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One of the covered bridges in Putnam County. Photo from coveredbridgecountry.com.

One of the covered bridges in Putnam County. Photo from coveredbridgecountry.com.

Just about every writer has tried to mine his or her high school reunion story as some sort of transformative journey into the past that sheds some kind of brilliant new light on the present or future.

So much so that some magazine editors have proclaimed, “Please, no more high school reunion stories.” But that’s the beauty of a blog — I can write what I want, and you can choose whether or not to read it.

Having just attended my, ahem, longtime reunion with 46 other high school classmates (of a class of around 114, 27 are deceased, and 40 didn’t show, so the majority of those still alive did come), I’m naturally inclined to do the same, mulling over headlines like “You Can Go Home Again” or “You Can’t Go Home Again,” depending, I guess, on which… Continue reading

A pair of Pick-Pocket Proof Pants, Adventure Traveler style, from Clothing Arts. Photo from Clothing Arts.

A pair of Pick-Pocket Proof Pants, Adventure Traveler style, from Clothing Arts. Photo from Clothing Arts.

Reading a post this morning on global travel scams — mostly involving pickpockets in some way — reminded me to recommend a pair of trousers that I traveled to Europe with this spring in anticipation of possibly encountering, well, pickpockets.

And indeed, while crossing the crowded Charles Bridge in Prague, our Insight Vacations guide warned our group of travelers (all travel journalists) to guard our wallets, since Prague — and the  Charles Bridge and Old Town Square in particular — are havens for the light-fingered folks who prey on unwary tourists.

While pickpockets can be very clever, I felt safe in my Pick-Pocket Proof Pants™, as they’re called, made by a New York company called Clothing Arts. Every pocket is secured by zippers, covers and buttons, so you can layer… Continue reading

Boomers -- especially boomer women -- book more travel online than any other group. Photo from Adventure Women

Boomers — especially boomer women — book more travel online than any other group. Photo from Adventure Women

I’ve come across some statistics that should of interest to any travel marketers who wonder whether to reach out to women, boomers — and boomer women in particular.

In a previous post, I wrote about how boomer women spend the most money on travel.

Now, new findings show that if you’re basing a travel marketing campaign on social media, it pays to aim it toward women. 

With the exception of Linked In, where the majority of users are men, women dominate social media in the U.S., according to findings published at FinancesOnline.com (compiled from reports by the Pew Research Center and others).

Here are the stats: about three-quarters of adult women in the U.S. use Facebook, compared to two-thirds of the adult men.

For Pinterest, women outnumber men 33 percent… Continue reading

New York's LaGuardia Airport -- sometimes saving money just isn't worth it.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport — sometimes saving money just isn’t worth it.

Booking airplane flights these days is one of the most confusing and potentially aggravating of all travel activities, which is why a lot of folks just leave it to travel agents.

But since I can do it myself online, I do. Just like millions of other passengers — including lots of baby boomers — I like the sense of control.

But how much control do we really have? Dotcom sites like kayak, skyscanner, priceline, hotwire, Expedia, Orbitz, CheapoAir, etc. etc. will all give you a range of prices, but they’re only good for that particular time — they can change (often drastically) day by day, hour by hour, even minute by minute.

Sometimes you find a great fare only to learn a few minutes later that it’s sold out — but wouldn’t you like to book this other… Continue reading

Many European trains have dramatic views. Photo from Brendan Vacations

Many European trains have dramatic views. Photo from Brendan Vacations

Like many baby boomers, when I was in my 20s I spent a lot of time — sometimes months at a time — riding European trains.

On shorter trips, when I would purchase separate tickets from one point to the next, I would always travel second class, and had some memorable experiences meeting the locals — and, from time to time, having to sleep in the corridors because the trains were so packed.

Once, riding the Spanish trains between Malaga and Barcelona, I spent 24 hours without a seat, standing up, lying down when possible, but having a blast sharing food and drink with my fellow seatless passengers, trying as best we could to understand each other in our respective broken Spanish and English. (Remember, I was in my 20s.)

But on my longer trips around Europe, I would buy… Continue reading

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas should wow cruisers with its

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas should wow cruisers with its “virtual balconies” offering sea views to occupants of inside cabins. Photo from Daily Telegraph.

At the “What’s New in the Cruising World” industry trade seminar at the New York Times Travel Show in Manhattan this weekend, representatives from six major mainstream and premium cruise lines talked up some innovations that cruisers can expect to find on their latest ships in 2014.

The six did their best to try to wow travel agents (and some from the media) and get them fired up to sell and promote the new cruise season, which should be of interest to many cruise-loving baby boomers — and to some new cruise converts as well.

The innovation that impressed me most was Royal Caribbean’s “virtual balcony,” coming to its Quantum of the Seas ship scheduled to debut later this year.

What’s a “virtual balcony?” Well,… Continue reading

The Diamond Princess -- ready for a meaningful cruise. Photo from Princess Cruises.

The Diamond Princess — ready for a meaningful cruise. Photo from Princess Cruises.

At the big annual New York Times Travel Show, held in frigid Manhattan over the weekend, it seemed a good time to think about cruising, preferably to tropical waters (though come the dog days of summer I’ll be pining for Arctic voyages, I’m sure).

So I crashed a seminar on what’s new in cruising aimed at travel agents, but open to the media. The panel had representatives from six of the largest mainstream and premium cruise lines that cater to the American market: Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruise Line and MSC Cruises.

In my next post I’ll talk about some of the new cruise ships and features for 2014 that I heard about,  but today I want to focus on the answers that the cruise line reps… Continue reading

Ryanair is not known for its comfort, but at these prices...photo from Alamy

Ryanair is not known for its comfort, but at these prices…photo from Alamy

British newspapers and travel trade publications are all abuzz with the news that the CEO of Ryanair, the cut-rate European airline, plans to offer flights to New York and Boston from  a number of European cities for prices as low as 10 euros per seat.

That’s about U.S.$13.70 by today’s exchange rates. Flights back to Europe would cost even less, about U.S.$10.

Not bad. Of course, there are some caveats.

First, Ryanair will have to buy up to 50 long-haul aircraft to make the flights worthwhile, and that could take several years.

Second, not all the seats on the plane would be that cheap. “There will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats,” the CEO, Michael O’Leary, told the Irish Hotels Federation in Meath, Ireland, where he made the announcement.… Continue reading

Boomers are willing to spend to take experiential trips such as walking tours in Ireland. Photo from Walking the World

Boomers are willing to spend to take experiential trips such as walking tours in Ireland. Photo from Walking the World

While travel industry advertisers continue to pursue the Millennial market — perfectly reasonable, considering that the Millennial generation is the future — it makes no sense to overlook the currently booming baby boomer travel market.

Here are some statistics — gathered from both government and private research surveys — to ponder if you think boomers (now aged 50-68) are over the hill, travel-wise, and are largely staying at home, maybe watching TV or tending their flower gardens:

* Adults over age 50 account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel in America

* Adults 55 and older spend half of all vacation dollars in the U.S.

* Baby boomers make most of their major purchases, including big-ticket travel items, over the Internet, and spend two hours… Continue reading

A boat sails through Qutang Gorge, one of the fabled Three Gorges, along China's Yangtze River. Photo by Liu Liqun/ChinaStock.

A boat sails through Qutang Gorge, one of the fabled Three Gorges, along China’s Yangtze River. Photo by Liu Liqun/ChinaStock.

River cruising has been one of our big topics recently, and for good reason: it’s the hottest segment of the cruising market, and it’s become a global craze, especially popular among baby boomers.

Asia is one of river cruising’s new hotspots, and while China’s Yangtze River cruises have been around for a while,  it’s hard to think of a better way to experience the country than cruising through China’s heartland, with visits to Shanghai and Beijing on either end of a nine-day river voyage.

Pacific Delight Tours, one of America’s leading tour operators to China, has just announced a two-week all-inclusive package that includes those three highlights — as well as transpacific airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco to boot (airfare from JFK in New York will… 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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