After a year when the COVID-19 virus has devastated the world’s tourism industry and thwarted vacation plans of millions of travelers, vaccinations have arrived that offer hope that 2021 may usher in some return to normalcy.
And none too soon for baby boomers, who have seen precious travel time and opportunities slipping away: cruises cancelled, tours postponed, bucket-list destinations closing their borders.
The fact that all this has been necessary to curb the ravages of the killer virus doesn’t make it any less painful — especially when you factor in the economic toll on tourism-dependent destinations. Estimates are that one in ten jobs worldwide are travel- and tourism-related.
As the travel industry, beset by COVID-19 restrictions, tries to dig itself out of its gravest crisis since World War II, creativity and flexibility in pricing and timing will be key.
Airlines and cruise lines — two of the hardest-hit industry segments — are trying to lure back potential present and future customers by dropping a variety of fees and allowing for late ticket changes and cancellations, among other incentives.
Now the innovative website Travelstride (formerly StrideTravel) has launched FlexiPass by Travelstride, an industry-first travel pass that can be used for an exciting array of tours for 2021 through 2023. And it comes just in time for holiday gift-giving — but don’t delay: sales end soon.
Travelstride — a U.S.-based marketplace specializing in offering multi-day, multi-destination, expertly planned guided and self-guided trips — has partnered with 23 top global tour operators who will accept the passes.
Travelers can choose… Continue reading
Today we feature the latest guest post from contributing writer Robert Waite, who, thanks to his travelogues from around the world over the course of the past year and a half or so, has helped balloon my own voluminous bucket list to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade proportions.
You can now add Canada’s Jasper National Park to that list. Bob explains why:
By Robert Waite
Jasper, Alberta – I had wanted to visit Jasper National Park pretty much from the time I immigrated to Canada in 1986.
Jasper is the largest and most northerly of seven national and provincial parks in the Canadian Rockies that together form UNESCO’s Canada Rocky Mountain Park World Heritage Site.
Known for its magnificent vistas and abundant wildlife, Jasper had been featured endlessly in the travelogues and magazines of my youth, kindling my imagination.… Continue reading
Award-winning travel photographer Dennis Cox and I have been friends since high school. We’ve collaborated on a number of magazine and newspaper projects over the years, and Dennis has contributed many of his photos for use on clarknorton.com.
Our collaboration has worked out well since my photography skills are about on a par with his writing abilities. In other words, if he sticks to camera work and I stick to words, we do OK.
One of our collaborative pieces for United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine, on China’s ethereal Mt. Huangshan, was named Best Magazine Travel Article of the year in 1995 by the Pacific Asia Travel Association. We’ve also worked together on pieces for The Washington Post Magazine, Destinations magazine, the San Francisco Examiner, and other publications.
But we had never done a book together until now. The final product, which we finished earlier this year — Cruising the World: From… Continue reading
I first wrote about medical tourism back in 2013, when it was starting to flourish as a means of saving money on medical care. The premise was that by traveling to other countries — such as India, Mexico, Thailand and others — Americans could receive hip replacements, cardiac surgeries, dental work and other procedures at considerably lower costs than in the U.S.
Then along came COVID-19, with travel to many countries banned or severely restricted. Medical tourism has been one more viral victim.
Today’s guest post, by writer Charlie Fletcher, offers a rundown on the current state of medical tourism — as well as some shoots of hope for the future as the world’s health care and tourism fields struggle to adapt.
By Charlie Fletcher
Medical tourism — the practice of traveling to other countries for affordable medical treatments — had grown increasingly popular among Americans in recent years. Until,… Continue reading
For years, I resisted getting a massage, fearing I was too ticklish and would embarrass myself by laughing out loud on the massage table.
Then one day while traveling with a press group I was offered a free massage and, egged on by the group leader, decided I might as well give it a try.
Five minutes into it, I was already hooked, and would have kicked myself for missing out on all those massage-less years if I hadn’t been so relaxed I couldn’t move a muscle.
This guest post by Dr. Brent Wells, a chiropractor based in Anchorage, Alaska, delves into some of the reasons why massages are particularly helpful to travelers, and gives a rundown of the types of massages you can choose from.
By the way, after having dozens of massages during and after my travels, I’ve never burst out laughing. I did cry out in agony… Continue reading
Today’s timely guest post is from Medicare expert Christian Worstell, who gives an update on how Medicare changes in 2021 can benefit American travelers — assuming we get the opportunity.
It all starts with the distribution of safe, effective vaccines, which could be available soon. And for Medicare recipients, as Christian points out, they’ll be free — just one of several upcoming perks. Here’s the latest:
By Christian Worstell
After a year of isolating at home and waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic, surveys show that once it’s safe, American baby boomers are eager to hit the road and travel again in 2021.
And as they do every year at this time, Medicare-eligible boomers are looking ahead to any changes in their Medicare benefits for the upcoming year.
So, what does one… Continue reading
The last time my wife and I were in Oslo, we did exactly what contributing writer Robert Waite advises against: we skipped town too quickly, flying off to Bergen and our Hurtigruten coastal voyage the day after we arrived.
Walking around Oslo during our free afternoon there, on a beautifully sunny late spring day, we soon realized our mistake. It had been some years since we’d been to the city, and much had changed — by the looks of it, much for the better. But I’ll let Bob delve into all that.
One particular memory stands out among the people we encountered there.
After having dinner at a local restaurant on the evening of our arrival, I left a tip in cash that I knew was way too… Continue reading
Thinking of retiring or moving overseas? It’s a huge step, but one that has been successfully negotiated by many expats searching for mild climates, lower costs, and simple changes of pace and cultural experiences.
The editors of International Living have compiled a list of five good-value countries that currently accept American travelers — and might make good retirement havens to boot. They also suggest specific locations/cities that welcome retirees.
Of course, it’s wise to do a number of scouting expeditions first. If you’re serious about relocating, they’re a must. But even if you’re “just browsing” and not buying, you’ll at least have a chance for a nice vacation.
As the editors stress, the current COVID situation is volatile and situations can change, so before buying your tickets be sure to check the websites of the U.S. State Department and the other countries’… Continue reading
Even as COVID-19 infections reach record highs in the United States, a number of countries have opened their borders to American travelers carrying U.S. passports.
These include popular destinations like Croatia — one of the few European countries now open to U.S. travelers — Turkey, Mexico, and Costa Rica, although some come with major restrictions.
Several Caribbean countries — including Aruba, Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Maarten — also welcome Americans and their dollars, all-important to their economies.
Please note that I’m not recommending international travel at this time, especially if you have any reason to believe you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, or — like many baby boomers — you fall into high-risk categories such as advanced age or underlying medical conditions.
Until the COVID threat passes, you’ll also be… Continue reading