Google Analytics Alternative

The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Travel Copywriter


Sunday afternoon in Ueno Park, Tokyo.
Sunday afternoon in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Photo by Catharine Norton

I don’t envy the Japanese officials who are trying to stage an Olympics in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, word is that they considered cancelling the whole shebang just three days before the Opening Ceremonies.

According to polls and protests, a majority of Japanese aren’t on board with the Games, due to rising COVID cases, limitations on their activities, cost overruns, and, of course, the usual scandals that surround any Olympics. Sponsors like Toyota aren’t happy either, and are downplaying their roles.

Some $15 billion has been invested in the Games so far, with no spectators allowed except for the media and a smattering of VIPs. How many bento boxes from the mostly deserted concession stands can they consume?

The weather is hot and muggy and may be brewing a typhoon.

The director of the Opening Ceremonies was… Continue reading

You could be back in the air very soon. Photo by Artturi Jalli, Unsplash

With the European Union announcement that fully vaccinated travelers should be able to fly to Europe at some point this summer, sufficiently jabbed baby boomers can take advantage of some truly exceptional airfares currently being offered to the Continent.

There are also some lower-than-low airfares to Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and within the U.S. Some are almost mind-boggling.

But you have to know where to look — and just as important, when to look.

That’s where the website comes in.

By subscribing to its Premium service ($59.99 a year) you’ll get email notifications of hot economy-class airfare deals around the globe within minutes from the time they appear — which is good, because some of these deals disappear within a matter of hours. Thrifty Traveler considers a fare worth writing about if it’s $250… Continue reading

Nikko's arched Shinkyo Bridge spans the Daiya River.

Nikko’s arched Shinkyo Bridge spans the Daiya River.

Last in a Series. Nikko, Japan, is just 72 miles (120 km) and two hours north of Tokyo by train, but seems a world apart.

Situated at an elevation of more than 4,200 feet (about 1,300 meters) and sporting crisp, clean mountain air, Nikko’s central area reminded us of an alpine village, including some chalet-style architecture and a roadside stand dispensing crêpes.

A mountain river tumbles through a gorge and forests fill the mountains. Hot springs, hiking trails, lakes, and waterfalls grace Nikko National Park, which borders the city of 85,000. And UNESCO World Heritage Sites are within walking distance of Nikko’s central square.

Nikko National Park and a World Heritage Shrine

While Nikko is an extremely popular day trip from Tokyo, we stayed overnight and are glad we did. It gave us time to absorb the atmosphere and explore Nikko’s… Continue reading

Gold lanterns light the way in one of Nara Park's many shrines.

Gold lanterns light the way in one of Nara Park’s many shrines.

Seventh in a Series

Just an hour by train from Kyoto, Nara is a sometimes-overlooked jewel of a city that has played a key role in the historical and cultural life of Japan.

Often visited on day trips from Kyoto — certainly possible if you get an early start — Nara is well worth an overnight stay to keep from being too rushed. We stayed two nights and didn’t regret it, even though we had to change hotels after one night due to a booking error.

If you have more time, Nara is also a convenient base for exploring the surrounding countryside and villages filled with history, hot springs, and, in  season, cherry blossoms.

Nara Park and World Heritage Sites

Japan’s first permanent capital during the 8th century AD before the imperial base was moved to Kyoto,… Continue reading

Many ryokans -- traditional inns -- offer public baths. Photo from Japan National Tourism

Many ryokans — traditional inns — offer public baths. Photo from Japan National Tourism

Sixth in a series

Taking a public bath in Japan can be a wonderfully relaxing experience — as long as you know the rules.

Our introduction to the baths came at Kyoto’s Funaoka Onsen, located on a nondescript street about a half hour’s walk from our Airbnb.

Here one can slip into a variety of hot and even hotter mineral-water pools, both indoors and out, and remain there until you start to boil. There’s also a sauna in case you need some roasting.

The residual effect is incredibly soothing and the perfect way to unwind after a day spent sightseeing or climbing small mountains.

Funaoka onsen is one of Kyoto’s oldest and finest public baths, though the most picturesque and authentic onsen are in the countryside and fueled by Japan’s multitude of hot springs.

But… Continue reading

The bamboo grove at Arashiyama

The bamboo grove at Arashiyama

Fifth in  a Series

At first, it wouldn’t seem that heading to some of Kyoto’s most popular attractions during cherry-blossom season would qualify as an escape.

But the key to finding the peace and quiet we were seeking amid the throngs, my wife Catharine and I found, was to just keep walking — and climbing — once we got there.

On the same day we visited the Ryoan-ji Zen rock garden and the Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden Pavilion), we boarded an antique narrow-gauge railway that carried us in romantic style to Arashiyama on the western outskirts of Kyoto. (You can also take more modern trains from Kyoto station, or take a bus or the subway.)

It was obvious when we arrived that however they had gotten to Arashiyama, a good portion of everyone visiting Kyoto had conspired to visit at the same time as… Continue reading

Buddha in the gardens at Ryoan-ji temple, Kyoto, Japan

Buddha in the gardens at Ryoan-ji temple, Kyoto, Japan

Fifth in a Series

Kyoto has so many cultural and spiritual treasures that spending just a few days there can be an exercise in frustration.

But once you accept the fact that no matter how long you stay, you’ll probably only scratch the surface of what’s there, you can zone into a sort of Zen state and do and see just what you can. I’m sure most visitors, as we did, vow to return in the future to take in more. Still…

Even coming back

Many times will never be

Enough so chill out

Well, I never was very good at Haiku, but acceptance of the inevitable is key. Pick your battles and go forth and conquer what you can — even in the crush of visiting hordes.

I was impressed with the Zen-like demeanor of a German couple we met… Continue reading

Some cherry trees still held their blossoms.

Some cherry trees still held their blossoms.

Fourth in a Series

In most years, we would have landed in  Tokyo right at the peak of cherry blossom season.

Alas, my wife, Catharine, and I arrived in the Japanese capital a few days too late in early April this year because the winter there had been unseasonably warm and most of the delicate cherry blossoms had already drifted off the trees in this breezy city.

Nonetheless, some trees remained in full bloom, as did many other types of fruit trees. And as we walked through parks that offer a wonderful respite from Tokyo’s crowded streets, scores of Japanese families were still laying out their traditional picnic blankets and baskets under the cherry trees, blossoms or no. And having a great time of it.

From our little Airbnb-rented apartment in the teeming Shinjuku district, we set out to explore… Continue reading

Yasu furnished us a pictorial guide of the route to his Airbnb

Yasu furnished us a pictorial guide of the route to his Airbnb

Third in a Series

Arriving in the Shinjuku train station, Tokyo’s busiest, can be a bit intimidating, especially after a trans-Pacific flight with little sleep and in the middle of rush hour.

An unfailingly polite people in every other way, Japanese commuters plow through the station like bullet trains, with little deference to gobsmacked tourists staring in bewilderment at the maze of signs and passageways. These folks appeared to be on a mission, and accomplishing that mission — getting to wherever it is they’re going — wasn’t about to let us stand in their way.

If you don’t like crowds, you might want to avoid Tokyo — the world’s largest metropolitan area at nearly 38,000,000 people — and beat a quick retreat to the Japanese countryside.

Fortunately, our Airbnb host, Yasu, had provided us with a video of… Continue reading

Sunday afternoon in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

Sunday afternoon in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

Second in a Series

My previous travel experiences in Japan had been very brief before my wife, Catharine, and I flew off to Tokyo in early April, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

How much of a language barrier would we find? Is Japan as expensive as it’s reputed to be? Would we face greater-than-average logistical  problems there?

Those taking an organized tour to Japan can avoid most of these potential problems, of course, but — just as some people enjoy figuring out how cars or watches work — I like figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B while traveling as efficiently and economically as possible.

I also like to follow my own schedule, choose my own lodgings and restaurants, and not have to follow a guide around. (This isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed some wonderful… Continue reading






Sign up to follow my blog

 Follow me on Twitter
 Connect on Facebook
 Amazon Author page
 Connect on LinkedIn

Travel Writing Blogs


Getting On Travel Top Boomer Travel Blog 2018 Badge










NATJA SEAL-Gold winner

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.

Auto Europe Car Rental