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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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Like most travel writers — not to mention millions of other dedicated baby boomer travelers — contributing writer Robert Waite is getting itchy to hit the road again once the COVID pandemic cools down.

But while many of us are eyeing new, bucket-list destinations, Bob is dreaming of returning to some of his old (and newer) favorites — to seek out more-in depth experiences and parts of countries that he missed.

It’s sort of a “been there, done that — but want to do it again” list. I can definitely relate to that (are you listening, Greek islands?).

By Robert Waite

Ottawa – What is a travel writer to do?

With borders closed and previously booked trips delayed or cancelled, one is left to journey only within the confines of one’s imagination.

And what I have been imagining recently are the places I have been to previously – ones to which I would love to return, once the pandemic passes.

I’ve come up with seven. But first there are some things I need to get off the table. London and Paris are not on the list – wiser men than I have said if you tire of visiting those cities, you are dead. I am still alive, if not always kicking.

I have also excluded North American destinations. Sorry about that Lake Louise, Quebec City, Bar Harbor, Yosemite, and Kauai.  

So here they are: my seven places I’d love to return to, in no particular order:

Berlin’s famous Pergamonmuseum is filled with artworks from ancient Babylon, Islamic cultures, and classical antiquity. Photo by Lia Norton

Berlin

I visited this city several times during the 1970s, traveling from Warsaw (where I was living) and seeking relief from the stupefying drabness of Soviet-imposed communism.

I returned two years ago to find one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. I was only there for six days and wished it had been six weeks. Great museums, parks, cafes, restaurants, and cultural events. Berlin Babylon, indeed!

Cable Bay is just one of Nelson, New Zealand’s striking landscapes. Photo courtesy of nelsontasman.nz

Nelson, New Zealand

If I were to pick a place to spend a Northern Hemisphere winter, this would be it. It’s a pleasantly small (50,000) city nestled on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, at the top of the country’s South Island.

The setting is picturesque, the people friendly, the cost not too dear – plus you have access to some of the world’s most striking landscapes. Not to mention millions of sheep.

Buddhist monks line up for alms of sticky rice in Laos. Photo by Robert Waite

Laos

I visited Luang Prabang in January 2020 and vowed I would return to see more of the country.

Laos remains relatively untouched by the region’s rush to modernity, maintaining a countryside tranquility reminiscent of Bhutan. My guide suggested that next time we make our way by boat further up the Mekong, bringing bikes along for shore excursions. Count me in.

Orsono volcano from Lago Llanquihue, Lakes District, Chile. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Lake District, Chile

Not to be confused with England’s Lake District, Chile’s terrain is much more dramatic, punctuated by Andean peaks, including the odd active volcano.

You can swing between Chile and Argentina by boat and bus – there are great places to stay on both sides of the border. And the wine from either country is fantastic.

African wildlife, such as these colorful zebras, are high on the author’s “return” list. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Zimbabwe

I visited this south-central African nation in 2018, primarily to view Victoria Falls. It was the dry season; I now want to go back in the wet.

But it is not just about seeing the Falls at full force; we had just enough of a taste of the wildlife to wish to return. After visiting Namibia, Rwanda, and South Africa on the same trip, a return to Africa is high on our agenda.  

 

Boomers atop Masada in Israel; now the author wants to see more of the country. Photo by Clark Norton

Israel

In 1993 I mysteriously received two airline tickets from Air Canada allowing me to fly anywhere in the world – gratis, as long as I did so within 90 days.

Never one to look a gift 747 in the cargo hold, but lacking vacation time, my wife and I flew to Tel Aviv and spent six whirlwind days in the Old City of Jerusalem, visited the West Bank, Masada, the Dead Sea, and the Negev desert.

It was a fascinating taste of the place, but left us wanting more: experiencing Tel Aviv and the country’s north, including the Galilee region. COVID-willing, our entire family will be heading there in December. We plan to visit Jordan as well. 

Royal Wawel Castle garden with Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Krakow, Poland

I first visited this Polish city in 1971 while driving from England to Moscow; I spent most of a summer there in 1973; and visited again several times in 1977, when I was a correspondent based in Warsaw.

By some miracle Krakow was left largely untouched by the two World Wars and has retained much of its Medieval charm.

The old city center, with its Rynek Glówny (market square) and St. Mary’s Basilica, a 14th-century Gothic church, is postcard-worthy. The city’s ancient Wawel Castle, seat of power for Poland’s kings, is also a must.

So that’s my list of seven places I’d love to return to linger longer. We may still be hunkered down due to COVID, but we can dream.

Author Bio:

Robert Waite has been writing on travel for more than 50 years. He currently teaches at Seneca College in Toronto and is Managing Partner at Waite + Co., a communications consulting firm with offices in Boston, Ottawa and Toronto.

For further reading:

Read Robert Waite’s post on Luang Prabang, Laos.

Read Lia Norton’s posts on Berlin, here and here.

And as I write this, today is Mardi Gras. While parades have been cancelled and bars are closed in New Orleans, you might want to check out my experiences tossing out beads from a float in a past parade.

Reader Comments:

Great list, Clark. Would love to hear what places would be on your list.

SteveA
Sanzalone@edc.org

Clark Norton Replies:

Great idea, Steve. Look for it in another post soon!

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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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