The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Travel Copywriter
When riding a camel, .I just wart to get there. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

When riding a camel, .I just wart to get there. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Based on years of informal polling of friends and family, most everyone has pet peeves about words, phrases or expressions that leave them feeling like they’ve just heard chalk squeaking across a blackboard.

(I don’t know if teachers still employ chalk and blackboards, but baby boomers will remember.)

Words that irk. Phrases that irritate.

Many have to do with the workplace. For example, my daughter once had a friend who was a chef and couldn’t stand the word “meat.”

One of my brothers-in-law who works in business hates jargon-y business words like “parameters.”

My wife, a longtime magazine editor, is driven up a wall by nouns turned into verbs,  such as “impact.”

A friend who is an avid cook despised the word “dollop,” to the point where he almost refused to serve sour cream in his house — though eventually he got over it.

To the rest of us,. these may seem like perfectly good words, and so I completely understand if you do not share my disdain for the word “enthusiast” — as in “ski enthusiast,” “diving enthusiast,” or “golf enthusiast.”

I  think I’ve read one — well, one thousand — too many press releases that use this loathsome word . “For the golf enthusiast in your family, blah blah blah” — I just stop reading at that point. (Perhaps oddly, I don’t mind the words “enthusiastic” or enthusiasm” at all.)

Avid divers will find the Great Barrier Reef something to be enthusiastic about.

Avid divers will find the Great Barrier Reef something to be enthusiastic about.

My specific reasons for hating “enthusiast”are hard to define and  may be irrational, but that’s not the point. As someone who works in the travel field, they’re real to me.

The Most Irksome Travel-Related Things That People Say or Write

And so I bring you my personal list of overheard and overused travel expressions, cliches, words, headlines, and  comments that I hope never to hear or read again — but of course will, because that’s how they got to be cliches.

A number of these, by the way, have been popularized by travel writers — perhaps including myself, though I hope not.

“Been there, done that” — an arrogant, cynical, dismissive  phrase that suggests that just because you’ve been somewhere,  you’ve done or seen all there is to see or do there. No, you haven’t.

Yes, this is real money (in Hungary). Photo by Clark Norton.

Yes, this is real money (in Hungary). Photo by Clark Norton.

“Oh, don’t go there — you’d hate it” — when someone gives me advice like this, it makes me want to go there (wherever it is) all the more, because it raises my curiosity. What is it they found so offensive?  Let me judge for myself.

“Is it safe to go there?” — if you use common sense and stay out of dark alleys and drunken brawls at night, and you’re not in the middle of a war zone, it (again, wherever it is) is probably just as safe as back home. Just remember that they drive on the left side of the road in Britain and its former colonies, and don’t go bungee jumping with an agency called “Splat Adventures,” and you’ll probably be fine.

“How much is that in real money?” — this all too frequent question overheard in shops overseas is what gives American tourists a bad name. It’s not funny — it’s just dumb.

 Photo by Clark Norton

Photo by Clark Norton

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” — this trendy maxim may be true at times, such as when hiking or going for a drive, but when you’re flying for 14 hours packed into coach class over the Pacific, it’s definitely the destination.

“I’m a traveler, not a tourist”  — yes, I know that being a “tourist” has bad connotations, like couples dressed in matching outfits following a guide like sheep through the streets of Florence, and I know you’re above all that. But if you’re traveling for pleasure and  set foot in a museum or even stop to admire the Eiffel Tower, you’re a tourist. And, just to be clear, you’re also a traveler –the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

“Ten Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of” — This one is a favorite feature of online travel publications, often cynically used as “click bait” to get you to read their post. I suppose you could say it’s an intriguing headline, but it’s also insulting to anyone who has heard of those places.

“Enthusiast” — I just couldn’t leave it off the list.

Readers, I’d love to hear about any travel expressions, maxims, words, phrases, or cliches that give you that chalk-on-blackboard shiver.

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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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