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National Parks

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

 

No more almost-free senior lunch at U.S. National Parks: The price of a lifetime America the Beautiful Senior Pass rises sharply from $10 to $80 on August 28, 2017.

The Senior Pass, available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents age 62 and above, has cost just $10 since 1994, making it one of the great travel bargains in the world.

At $80, it will still be a good deal, just not the steal it is now. If you already have one of the $10 passes, it will be honored for your lifetime.

Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies:

 

  • National Park Service
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Forest Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers

Senior Pass Benefits 

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

The passes cover entrance and day-use recreation fees… Continue reading

Bison roam Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Bison roam Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

National Travel & Tourism Week, which runs this year from May 7-13, is a time to celebrate the impact that travel and tourism have on the U.S. economy.

And it’s huge. According to the U.S. Travel Association:

  • In 2016, domestic and international travelers spent a combined $683 billion on leisure travel in the U.S.  When you add in business travelers, the total is almost $1 trillion — some $31,500 spent  per second.
  • That same trillion-dollar spending generated $2.3 trillion in total economic output in the U.S., factoring in an additional $1.3 trillion spurred in other industries, such as retail.
  • The travel industry supports 15.3 million American  jobs — 8.6 million directly in the travel industry and 6.7 million in other industries.
  • One of every nine jobs in the U.S. is dependent on the… Continue reading
Budapest's Parliament building is Hungary's top must-see attraction . Photo by Clark Norton Can't afford to fly to Budapest? Try using kayak.com or Google Flights. Photo by Clark Norton

Budapest’s Parliament building is Hungary’s top must-see attraction . Photo by Clark Norton

Most of us, when we travel to another country, probably have in mind at least one “must-see” attraction., usually an iconic structure, museum, historic site, or natural wonder.

Examples might be Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, the Roman Colosseum in Italy, and the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary.

Recently, TripAdvisor — which has propelled itself into the world’s leading travel site and travel data bank — released a map of Europe displaying the “one thing you must do in each country, according to tourists.” (I found it in the Huffington Post.)

For most countries, the results were pretty true to form: The Roman Colosseum in Italy; The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium; the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Tallinn Old Town in Estonia; the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece; the… Continue reading

The Northern Lights, best viewed above the Arctic Circle,took the top spot on this Bucket List survey;

The Northern Lights, best viewed above the Arctic Circle,took the top spot on this Bucket List survey

While I prefer the term “Life List” to “Bucket List” — it just has a more positive ring to it — Bucket List has become the generally accepted phrase for delineating those often-challenging, mostly travel-related experiences you want to do before you, uh, can’t do them any more.

As a baby boomer, I’m acutely aware that I won’t have as much time or perhaps physical capacity as a millennial to, say, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, which has recently slipped off my Bucket List until  I can work myself into better shape. A few more years on the treadmill should do it, if my knees haven’t collapsed in the process.

The good news is, Bucket List items don’t have to involve super-strenuous exertion. In fact, according to a recent TotallyMoney.com survey of 1,000… Continue reading

Bison roam Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Bison roam Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Cotopaxi, a company that makes backpacks, jackets and other outdoor gear — and donates a percentage of its earnings to worthy causes around the world — has come out with an infographic in celebration of this year’s 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service.

It shows the top five U.S. National Parks in terms of annual visitation, plus five “Hidden Gems” that are far less visited.

The top five visited National Parks, in order, are Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain, California’s Yosemite, and Yellowstone, which extends over parts of three states: mostly Wyoming, but also Montana and Idaho.

I’ve visited all of the most popular ones at one time or another, but have to admit I’ve never been to any of the Hidden Gens: Washington’s North Cascades, Florida’s Dry Tortugas, South Carolina’s… Continue reading

Third in a Series 

Peek a Boo Slot Canyon - Hiking the EscalanetNote: In our first two guest posts from Mitch Stevens, founder of Tucson-based Southwest Discoveries — which runs guided hiking tours of Arizona and the Southwest — Mitch gave riveting accounts of “The Most Beautiful Hike in the Southwest” and “The Incomparable Stevens Arch.”

His Hiking the Escalante series that appears on his website focuses on the extraordinary Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument in southern Utah.

In today’s guest post, Mitch takes you into Dry Gulch, Spooky Gulch, and Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon.

The names alone are enticing, and if you’re looking for some adventure and what Mitch calls “spectacular solitude” deep in the heart of southern Utah’s no man’s land. you may want to add them to your life list.

As Mitch notes, though, these are not suited for hikers who are overly claustrophobic or with limited… Continue reading

Today we have a guest post from Mitch Stevens, who runs a terrific Tucson-based company called Southwest Discoveries,  which specializes in hiking tours in Arizona and elsewhere in the Southwest.

This is the first post in a series that Mitch has written about “Hiking the Escalante,” showcasing the beauty and splendor of the awe-inspiring formations created by the Escalante River in southern Utah. It will give you a good sense of hiking Coyote Gulch, what Mitch calls the “most beautiful hike in the Southwest.” (And that’s saying a lot.)

Not incidentally, Mitch welcomes — encourages — baby boomers to join his hiking tours. This one is for active, fit boomers who enjoy the best that nature has to offer.

By Mitch Stevens

Hiking Coyote GulchCanyons are the Southwest’s magnificent natural cathedrals.

Sheer cliffs, red rock walls, ancient geologic sculptures and dozens of tributaries await the adventurous trekker when… Continue reading

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from atop Crabtree Falls. Photo by Lia Norton

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from atop Crabtree Falls. Photo by Lia Norton

During our recent visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, where our daughter, Lia, lives and works, my wife, Catharine, and I had the chance to leave the city a bit and explore the attractions of the nearby region.

Since it was our third visit to Charlottesville, we had already toured Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and the Jefferson-designed University of Virginia campus, sporting some of the country’s finest architecture. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Now it was time to see some of the nearby cities, take some scenic drives, negotiate some hiking trails, absorb some additional culture, visit some wineries, and even make a pilgrimage to the factory that produces my favorite potato chips. (Special thanks to Lia, her boyfriend, Mike, and their trusty Prius for chauffeuring us around.)

So here are my top… Continue reading

The lifetime Senior Pass for national ;parks and recreation areas is just $10.

The lifetime Senior Pass for national ;parks and recreation areas is just $10.

One of the best perks for turning 62 — if you’re a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident — is the “Senior Pass” that allows those aged 62 and over to enter any of the U.S. national parks, monuments, and recreation areas for all of ten bucks. Let me repeat that. That’s a “ten” with one zero.

And that’s not all, fellow baby boomers! The pass is good for life. It never expires until you do (and if you never expire, so much the better!).

And wait, there’s more! You can get your pass as you drive into many of those same parks and recreation areas. Just ask the attendant at the gate, show some proof of age (driver’s license is good), and you can usually get your pass on the spot. For $10.

Those under 62… Continue reading

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona's photogenic Red Rock Country. Photo by Michael Madsen.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona’s photogenic Red Rock Country. Photo by Michael Madsen.

When I moved to Tucson in late 2015, one of the first people I looked up was Mitch Stevens, who runs a tour company called Southwest Discoveries, which specializes in hiking and walking tours in some of Arizona’s most spectacular scenic areas.

While Southwest Discoveries is relatively new, Mitch is an old hand at leading hikes and tours, with an extensive background at the helm of Sierra Club outings. He’s particularly interested in drawing baby boomers to his tours, which is how we originally connected.

Mitch has lived in Arizona for decades and is a walking encyclopedia in the geology, archaeology, history, and culture of the Southwest.

Arizona’s searing summer heat levels off in Autumn, with October and November ushering in perfect hiking weather that lasts throughout the winter and into spring.

Red Rock Country

Mitch has… 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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