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The Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota, celebrates the often-derided (but also beloved) meat product. Photo by Robert Waite.

Here’s the latest from one of my favorite guest posters, Robert Waite (who I’ve known for longer than I care to admit). Whether or not I agree with Bob on any particular travel issue, I always find his work to be thoughtful, provocative, and always beautifully crafted. In this piece, he had me hooked by the first line: “I miss travel.”

By Robert Waite

I miss travel.

Not the airport part, nor the inevitable logjam whenever I try to motor my way to a client. That’s not travel; that’s self-inflicted torture.

What I am talking about is the anticipation of experiencing new vistas, or the excitement of returning to a special place.

In this age of social distancing, physical travel has all but ceased. Sure, you can watch endless re-runs of Rick… Continue reading

I’m pleased to announce that my latest book,  Secret Tucson, has been published by Reedy Press of St. Louis and is now available for purchase at Tucson area bookstores, online at, or from Reedy Press.

What’s Secret Tucson about? The subtitle, A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure says it all, though I would add you’ll find such nuggets as:

What one time New York crime boss spent his last decades in Tucson?

Why does the Beatles’ classic song “Get Back” include a nod to Tucson?

Why is Tucson a must stop on many treasure hunters’ maps — and where can you search for a fortune in gold?

Where was John Dillinger captured in Tucson in 1934 after a series of blunders by his gang?

What locale is home to both the country’s southernmost ski resort and a World War II Japanese-American relocation camp?… Continue reading

Times Square on New Years' Eve -- I'll be watching at home

Times Square on New Years’ Eve — I’ll be watching at home

The one time I don’t like to travel during the year is between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Theoretically, it’s the week when I clean up my office, get my affairs in order, and enjoy more time with family and friends. Oh yes, and watch some football, especially my beloved Michigan Wolverines, who often play in a bowl game on the morning of January 1 so I have to be abstemious the night before.  Go Blue!

In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way, but I still prefer spending New Year’s Eve at home with my wife, Netflix, and clam dip, unless we’re invited to a small party with nearby friends or family. I lived in New York for 20 years and never made it to Times Square to see the ball drop — not on… Continue reading

Cruises are a common source of military discounts and onboard perks. Photo by Clark Norton

Cruises are a common source of military discounts and onboard perks. Photo by Clark Norton

Readers: This is the third and last in a series of travel deals and discounts especially aimed at U.S. active duty and military veterans.

Writing for the website, Alex Miller has compiled a comprehensive list of online resources for vets to save money on leisure travel. Today Alex looks at deals on theme park tickets and cruises.

By Alex Miller

Buying Theme Park Tickets as a Military Veteran

Military rates help families save on visits to some of America’s most popular theme parks. Here are some resources:

Disney World Military Ticket Rates: Active and retired members of the U.S. military are eligible for special deals at Walt Disney World. By visiting Disney’s Military Ticket Rates site, veterans can check eligibility, look over deal terms, and learn how to take advantage of… Continue reading

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


Research has shown that as we get older, we tend to become more altruistic

As “narcissistic and materialistic values wane in influence” (with age) writes Jim Gilmartin, CEO of the Chicago-based agency Coming of Age, which specializes in marketing to baby boomers and seniors,”concern for others increases.”

In the travel field, this trend has helped fuel the rapid rise of volunteer vacations, also known as “voluntourism”

The concept is simple: rather than go on a more traditional vacation, such as taking a cruise or staying at a resort, you sign up with a company or agency that sets you up to work on a project such as helping in wildlife conservation, building classrooms and  homes, or improving local water systems, usually in the developing world.

Yes, you pay for the privilege of helping others, but it’s not necessarily all work and no play, and benefits accrue to the travelers… Continue reading

Dear Readers, 

While I’m traveling in Antarctica for a few weeks I’ll be reprising some of my most popular posts from the past three years. This post — now updated — originally ran in June 2013. 

Spirit interior cabin -- photo by Spirit Airlines

Spirit interior cabin — photo by Spirit Airlines

Cut-rate Spirit Airlines has developed an interesting marketing approach. They’ve traded in customer service and comforts for ultra-low fares, and are charging extra for everything from rolling carry-on bags ($35-$55) to water ($3 a bottle), and printing a boarding pass at the airport ($10). Can pay toilets be far behind?

Spirit hypes what it calls its “bare fare: No’free’ bag. No ‘free’ drink. A ticket with us gets you and a personal item from A to B.”

For “personal item,” think average purse size or a small backpack. Measurements are stingy — 16” x 14” x 12” — and if you don’t pay… Continue reading

Sixth in a Series:

A Chinese symbol inside the Red Pagoda -- if you rub it, it's said to bring good fortune. Photo by Clark Norton.

A Chinese symbol inside the Red Pagoda — if you rub it, it’s said to bring good fortune. Photo by Clark Norton.

Like all rivers, China’s Yangtze is constantly changing, though in this case humans have produced the most profound recent changes rather than nature.

The huge Three Gorges Dam project has resulted in the water level rising more than 100 to 300 feet, depending on the location and the season, along a particularly scenic stretch of the river known as the Three Gorges. The gorges, while not as dramatically steep as the pre-dam versions, are still scenic and still well worth seeing, as my wife, Catharine, and I discovered on a recent Yangtze cruise with Victoria Cruises.

The rising waters have even opened up new scenery to explore: one excursion from our ship, the Victoria Katarina, took us on a ferry ride down the… Continue reading

First in a three-part series. 

While all European rivers offer memorable scenery and an alluring array of port stops ranging from big cities to atmospheric villages, they also differ from each other in significant ways. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which river cruise is right for you. (Keep in mind that itineraries may vary a bit among the different cruise lines.)

The Danube

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, overlooks the Danube. Photo by Clark Norton

>Europe’s second longest river is second to none in romance, scenic beauty and high culture. Most one-week Danube itineraries run between Nuremberg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary, with stops in Vienna, Austria, and a voyage through Austria’s scenic Wachau Valley along the way. The Wachau Valley features the town of Dȕrnstein – where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned during the Crusades – and the nearby town of Melk, home to a… 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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