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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

Venice has always been one of my favorite cities. If there’s a more beautiful city in the world, I haven’t found it. And millions of other people would say the same.

And therein lies the problem: Millions of people visiting (and tromping through) one of the most fragile cities on the planet — at the rate of 80,000 per day in summer, far outnumbering Venice’s own residents.

After all, the city is built on a lagoon, canals snake through its heart, and its centuries-old palazzos, churches, and art treasures are subject to erosion, flooding, and tsunamis of tourists as well.

It’s been called a “poster child for overtourism” — meaning, simply, too many tourists for its own good, compounded by massive infusions of cruise ship passengers and other day-trippers. It’s remarkable that any gondolier worth his stripes can maneuver his full craft through the gondola-traffic-choked canals and still… Continue reading

Woodstock Memorial at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Richie Havens' name appears first. Photo by Clark Norton

It was the cultural touchstone of my generation — three days of peace, love, and, of course, music, mud, and skinny-dipping.

Somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 young people somehow made their way to Max Yasgur’s farm in New York’s Catskills, drawn by almost mysterious forces that seemed to transcend even the lure of hearing Jimi, Janis, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, and Jefferson Airplane perform at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, as it was formally known.

More than 50 years later, the joke goes, at least ten times that many aging baby boomers swear they were at Woodstock, too — perhaps aided by memories of watching the movie and listening to the soundtracks while engulfed in a smoky haze appropriate to the occasion.

I can say with certainty that I was actually there — until, that is, I became one of the few benighted boomers… Continue reading

Sunday afternoon in Ueno Park, Tokyo.
Sunday afternoon in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Photo by Catharine Norton

I don’t envy the Japanese officials who are trying to stage an Olympics in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, word is that they considered cancelling the whole shebang just three days before the Opening Ceremonies.

According to polls and protests, a majority of Japanese aren’t on board with the Games, due to rising COVID cases, limitations on their activities, cost overruns, and, of course, the usual scandals that surround any Olympics. Sponsors like Toyota aren’t happy either, and are downplaying their roles.

Some $15 billion has been invested in the Games so far, with no spectators allowed except for the media and a smattering of VIPs. How many bento boxes from the mostly deserted concession stands can they consume?

The weather is hot and muggy and may be brewing a typhoon.

The director of the Opening Ceremonies was… Continue reading

I know I am. And it appears from the graphic below that most other Americans are as well, though caution still prevails among some — and I can’t blame anyone for that.

After conducting a survey on travel sentiment earlier this year, IPX1031 re-visited the topic six months later to see how feelings toward travel have changed now that vaccines have been rolled out and many restrictions have been lifted across the country.

Here are the highlights of the survey findings:

  • 85% of respondents are optimistic about traveling in 2021 (up from 48% in January 2021).
  • 75% plan to travel in 2021 (up from 58% in January 2021). 
  • Among that 75% who plan to vacation this year, 71% plan to travel within the U.S.
  • 55% have already booked their trips. 
  • 71% of respondents feel safe flying right now (up from 48% in January 2021).
  • 59% of respondents have budgeted… Continue reading

Vacation rentals can provide an excellent alternative to staying in hotels while traveling, but there are possible pitfalls you need to know before you book with VRBO or Airbnb.

Guest poster David Goldstein, who has extensive experience staying in vacation rentals abroad (as my wife and I did in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan; the island of Milos in Greece, and elsewhere), explains:

By David Goldstein

My wife and I have been booking vacation rentals through VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) and Airbnb for almost 20 years.

Both platforms offer great options for travelers who are looking for something a little different than a typical hotel experience. We enjoy the freedom that having our own place in a foreign city allows. We grocery shop in the local markets, explore the neighborhood bakeries, and start to get a sense of new cultures.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say… Continue reading

Note: This story was originally written and published at Thrifty Traveler, a flight deal and travel website. It has been republished here with their permission. You can read the original story on the Flight First Rule on their website.

By Kyle Potter

Thrifty Traveler

Most travelers follow a similar script when planning any trip: Set the dates, pick a spot, book a hotel, book a flight, and go.

You’re doing it wrong: That’s a recipe to pay too much for flights almost every single time. But four simple words could help you significantly cut the cost of airfare every time you fly. And no, it’s not by clearing your cookies or booking flights on a Tuesday. This is even bigger than that.

We call it The Flight First Rule. And it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Instead of deciding on the dates of your trip before booking your flights,… Continue reading

Expats can lead the good life abroad — but loneliness may set in during a pandemic Photo from Madagascar-tourisme.com

While international travel restrictions may be easing somewhat, people living overseas still face difficulties getting vaccinated, being comfortable taking long flights, and perhaps facing long quarantines if they wish to go home for visits.

Many are retirees or other baby boomers who have not been able to see children and grandchildren for more than a year.

Guest writer Jack Warner tackles the issue of what my old sociology professor would call “expat alienation.” Translation: loneliness and other tough stuff to deal with.

By Jack Warner

Much of the world has been living under lockdown measures for more than a year, as countries across the globe have put travel restrictions in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

One often overlooked set of victims has been expats, unable to travel to visit… Continue reading

This fresco from Pompeii illustrates the decadence of upper-crust Roman dining — pass the vinum, please; anyone for sala cattabia?

As I was browsing through some of my late mother’s memorabilia on Roman times — she taught classics at George Washington University for years — I came across an interesting set of recipes attributed to M. Gavius Apicius, said to have lived in the time of the emperor Tiberius (AD 14-37).

Tiberius, stepson of Augustus Caesar, was reputedly a nasty fellow and some of the contemporary Roman cuisine seems to reflect that. (More on that in a moment.)

Apicius himself was reputed to have spent a fortune (one hundred million sesterces!) on food and, when facing starvation due to his eventual impecuniousness, drank a vial of poison. But before that he had written two cookbooks and established himself as the Mario Batali of his day.

According to an author named… Continue reading

MSC cruises sail the world. Photo from MSC Cruises
A year ago, MSC Cruises had the last remaining cruise ship at sea. Photo from MSC Cruises

Based on that headline, things are looking up!

The travel and hospitality industries — airlines, restaurants, hotels, cruise lines — have taken the brunt of the economic hit during the pandemic. Estimates are that at least $500 billion of travel business has been lost in the U.S. alone.

With about 10 percent of the world’s population employed in some travel-related occupation, the global cost has been staggering, and many smaller operators, especially — tour companies, family-run restaurants, inns and the like — have struggled to survive or been forced to close down permanently.

Now, even with COVID cases still raging in many parts of the U.S. and the world, some 200 million Americans (out of 330 million) have received at least one dose of vaccine — and the travel industry is moving into… Continue reading

You could be back in the air very soon. Photo by Artturi Jalli, Unsplash

With the European Union announcement that fully vaccinated travelers should be able to fly to Europe at some point this summer, sufficiently jabbed baby boomers can take advantage of some truly exceptional airfares currently being offered to the Continent.

There are also some lower-than-low airfares to Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and within the U.S. Some are almost mind-boggling.

But you have to know where to look — and just as important, when to look.

That’s where the website ThriftyTraveler.com comes in.

By subscribing to its Premium service, you’ll get email notifications of hot airfare deals around the globe within minutes from the time they appear — which is good, because some of these deals disappear within a matter of hours. Thrifty Traveler considers a fare worth writing about if it’s $250 or more off… 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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