The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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trains

One of Europe's sleek new trains. Photo from Rail Europe.

One of Europe’s sleek new trains. Photo from Rail Europe.

My favorite method of traveling through Europe is by train, and Americans are fortunate to be able to buy Eurail Passes, which offer a variety of ways to tour the continent by rail.

You can choose among the One Country Pass — allowing you to thoroughly explore, say, France, Italy, or Spain; the Select Pass, which lets you choose among two, three, or four bordering countries; or the global pass, good for exploring the whole of Europe, up to 28 countries.

And from now until December 31, you can purchase Eurail Passes at 20 percent off their usual price.

On top of that, you’ll get an extra 15 percent off if two of you travel together on all segments.  (Make sure you choose you travel partner carefully, since you will just have one pass with two names on it,… 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

Here’s Part 3 of  guest contributor Myles Stone’s Viet Nam Diary, featuring his insightful narratives during a recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, during which he received a visit from my son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and my 16-month-old (and already well-traveled) grandson, Conrad. (Myles’ wife, Aimee, and baby daughter, Mimi, rounded out the  contingent of travelers.)

All were born after the Viet Nam War ended in 1975,  and thus bring a fresh perspective to the country that so consumed the baby boom generation in the U.S. during the turbulent 1960’s and early 1970’s.

In this post and the next, Myles recounts a visit to Viet Nam’s old imperial capital of Hue during the late April holiday marking the reunification of the country. As with all his posts, photos are courtesy of the family photographer, wife Aimee.

By Myles Stone

Photos by… Continue reading

St. Petersburg, Russia: can be visited without a visa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

St. Petersburg, Russia: can be visited without a visa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Note: This is the sixth in a series of Baby Boomer Travel Guides and the fourth in the series focusing  on transportation options around the world. Please go here, here, and here for the previous posts. 

Scandinavia and the Baltic States compose far Northern Europe (we’ll cover Germany, The Netherlands, and some other northern European countries in a subsequent post), and feature some of the best scenery, most sparsely populated spaces, and lively yet historic cities in Europe.

Ships and trains offer the most convenient and comprehensive forms of transportation here, but driving among some of the countries is certainly doable.

And Denmark, especially, is well-suited to biking, with plenty of bike paths and flat terrain.

Getting Around The Baltics

The Baltic region is excellent for cruising because the main ports — Oslo,… 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

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

You can now reach Budapest by Eurail pass. The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

You can now reach Budapest by Eurail pass. The Hungarian Parliament Building, illuminated at night. Photo by Clark Norton

Ah, the early ’70s — the halcyon days when I and countless other baby boomers explored Europe (or at least Western Europe) with our trusty Eurail passes, which offered virtually unlimited travel on Western European railways for periods up to three months.

And as I recall, I paid the grand sum of $300 for a three-month pass — and that was for first-class seating.

True, I was usually one of the scruffiest riders in first class at that time — I often used to sleep on the trains to save money, since my budget was the proverbial $5 a day — but in exchange for sharing a compartment mostly with staid businessmen and properly dressed ladies, I had comfortable seating and hardly ever had to stand out or even sleep… Continue reading

The Garden of Earthly Delights, a famous Bosch triptych in Madrid's Prado Museum

The Garden of Earthly Delights, a famous Bosch triptych in Madrid’s Prado Museum

Way back in 1971, shortly after graduating from college, I developed an obsession for the paintings of the 15th-century Flemish master Hieronymus Bosch, whose phantasmagorical — sometimes grotesque — artworks appealed to my psychedelic sensibilities of that era.

I spent days in libraries hand-copying notes from dusty tomes about the artist, sought out all of his works in American museums, and eventually embarked on a three-month pilgrimage to Europe determined to set eyes on every Bosch painting on the Continent.

On my target list were 31 museums and churches containing 58 works of art, scattered across a dozen countries and 26 cities and towns from Copenhagen to Vienna to Lisbon.

My resources were limited: a Eurailpass, a copy of Europe on $5 a Day when it was still called that, and a budget to match.

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

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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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