Nelson, New Zealand, nestled on Tasman Bay on the north coast of the South Island. (Before visiting Nelson some years ago, I had never heard of it. Talk about… 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

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo courtesy of GoldenIsles.com.

Looking for an uncrowded beach this summer where you can maintain social distancing, keeping you safe and virus free?

That’s not easy to do on the East Coast of the U.S.  But according to the website Homes.com, these 10 secluded beaches — situated along the Atlantic Ocean coast from Maine down to Florida — will allow you to relax in or near a beach town in style, away from the tourist hordes.

“Some of these beaches are in state parks or owned by conservation trusts dedicated to preserving coastal land to provide habitat for threatened species. Others are simply local, out-of-the-way beaches untouched by development,” notes Homes.com.

So pack your swimsuit, beach towels, and sunscreen and get ready to stake out your place on the sand. It should be all yours.

Island Beach State Park, Seaside Park, New… Continue reading

Award-winning travel photographer Dennis Cox and I have been friends since high school. We’ve collaborated on several magazine and newspaper projects over the years, and Dennis has contributed a number of his photos for use on clarknorton.com.

Our collaboration has worked out well since my photography skills are about on a par with his writing abilities. In other words, if he sticks to camera work and I stick to words, we do OK.

One of our collaborative pieces for Hemispheres Magazine, on China’s ethereal Mt. Huangshan, was named Best Magazine Travel Article of the year in 1995 by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. We’ve also worked together on pieces for The Washington Post Magazine, Destinations magazine, the San Francisco Examiner, and other publications.

But we had never done a book together until now. The final product, which we finished earlier this year — Cruising the World: From Gondolas to Megaships… 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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