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A male Impala hosts a bird on his back at Sabi Sands area private reserve near Kruger National Park South Africa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

A male Impala hosts a bird on his back at Sabi Sands area private reserve near Kruger National Park South Africa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Today’s guest post by Stuart Cooke of Northern Ireland hooked me with his first great reason to take an African safari: “Africa is Incredible.”

I couldn’t agree more. My first experience visiting the “Third World” was decades ago in Africa. I was traveling there for six weeks on assignment for a news service I worked for, and was supposed to be writing political stories.

I did manage to pound some out, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I quickly discovered that I wanted to see and experience as much of Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries as I could. So I rode trains to Lake Victoria and Zambia, flew to Zanzibar, feasted on Indian food in Nairobi, spent a few idyllic days on the Indian Ocean… 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

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

Approaching Gibraltar by cruise ship. Photo by Clark Norton

Approaching Gibraltar by cruise ship. Photo by Clark Norton

In the brief aftermath of the stunning British vote to depart the European Union, UK google searches have surged on — among other topics — “getting an Irish passport” and “move to Gibraltar.”

Getting an Irish passport makes a certain amount of sense, since Ireland is part of the EU and if you want to stay in it, you could move to Ireland.

Moving to Gibraltar — the famous Rock and one of the original “Pillars of Hercules” that guards the entrance to the Mediterranean like a sentinel — is a little puzzling, though, since it’s a British Overseas Territory and will presumably have to exit the EU as well.

Still, 96 percent of the voting population among Gibraltar’s 30,000 residents marked their ballots for “Remain” (in the EU), so those moving to Gibraltar would presumably find lots of sympathetic ears.… Continue reading

Note: This is the first in an occasional series of “chance encounters” with famous people while traveling.

The New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, back in the day

The New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, back in the day

It was May 1977,  and I was sitting at an outdoor table in the Thorn Tree Cafe of Nairobi, Kenya’s, New Stanley Hotel, nursing a Tusker beer and alternating glances between the local paper (“Saboteurs Hit Uganda!” blared one headline) and the other patrons.

I chuckled at some members of the well-heeled safari set sipping bubbly at a nearby table, looking slightly ridiculous in their pith helmets and bush jackets.

But I have to admit, I was a bit envious of them. I was on my first overseas reporting assignment for a news service I was working for at the time, and, after several days of frustration, the stories just weren’t materializing — in truth, I didn’t know what I… Continue reading

Flowering ocatillos add splashes of red to the desert landscape. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Flowering ocatillos add splashes of red to the desert landscape. Photo by Catharine Norton.

Though hardly a household name outside its region, southern California’s  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the Golden State’s largest, spanning some 600,000 acres of the Colorado Desert about two hours’ drive northeast of San Diego.

Anza-Borrego has rugged canyons, badlands, mesas, nature trails, campgrounds, oases, cacti gardens, Native American rock art, and wildlife, all surrounded by rugged mountain ranges, the latter of which are virtually all road-free wilderness areas.

My wife, Catharine, and I just spent several days there with friends from California — hiking, rock scrambling, seeking out springtime blossoms, four-wheel driving over sandy, bumpy “roads” leading to remote outposts of  desert boulders and vegetation, and searching in vain for signs of desert bighorn sheep, the elusive animals that take to Anza-Borrego’s  mountainous, rocky terrain. (“Borrego”… Continue reading

Penguins are funny creatures, especially when out for a walk or a run. Photo by Catharine Norton

Penguins are funny creatures, especially when out for a walk or a run. Photo by Catharine Norton

Having just returned from an unforgettable Antarctica cruise aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s five-star expedition-style ship Hanseatic, I experienced first-hand the fact that penguins are very funny animals.

Penguins are ubiquitous in many parts of Antarctica and on the many islands of the Southern Ocean, including South Georgia, where we spent three amazing days gazing at penguins as far as the eye can see.

They walk funny, then talk funny (some of them sound just like braying donkeys), they even stand funny (especially the poor fellows who are molting and look totally morose because they can’t go in the water at that time).

And they’re particularly funny when they run, especially when the penguin chicks are chasing their parents for food.

It’s possible that this parent thinks it’s time junior went out on his own… Continue reading

This is one of the beautiful images you'll find on StrideTravel.com. Photo by Dennis Cox.

This is one of the beautiful images you’ll find on StrideTravel.com. Photo by Dennis Cox.

“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”

“Less Planning, More Experiencing”

“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”

These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)

In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.

“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading

Santorini's harbor is part of an ancient volcanic caldera that wiped out Minoan civilization. Photo from Visit Greece.

Santorini’s harbor is part of an ancient volcanic caldera that wiped out Minoan civilization. Photo from Visit Greece.

Here’s Part 2 of our two-part series on Ten Top European Natural Wonders, starring five more incredibly scenic spots on land, on water, and up in the sky:

The Greek Island of Santorini 

If you bypass the often-crowded Aegean island of Santorini — also known as Thira or, in ancient times, Thera — due to its popularity as a sun-soaked tourist destination, you’ll also be missing one of the most memorable and expansive seascape panoramas in all of Europe.

Few views can compete with those from a terrace perched high atop the cliffs overlooking Santorini’s deep, seven-by- four-mile circle-shaped lagoon, formed from a mostly underwater caldera left by a titanic volcanic explosion some 36 centuries ago. One of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in history, it wiped out the island’s… Continue reading

An iceberg in Tracy Arm, Alaska -- great for summetime viewing. Photo by Catharine Norton

An iceberg in Tracy Arm, Alaska — great for summetime viewing. Photo by Catharine Norton

Yes, I know it’s getting cold and snowy in many parts of the country, and Alaska may seem an odd choice when contemplating future travels during the post-holiday doldrums, especially when it’s sleeting outside.

But it’s not too early to begin planning your summertime Alaska vacation, which for most people involves a cruise and perhaps a land tour before or after the shipboard experience.

Generally speaking, to be assured of securing space on the ship you want and the type of cabin you prefer, it’s wise to book an Alaska cruise in January or February (especially if you require family-sized cabins in mid-summer, popular with multi-generational groups).

Last-minute discounts that are often available for other cruise destinations are harder to come by in Alaska. The reason is that high demand, combined with a short season… 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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