Travel Handbook/Blog

This blog is a travel handbook.  We’ve created it with the over-50 traveler in mind because that’s who we are and, consequently, what we know firsthand. However, the bulk of our content applies to anybody who travels because, to put it simply, travel is the same no matter who you are or, to a large degree, how old you are. The gorgeous sights and sounds of the fabulous destinations we  cover are the same for all, even some of us may have more limited mobility and stamina than a professional mountain climber or may be more interested in savoring a glass of fine wine poolside than swimming 200 laps.

Most of its content will be incorporated and expanded into the forthcoming book Simply Smart Travel: A Handbook For Savvy Over-50 Explorations.

We will also offer occasional trip reports, invite some interesting guest posts and comment on any thing that has to do with travel.

 

Shaghai Bund 7

 

 

Why Travel?

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
Maya Angelou


Travel is a universal impulse. Whether it is journeying across the river in search of food, migrating to a better life, seeking a change of scenery on vacation or exploring the far reaches of the known (and unknown) worlds because they are there, we human beings have been travelers for our whole existence. Our journeys of discovery, conquest or enrichment have long been part of the historical record of mankind and have shaped our very existence.

Most of us travel regularly for many reasons such as vacations, romance, visiting friends and families, following hobbies and special interests. Most of us who work for a living undertake regular journeys to earn our livelihood, even if that only entails commuting to work across town or visiting clients. Almost all of us do –or should—also travel for enrichment because travel is so broadening.

So whether your reasons for travel are necessary or voluntary, moving from one place to another is a fact of life. Why not make the most of it by making each journey suit your needs and tastes and enhance your trips by pursuing your goals and objectives.

In other words, if you are going to travel anyway, why not do it smartly? Our goal at Simply Smart Travel is to help you do just that. To us, smart travel is informed travel, aware travel and molding each journey to suit our individual goals, budget and style, not what others think you should do.

It all starts with awareness. What follows are 20 good reasons (culled in no particular order from conversations with scores of smart travelers and scouring list after list on the web) why people travel. Think carefully about each one and determine which ones appeal and/or apply to you. Once you do that, you are ready to make your next journey a smarter one and become a traveler who makes the most out of each mile traveled and each day and dollar spent.

drum circle

20 Good Reasons People Travel

  1. To recharge your batteries, to de-stress and escape routine, Even if you live in paradise, the daily grind can wear you down. A change of scenery can do wonders for you. You deserve it.
  2. To learn, get new ideas, study on-site, travel for courses, see and absorb other cultures and lifestyles and change your perspective on the world.
  3. To become a smarter person who is more interesting to others and a better conversationalist because of what you have seen and who you have met.
  4. To see unique, spectacular, exotic and amazing sights that only exist in one or at most a very few places on earth and may be disappearing.
  5. To escape a bad or unhealthy climate or environment and search for a better one.
  6. To discovering your heritage and connect with family and tribe. You may not be able to go back home figuratively but you can do it literally and it will open your eyes in surprising ways.
  7. To discover and savor new cuisine and drink and other uncommon luxuries.
  8. To explore religion and spirituality, whether on a pilgrimage or to understand and compare religious beliefs and experiences.
  9. To learn a new language, for work or pleasure.
  10. To work, whether as a commuter, long-term visitor or attendee at a meeting or conference.
  11. To learn new skills and pump up your resume.
  12. To enhance your creativity and productivity by exploring innovations and systems that work, learning from those that don’t and putting new ideas to work at the job and at play.
  13. To pursue special interests from archaeology to zoology.
  14. To find adventure, meet a challenge, compete in sport, be more active or face the unknown.
  15. To learn that experiencing the journey can be a goal in itself, whether traveling across a continent on a train, kayaking an estuary or sailing the seven seas
  16. To accommodate politics, whether on a forced journey away from conflict, learning about the many ways we govern ourselves or seeking new ideas and policies to apply at home.
  17. To make a difference by pursuing peace person-to-person, building something for others less fortunate or dealing with a crisis.
  18. To discover yourself by seeing how others are the same and different, overcome your fears and grow as a person
  19. To find food, seek medical resources and heal.
  20. To come home and appreciate your own bed, be it ever so humble.

Great Wall (58)

How many of these reasons for leaving home apply to you? The more you know about them, the more you will be in a good position to embark on a journey of discovery

not only of the world but of yourself. Give into your wanderlust. You’ll feed your intellect and spirit and be better for the experience.

By Jeffrey R. Orenstein, Ph.D., www.SimplySmartTravel.com and syndicated travel columnist

 

Why Senior Travel Is So Popular

TECO Trolley in Ybor City

 

The American population is aging and on the move. Approximately 40% of Americans are 50 or older and about 13% of the population is 65 or over and the numbers in each category are growing. But far from hanging out on our rocking chairs on the front porch as generations before have been wont to do, we are on the fast becoming known as the travel generation.

We are on the go as never before. According to leisuretripandtravel.com, a full 75% of baby boomers travel and 30% pursue active vacations. When we travel, we no longer just seek out sedate cruises and other trips that are long on leisure and short on activities and sightseeing.

Today’s over-50 travelers are increasingly out there. We’re exploring the world, looking for new tastes and sights, soaking up learning and culture and not afraid of a little adventure. We’re less prone to go for gentle bus tours that start late in the day and get everybody back to the hotel in time for an early dinner and more prone to explore destinations in depth.

Why is this generation so travel-oriented? There are probably as many reasons as there are individual travelers, but here are some of common denominators.

galeon ship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*We are better educated than previous generations and are more interested in and have the conceptual framework needed to appreciate cultural, political and aesthetic dimensions as we travel.

*Though we’ve finished our formal education, our attendance at continuing education courses in such huge numbers shows that we are committed to lifelong learning and yearn to absorb as much as we can in our travels.

*We have more resources than previous senior generations since the social safety net has not been tattered as much for us as for the generations that follow us. We’re probably the last generation that enjoys traditional pensions in large numbers, We’ve climbed the ladder through at least one career (and many of us are in our second or third), and are left with some money in our pocket that we are willing to spend on what we perceive as good travel values.

*We increasingly view travel as a reward for a life of work and sacrificing for others and view the second half of our live as “our time” since we have paid our dues in family and career. While most of us don’t want to spend it all, we’re not interested in passing it all along to our heirs either.

*We grew up with computers at work, live in the internet age and carry smart phones. We are comfortable with technology and are able to easily access detailed information about destinations and styles and modes of travel.

*Senior discounts are common and we are willing to research them and use them to stretch our travel dollars a little further.

*Because medical science has made great strides during our lifetimes and, as a result, we live longer than previous senior generations, we tend to take better care of ourselves. We are at least a little bit healthier and more adventuresome than our parents when they were our age. While we’re not quite as athletic as some (by no means all) twenty-somethings, we’re a pretty fit and adventuresome bunch and many of us are willing to walk, bike, hike, climb and explore on our way to adventure and culture.

*While we like to hang out with our contemporaries, we also enjoy and relate to folks of all ages since we have worked with younger folks and interact with multi-generation families. Senior-only tours and groups appeal to only some of us.

*We’ve honed our tastes so we’re always on the lookout for excellent food, drink and attractions, especially those just off the beaten path. Culinary and wine adventures appeal to many of us.

*Quite a few of us travel on occasion with our children and grandchildren so, when we wind up at the Disney World’s of the world, we look for more than roller coasters while we’re there and the destination developers are happy to accommodate us.

*Tour operators realize our numbers and buying power and are increasingly catering to what we want and creating more active and culturally-oriented senior-oriented tours.

*River cruising with land excursions and good food and drink have become popular and largely cater to the over-50 traveler.While we’re not all the same at 50, 60 0r 70 any more than we’re all the same at 20, 30 or 40, frankly what sets us apart as travelers who are under-50 set is not that much. Nevertheless age has its privileges and we are willing and able to take advantage of them. That characteristic and the interests and habits that define us make us a desirable travel market. We have become a self-fulfilling prophecy…because we got out there, they built it and we came in great numbers. Now they are building more and they hope the cycle will continue. It probably will.

steam passenger train

 

By Jeffrey R. Orenstein, Ph.D. www.SimplySmartTravel.com and syndicated travel columnist.

Next: What is Simply Smart Travel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Simply Smart Travel: Simple is Smart, Smart Is Simple

BY JEFFREY ORENSTEIN, Ph.D.

 

It is an axiom of this book that simple and smart travel that suits your travel needs and wants is the essence of good touring.

In order to explore the various dimensions of simple and smart travel, a few definitions are in order. Once we agree upon what we mean by a few key terms, we will all be  traveling on the same page, so to speak, throughout this book and in our approach to the real world of travel.

 arrivals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Travel?

The most basic tern we need to think about is the very definition of travel itself. In simplest terms, it is the act of going from one place to another, irrespective of whether the trip happens on foot, by car, in a train, plane or ship or via some other conveyance.

Because so much is involved in contemporary travel, regardless of distance covered, travel, at least for the smart travelers we have in mind, involves more than picking a mode and showing up at the station, airport or highway to catch our conveyance. It also involves the often-detailed research and planning needed to get where you are going when you want to get there and in a way you want and can afford. Once you reach your destination, smart travel needs to encompass where you are going to stay and what a you are going to do when you are there if you want as smooth a trip as practical.

 

Simple Travelhikers

To travel well, e.g., smartly, your research and trip choices can’t take place in a vacuum. Making the most of your journey requires that you carefully define your specific travel objectives. We will go into depth on this topic in subsequent chapters. Suffice it to say for now that good simple travel planning requires that your trip dimensions and choices are shaped by the activity level, the luxury level, the level of risk and the needed objectives (business, pleasure, family visit, etc.)  that make you comfortable while getting the job done for you.

Once you think of a trip this way, simply smart trip planning is simply” a matter of tailoring the planning, execution and follow-up to your voyage appropriately and with the fewest self-induced complications possible.

Yes, complications and “stuff” happen. It is a lucky trip indeed when at least some unplanned difficulty does not come up. But you don’t have to increase the likelihood of difficulties ruining your trip by packing the wrong things, scheduling poorly (not leaving enough time between travel connections, scheduling too many moves that entail packing, unpacking, and close connections on local and regional transportation) and making other similar mistakes. Even though travel problems are impossible to anticipate in detail because of their almost infinite variability and unpredictability, you can assume that things can and will go
wrong enroute with little warning and sometimes large consequences. The best way to handle this in your trip planning is to leave time and give yourself enough options to work around obstacles to a smooth trip do something as common as getting into a traffic jam on the way to the train station or a canceled flight or road closure or as uncommon as an earthquake, landslide or flood will not ruin your trip.

In short, the above is what defines simple travel. It is not necessarily no-frills travel but makes our trip the trip as easy as our specific trip goals and needs require. Simple voyaging is not uncomplicated per se and may involve many planned and detailed mode changes and building in adaptations. But done right, these seeming planned complications happen for a purpose and serve to ultimately simplify your life on the road because they build in a scheduling cushion, some downtime for you and anticipate that “stuff” happens. They leave you wiggle room to deal with life in general and life on the road in particular. Travel is complicated enough since you leave your familiar resources and network behind when home recedes in the rear-view mirror. By planning well and doing whatever we can to uncomplicate it and gives us time to smell the roses along the way, we build in flexibility, alternatives and peace of mind. Make your travel simple by uncomplicating it as much as possible. Find and take the path of least resistance that is compatible with your specific trip goals and needs. Simple travel, in a nutshell, is creating a set of solutions and plans for as given trip that are as uncomplicated as possible and still have enough detail and anticipate enough to get the job done. Cultural and social sophistication are compatible with such smart trip planning, but rushing, pushing your scheduling luck and showing off or taking unnecessary risks are not.

smartphone
Smart Travel

Now that we have defined simple travel, what is smart travel? It is more than good simple travel planning, although it surely involves that too. A smart travel uses his or    her native intelligence and experience and brings it to bear on the trip at hand. It is  not so much a matter of raw IQ or education but of keeping your wits about you and    being what is commonly referred to as street smart.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Smart travel involves knowing enough about your destination and its customs, language, reputation, economy and conditions on the ground to avoid getting ripped off or cheated by vendors, local transportation providers or venues. Keeping your wits about you includes remembering the adage that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Smart travel is also safe travel. It means having the focus to evaluate and pay attention to security and your surrounding and the resourcefulness needed to avoid trouble in an urban environment. It can be as simple as not doing anything stupid by wandering off into questionable surrounding and sticking to well-lighted and well-frequented areas as much as possible.
  • Smart travelers are also politically aware enough to avoid trouble in politically-challenging environments where you could be harassed, detained or worse simply because of what you look like, belong to or what you are-or could be-doing. This is certainly true in areas of international political ferment but can be true in areas of domestic social ferment or conflict as well. Even the U.S. State Department adopted smart travel as a concept when it renamed the Travel Registration” or “Registration with Embassies” program for international travelers the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” that provides current information it compiles about the country where U.S. passport holders are traveling or living. It includes travel warnings and alerts and registered users to add and delete trips based on their current travel plans!
  • Beyond being safe and destination-savvy, the smart traveler makes the most of his or her trip by seeing and absorbing as much as possible of what the offers in the way of culture, cuisine, vistas and local experiences. You have come a long way to get wherever you are going and it is smart to make the most of it as long as your principal travel objectives (be they business, sampling the local wines or shopping for local products) are met.
  • Smart travelers also make smart use of technology. Don’t haul around too much redundant stuff. Simplify your travel life by choosing the right smart phone, service plan and appropriate apps so your device functions as your lightweight pocket GPS, mapper, guidebook and emergency communicator. Get a full-function tablet, equip it with the right apps and you’ll be able to leave your heavy laptop home.
  • Smart travelers pack intelligently, bringing just the right amount of the right clothes and gear for their trip. We’ll cover how to do that in depth later in this handbook.Ronda

Simply Smart Travel

Our conclusion, given our definitions of simple and smart is that simple travel is smart travel and smart travel is simple travel, all things being equal. The caveat, of course is that this is true to the extent that common sense and safety are observed and your reasonable trip objectives are met. The bottom line is that you, as a simply smart traveler, should plan and execute a simply smart trip by doing the least that makes sense and adding the fewest frills on the road as long as you fulfill your trip objectives and make the most of what there is to see and experience. Slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the trip by not making it any more complex than it needs to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Traveler: Know Thyself: Discover Your Inner Travel Child and Grow Up Together To Become Simply Smart Travelers

You are one of a kind. So is each trip you take. For example, even though I fit into the broad demographic categories of American, male, college graduate, over 50 and somebody who often combines business and pleasure on trips, I am not the same as others who fit those categories, Moreover, each trip I take is different, even those to the same destination. While all of us certainly bear many similarities to others who share our statistical categories, as far as travel is concerned, our differences and preferences are significant and deserve to be taken seriously in trip planning and traveling.

If you want to plan and execute simply smart trips, a critical first step is to know thyself. The More you know who you are as a traveler, the easier it is to tailor your trips to your needs in general and for a specific trip. In other words, the Simply Smart Traveler goes on a voyage of self-discovery and drills down deep into his or her preferences to increase the odds of becoming a knowledgeable and satisfied tourist.

 man on boat with beer

 

 

  Discovering Your Inner Travel Child

How do you discover your travel persona? We begin our    exploration by a little exercise, created in the spirit of popular  psychologist John Bradshaw’s  hit  book 1992 book  Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child. Try to think back to when you were a fairly innocent pre-school child   and imagine that your parents have just asked you where you want to go on vacation and what would you like to do when you get there. How would you answer? An amusement park? The beach? Camping? __________? or _____________?
Chances are pretty good that your answers still hold some sway for you. Yes, it is obvious that if you are an over-50 traveler, you’re not a toddler anymore. Without belaboring the point too much, your education and the conceptual framework that enable you to understand culture and history, your tastes, your body and your resources have evolved a long way in the 45 or more years since you were that little child. But your basic spirit of adventure and what sounds like fun is probably still dwells within you. The idea of all this is to dig that basic spirit out, update it and apply it to the real circumstances of your adult world and the trips you will take for the reasons you take each one. The more you can know yourself as a traveler, the savvier and more satisfied traveler you will become.

Creating Your Mini Travel Self-Profile Journal

A good way to accelerate your voyage of self-discovery is to systematically ask yourself some basic questions about your ideal vacation (your grown-up inner travel child preferences), the travel activity level you prefer, your critical travel needs, how much luxury you want and are willing to pay for, your food and drink tastes, your tolerance and preferences for the arts and your travel companion preferences.


Road Trip! The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The two of us just completed an incredible 3,750 mile road trip from our Sarasota-area home in Florida to Charleston, South Carolina, Wilmington, Delaware, New York City, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa in Canada (with a train excursion from Quebec City to Baie St. Paul in the Charlevoix region), Scranton, Pennsylvania, Roanoke, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia and back home. Our trusty 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport Limited proved to be comfortable, roomy and economical, providing us more than 33 miles per gallon and lots of room for luggage, a rapidly-growing library of tourism material, camera equipment and munchies.

We will be doing trip reports and providing travel tips on our destinations in the coming months. For now, here are our impressions of the road trip itself.

The Good

  • The blind-spot and lane-change warnings, backup camera and adaptive cruise control in our car contributed to our sense of safety and made driving much easier than in our previous cars.
  • Gasoline was relatively inexpensive (ranging from fill-ups costing $1.89 a gallon in South Carolina to a high of about $4.00 a gallon in Canada. Most fill-ups were $2.39 or below.
  • The roads for the most part were quite good (especially the U.S. Interstate highways and the major roads in Canada) and well-marked.
  • Traveling by car is convenient since you can come and go on your schedule. However, taking the train from Quebec City to Baie St. Paul and return, though was a welcome interlude from driving.
  • With a large trunk for luggage, we (mostly Ginny) packed in ways that were very convenient and we did not have to take all luggage in to every place we visited.
  • Like train travel, car travel provides a constantly-unfolding tableau oft of great scenery.
  • We had a lot of time to plan, discuss our forthcoming travel book and enjoy conversation.
  • We discovered some real destination gems that are just slightly off the beaten path.

The Bad

  • While our weather was extraordinarily good for the vast majority of our trip, we did hit a couple of rainstorms that brought visibility down to almost zero and created a few white-knuckle moments.
  • Parking in the cities we visited was difficult to find and expensive. We usually stayed downtown, kept our car in the hotel lot and walked and took public transportation.
  • Traffic in and around New York City is terrible. While we didn’t drive once we got there, getting in and out even though we timed our trip to avoid rush hour was bad.

The Ugly

  • Too many large trucks are on the roads. Way too often, they hogged both lanes at well below the speed limit in hilly country as they tried to pass each other. It makes both environmental and safety sense to put a lot of those long-haul loads on trains and get them off the roads.

The bottom line: We loved it and are talking about another major road trip next year! The bad was hugely outweighed by the good. If you like to drive, we recommend that you consider a road trip whether it covers 375 or 3,750 miles or something in between.


 

By Jeffrey R. Orenstein, Ph.D., SimplySmartTravel.com

Check back often for updates and additions. All content copyright Jeffrey R. Orenstein, 2015. All rights reserved. Short excerpts conforming to fair use may be used without permission and with attribution.