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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

Boomers are willing to spend to take experiential trips such as walking tours in Ireland. Photo from Walking the World

Would you take a walking tour in Ireland now — and tell your friends about it? Photo from Walking the World

As dedicated travelers, what are we to think of the concept of “travel shaming” — the notion that it’s irresponsible to travel or even plan future trips during a pandemic?

According to a recent New York Times article, people desperate to get out of their houses after months of self-quarantining are heading off on the road — but are traveling on the sly, reluctant to post pictures on social media or even to tell friends they’re leaving, for fear of being judged.

As the Times quoted Harvard Business School assistant professor, Jillian Jordan, who studies moral psychology: “The pandemic presents a unique case of travel entering the moral sphere, because there are two things that happen when you travel: The first is that I put myself at risk, and… Continue reading

Thien Hau Pagoda Buddhist Temple in Saigon’s Chinatown. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In Part I of Robert Waite’s two-part series on traveling to Vietnam, Vietnam Visit Stirs Emotions for Boomers, Bob recounted his recent visits to Hanoi and Halong Bay.

In this post, he travels to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnel complex dug by the Viet Cong outside the city — but much closer to it than you might imagine.

Saigon itself is a bustling city that evokes stark memories of the Vietnam War, but is also now a prime “foodie” destination and a place to drink at a bar made famous by big-name war correspondents:

By Robert Waite

Part II of a two-part series.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – The thing about name changes is that they often don’t stick. Take Mumbai, for example. The Indian national government decided that “Bombay” was… Continue reading

Hanoi’s 1911 Opera House is a prime example of the city’s French colonial architecture. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

In this post and the next, Contributing Writer Robert Waite recounts his recent journey to Vietnam, the country that helped define a generation of baby boomers.

Forty five years after the fall of Saigon, which effectively ended the more-than-a-decade-long Vietnam War, a visit to Hanoi still stirs emotions, whether you were pro- or anti-war in the 1960s and ’70s.

Yet even as long ago as 1997, when I last visited Vietnam, the majority of Vietnamese — born after the war — seemed to hold few if any grudges against Americans.

Our roving correspondent, himself a baby boomer, delves into the war history but also the sights and experiences that make Vietnam one of the most intriguing countries to visit in Southeast Asia today.

First up are the capital, Hanoi, and beautiful Halong… Continue reading

Part of my phillumeny collection

Last year, I confessed to being a hodophile (which is just a fancy word for someone who loves to travel).

Now I’m admitting to being a phillumenist.

If you don’t know what a phillumenist is, don’t worry — I didn’t even know it myself until yesterday, when I came across the word in a trivia quiz.

A phillumenist is someone who, naturally enough, engages in phillumeny: namely, collecting souvenir matchbook covers and match boxes. The word was coined in 1943 , derived from the Latin “lumen” for light, “philo” for loving, and “ist” for one who does something.

It’s apparently a particularly popular hobby in the UK, though major collectors are scattered across the globe.

My own collection dates from my childhood, and, truth to tell, I haven’t really practiced much phillumeny since the 1980s; my interest waned, and labeled matchbooks are also less ubiquitous… Continue reading

Steep steps lead to the top of temple 216 in Yaxha, but the view from the top is worth it. Photo by Robert Waite.

In the first part of this two-part series, contributing writer Robert Waite described his visit to Tikal, Guatemala, the enormous ruins of one of the world’s great archaeological wonders, which 2,000 years ago was larger than ancient Rome or Beijing.

In Part II of this series, Bob writes about his travels to another stunning Mayan archaeological site nearby — Yaxha — and finds humor and cultural insights amid the ancient pyramids.

By Robert Waite

On the morning we left Tikal we headed for Yaxha, 30 km (19 miles) to the southeast, with our new guide, Cesar Quinones.

Yaxha is Guatemala’s third largest Mayan archaeological site (after Tikal and El Mirador) and boasts 500 structures spread along a hilltop stretching about three km (two miles).

Located… Continue reading

Tikal’s Temple I rises to a height of 154 feet (47 meters). Photo by Robert Waite.

For those planning their post-COVID travels, or who just like a good read, our roving contributing writer Robert Waite sets foot this time in the fabulous Mayan ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, which flourished two millennia ago in the jungles of what is now Guatemala.

It was the New York of its day, a massive complex complete with “skyscraper” temples, plazas, and palaces. When it seems safe to go, you may well want to add it to your future travel plans.

By Robert Waite

Tikal, Guatemala – Anyone who still buys into the myth that the Americas needed to be discovered by Columbus to be “civilized” has not wandered among the pyramids or across the expansive plazas of Tikal.

Beginning around 350 B.C. and stretching into the 5th century A.D., at a time… Continue reading

Sacha Lodge, as seen from the lake. Photo from Sacha Lodge

I have no idea why I came to trust Dave.

The man loved snakes, scorpions, and spiders.  I hate spiders — and I’m not too keen on snakes or scorpions.

But this was the rain forest, where Dave seemed at home, and where, to me, everything seemed strange and foreboding.

I watched as a line of ants, dwarfed by the leaves they were hauling, marched past my feet.

I listened as distant howler monkeys made eerie noises like the wind wailing through the trees.

I cringed as a bright yellow spider made its resolute journey across the shoulder of one of my companions. Dave’s face lit up as he snatched the spider and held it in his palm, showing it off like a trophy.

“Completely harmless!” he announced. Anne, the young woman who provided the shoulder, merely shuddered.… Continue reading

Skating on the Rideau Canal — one of Ottawa’s most popular winter pastimes. Photo from Canadian National Capital Commission.

Contributing writer Robert Waite,  having led us on an odyssey through his recent (but pre-COVID) travels around the globe — including Laos, Cambodia, Albania, Namibia, and Rwanda — now appropriately turns his attentions to his sheltering home base: Ottawa, Canada.

I have fond memories of my own visits to Ottawa, even attempting to skate a stretch of the iced-over Rideau Canal during the annual Winterlude festival. Demonstrating my nearly non-existent ice-skating skills, I persevered all the way to our destination — which must have been at least 100 yards away (the length of an American football field!). Not bad for 45 minutes, eh?

However, as a confirmed arachnophobe, I may have to pass on the National Gallery of Canada on my next visit. To find out why and much more,… Continue reading

This morning I received an email (below) from  Scott’s Cheap Flights, which is my go-to website for airline deals.

Scott Keyes’ site regularly turns up airfares that are 50 percent off the regular price, and sometimes up to 90 percent off  — but they’re often good for just a day or two, so you need to act fast. (Sign up to get email notifications of the daily deals.)

But acting fast to grab great fares (and with airlines anxious to fill seats again, they are plentiful) isn’t easy in the midst of a pandemic — because it’s difficult to know what the situation will be next year, much less a month or two from now.

While I’ve been on the cautious side of the when-is-it-safe-to-fly debate — as a baby boomer, my age puts me in a higher-risk category — I found Scott’s take on the risks… Continue reading

Young Buddhist monks with modern Buddha figure in temple near Bayon Temple. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Here’s Part II of contributing writer Robert Waite’s recent journey to Siem Reap, Cambodia — home to the vast ruins of temple Angkor Wat, and much more. (If you missed Part I focusing on Angkor Wat, read it here.)

Here, Bob tours another huge temple complex complete with strangler trees, takes in a surprisingly good  local circus, tangles with an oxcart, and takes a boat ride on a lake mostly devoid of water — all recounted with Bob’s deft descriptions and appropriately dry wit.

By Robert Waite

Siem Reap, Cambodia

You come to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat, but you’d be wise to stay on and take in other area attractions. First and foremost there is Angkor Thom, another huge complex, one that served as the last and most enduring capital… 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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