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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Clark Norton

Travel Copywriter

Here’s an idea I love (complete with a great name):

“Gramping.”

Gramping comes courtesy of the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, located a half mile above Hocking Hills’ scenic Cedar Falls in southeastern Ohio, about an hour and a half from Columbus.

Boomers relax in a hammock at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. Photo from Inn & Spa at Cedar falls.

Boomers relax in a hammock at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. Photo from Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls.

While the Hocking Hills is a popular family camping area, boomer grandparents who travel with their adult children and grandkids may not be as keen on sleeping in tents as are the younger generations.

This is where the Inn & Spa at Cedar falls comes to the rescue with…gramping.

The inn happens to be near Old Man’s Cave Campground, where the younger folks can pitch their tents. After a day’s hiking in the forests, canoeing and exploring the area’s waterfalls, caves and rock formations, the… Continue reading

Boomers still rely on old-fashioned print travel guidebooks -- along with the latest apps.

Boomers still rely on old-fashioned print travel guidebooks — along with the latest apps.

Nancy Parode, who writes about senior travel at about.com, has a perceptive piece detailing eight reasons why a baby boomer or senior would make a good traveling companion. (Although I don’t like to mix the terms “senior” and “baby boomer” — for me, “senior” starts where “baby boomer” leaves off — I understand why others may at times lump them together.)

Among the eight reasons, Nancy writes, is that “We [boomers] don’t need high-tech devices to have a good time” and “won’t get too grumpy if our computers and smartphones don’t work.”

Now, I admit I do sometimes get grumpy in those situations, but Nancy’s point is that baby boomers have lived most of their lives without such technology and can adapt to life without them.

Similarly, she argues, baby boomers still know how… Continue reading

Best Westerns hotels go green. Photo from Best Western.

Best Westerns hotels go green. Photo from Best Western.

Best Western — the world’s largest hotel chain with some 4,000 independently owned and operated properties in 100 countries and territories around the globe — is going green in a big way.

Every North American Best Western — representing more than 2,000 hotels — is required to have at least one green program in place, ranging from offering in-room recycling bins to installing low-flow shower heads and power-flush toilets to using green cleaning products and energy efficient appliances.

Some of its geothermal- and solar-powered hotels actually sell power back to the grid. Others participate in national or international eco-labeling programs. More than two-fifths of Canadian Best Westerns, for instance, have earned Green Keys from the Green Key Eco-rating program, presented by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

Best Western Supply, which offers materials for hotel construction, renovation and operations, features more… Continue reading

Boomers explore Angkor Wat with Classic Journeys. Copyright Classic Journeys.

Boomers explore Angkor Wat with Classic Journeys. Copyright Classic Journeys.

At Classic Journeys — a company that specializes in walking tours with cultural components around the globe, as well as culinary and family trips  — baby boomers are the prime target market.

In fact, according to Classic Journeys co-founder and president Edward Piegza, fully half their guests are aged 60 or older, and, he writes, “their thirst for adventure is alive and well.”

Classic Journeys attracts boomers for all the reasons I’ve been writing about in this blog:

* Itineraries span the globe from Morocco to New Zealand, Turkey to Cambodia, Corsica to Costa Rica, Argentina to Zambia — 33 countries on five continents — helping to slake boomers’ thirst for seeing parts of the world that are off the beaten track. (See my previous post on boomers’ taste for the exotic.)

* Classic Journeys walking trips are adventurous… Continue reading

Dog catching Frisbee invites Provincetown visitors to

Dog catching Frisbee invites Provincetown visitors to “Stay and Play.” Image from iPtown app.

Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the tip of Cape Cod, has unveiled a free smartphone app that takes a whimsical approach to offering information to visitors — “befitting its image,” according to a press release announcing it.

Called iPtown, the app is produced by the town itself and promises the latest in digital technology. Visitors (or locals, for that matter), will be able to connect to businesses directly via phone, get directions “to anything in town a person could ever want to find,” as the release puts it, and generally locate things such as food and lodgings, shops, and special events as well as information like the weather and emergency services.

Known as an artists’ haven, Provincetown is playing off its reputation by featuring colorful images to direct users to different categories of information.

The “Stay and Play”… Continue reading

Hotel bathtub -- luxury or menace for boomers?

Hotel bathtub — luxury or menace for boomers?

One of my pet travel peeves for a while has been hotel bathrooms with high-walled bathtubs that are treacherous to climb into and out of — just to take a shower. The dangers of slipping on a wet surface — either within the tub or the bathroom floor after the shower — are always looming.

In fact, most hotel room accidents are related to bathtubs.

Yes, I admit it — I’m getting older and not as flexible as I once was. Which is true of many baby boomers — a huge number of whom are traveling these days. (The problems for seniors are even worse.)

And it all seems so unnecessary, if all one wants to do is take a shower. When I’m traveling, I seldom have time to take a bath, nor do I wish to. At home, I only take… Continue reading

Holland America ships carry knitting cruisers around the globe. Photo from Holland America.

Holland America ships carry knitting cruisers around the globe. Photo from Holland America.

Having written a column about theme cruises for Porthole Cruise Magazine for five years, I’ve covered everything from Goth cruises to ghost-hunting cruises, murder mystery cruises to psychic cruises, baseball legends cruises to pirate cruises (see my previous post on the latter) and many more.

For those unfamiliar with theme cruises, they involve like-minded groups of people going for a cruise together to spend usually a week or more pursuing a particular subject, including the topics above or others such as motorcycles, blues music, ukulele playing, ballroom dancing or soap operas. The may attend classes, talks, and practice sessions, take specialized shore excursions, and play trivia games and share meals with their fellow devotees. In some cases, they go scuba diving, play soccer at sea, or even run marathons.

The thing that’s struck me most about the… Continue reading

Leopard in tree -- Botswana. Photo by Mark Lakin, Epic Road.

Leopard in tree — Botswana. Photo by Mark Lakin, Epic Road.

Combining luxury and adventure travel — two boomer favorites — with another boomer hot-button, “transformative experiences,” Epic Road offers customized trips that, for now at least, focus primarily on African safaris and the Arctic. Plans are in the works to expand into Asia, and Epic Road will work with clients to set up trips in other regions of the world if requested.

Luxurious adventure trips are offered by a number of other companies. The Epic Road twist is those “transformative experiences,” including specific humanitarian and conservation initiatives that travelers can build into their journeys if they choose. (See my previous post on tours popular with baby boomers that give back to the local communities they visit.)

Started by two longtime friends and devoted world travelers, Mark Lakin and Marc Chafiian, Epic Road’s declared ethos is “to raise… Continue reading

Uniworld's River Queen on the Moselle River. Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld’s River Queen on the Moselle River. Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, whose trademarked slogan is “the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line,” is offering experiences that are right out of the baby boomer promotional playbook.

According to a recent press release, “enhancements for 2014 include delving even more into authentic and personalized travel experiences.”

“Authentic” and “personalized travel experiences,” please note, are exactly what baby boomers are looking for when they leave home.

The press release continues: “Uniworld’s onshore experiences will continue to focus more on flexibility with their ‘Choice is Yours’ options, along with more authentic and enriching experiences with more interaction with local communities, such as their ‘Do as the Locals’ and exclusive ‘Village Days’ offering the ultimate insiders’ experience.”

“Flexibility”…”Choice is Yours” options…”authentic” (again)…”enriching”…”interaction with local communities”…”Do as the Locals”…”insiders’ experience”…

All of the above are words and… Continue reading

The Woodstock Monument Memorializes the 1969 Festival. Photo courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

The Woodstock Monument Memorializes the 1969 Festival. Photo courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Quick quiz: Where was the 1969 Woodstock Festival held?

If you said, “uh, Woodstock?” you’d be…wrong.

Due to various snafus, Woodstock — one of the seminal events of the baby boomer era, which brought many of the top musical performers of the day onto a rain-drenched stage before hundreds of thousands of mud-soaked, tie-dyed and oddly mellow spectators — was actually held in Bethel, New York, some 60 miles away from its original venue.

Bethel happens to be just 13 miles from where I now live.

Recently I took a friend over there to see the memorial monument at the site — now located on the grounds of the beautiful Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which itself has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John and the Dave Matthews Band to… 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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