boomer travel

AARP Travel, Vacations and Tours are Popular

AARP Travel,  Vacations, Tours are Popular

The nonprofit membership organization AARP (for individuals 50+ years of age) has long offered senior group travel and tour options for its members – and now it has improved its offerings even further with the launch of AARP Travel. This great new travel website has detailed destination information, special offers, and even an interactive Trip Finder to help prospective adventurers age 50 and older choose an exciting (or relaxing) tour or travel destination.

Baby boomers, the largest age demographic in the country, are moving into the age of retirement – and are seeking new experiences and social interactions to enjoy.

Boomers want experiences, not more stuff at this stage of their lives.

AARP-organized vacations, travel packages, and tours are ready-made senior-friendly travel options that can meet those needs while specifically catering to the desires of 50+ travelers.

Through relationships with Liberty Travel and Expedia, among other travel industry leaders, AARP can offer its members incredible group deals on some of the most sought-after travel destinations around the world.

Some of the favorite domestic AARP member vacations include Las Vegas packages, Hawaiian getaways, Washington, D.C. stays and tours, and New Orleans Jazz Festival experiences, and other offerings in major cities such as New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, San Antonio, and Portland.

For those looking to travel farther afield, there are a wide range of international travel options. You may enjoy tours of Paris museums, explorations of Barcelona and Rome, rail tours in the UK, cruises among the Galapagos Islands, and guided trips of Hong Kong, among many other destinations.

Available choices include fully escorted tours and small ship cruises, or independent travel with a planned itinerary and access to customer service support.

If you are looking for the right tour or travel package, even without a destination in mind, the interactive Trip Finder application on the AARP Travel website can help guide you toward some of the organization’s many offerings with “visual questions,” using photography to represent the geography, styles of travel, and activities offered by various packages.

The AARP also has a new travel relationship with Liberty Travel, offering personalized travel agent expertise, as well as discounts and exclusive benefits for AARP members. Many more travel companies and services are listed on the AARP Travel site.

Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal

Celebrating 100 years

Celebrating 100 years
By Sunny Lockwood

While many dream of traveling around the globe to see such wonders as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, there is an equally spectacular site in the western hemisphere. And it is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

What is it? The Panama Canal

This 50-mile waterway, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, changed our world. When it officially opened in 1914, it cut nearly 8,000 miles off the shipping routes from New York to San Francisco,

Considered the eighth wonder of the world, today the Panama Canal accommodates more than 14,000 ships a year carrying cargo ranging from automobiles to grain, on their passage between the oceans.

More than 10 percent of all U.S. shipping goes through the canal.

Cruising the Panama Canal

But for travelers who want to not only view interesting places but actually experience them, cruising through the Panama Canal is unforgettable. Cruise lines offer an array of such trips from a variety of starting ports.

Depending on a traveler’s pocketbook and calendar, transits can be partial (where the ship enters the canal, goes to Gatun Lake, then turns around and goes back out the same locks used to enter the canal) or full (entering the canal from one ocean and exiting at the far end into the other ocean).

When my husband and I cruised on Holland America’s ms Zuiderdam in 2012, it took more than eight hours to make the entire transit.

Our 82,000-ton ship barely fit in the locks, and being smoothly lifted and lowered 85-feet as the locks filled or emptied, was like riding a magic carpet.

There are three sets of locks at each end of the canal. Two lanes allow two ships to move through the locks at the same time. Each ship climbs up three locks at the start of the canal, and then down three at the end.

Lock chambers are 1,000-feet long and 110-feet wide.

One of the magical aspects of our transit through the locks, then through the nine-mile cut through the Continental Divide (think Rocky Mountains), then through the huge man-made Gatun Lake, and out the locks at the Canal’s far end, was that we and our ship did the transit exactly like that first ship had when the canal opened on August 15, 1914.

No computers at all. Everything is run by gravity and electricity. Gravity fills and empties the locks, lifting ships 85 feet above sea level at the beginning of the Canal, and then lowering them again at the end. And the electricity that opens and closes lock doors, and runs everything else at the canal is created by the canal’s dams. It’s all very self-sufficient.

Our trip was a spectacular and historic experience.

This centennial year would be the perfect time to visit this engineering wonder of the world. And cruising along its watery pathway is both inspiring and sobering (when you consider that more than 26,000 lives were lost in the building of this most famous short cut).

My only suggestion to make the trip more meaningful, would be to do some historical research into the building of the Canal. As you learn about the dream and how hard it was to make it all come true, you’ll appreciate the amazing journey across the Isthmus of Panama.

About the Author

Sunny Lockwood and her husband, Al, have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Wherever they go, they capture unforgettable moments – Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook. Their work for newspapers and magazines has won national, regional and local awards. Cruising Panama’s Canal, savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories is their first travel memoir. It’s available at amazon.com.

Connect with them on Facebook: Cruising Panama’s Canal

coming out of the Culebra Cut and into Gatun Lake
View from the Crow’s Nest, which is above the bow of ms Zuiderdam. We are coming out of the Culebra Cut and into Gatun Lake. Gatun Lake covers about 180 square miles and makes up the center of the Canal.
Roswell GA Food Tour

Ten Reasons Food Tours Are A Good Idea

Food Tours Are A Good Idea

This month while on vacation in Asheville NC, we noticed on TripAdvisor that the number one rated activity was Asheville Food Tours. We made a call and went on the tour the next day and had a blast!

Back home we wondered if there were any food tours nearby and found one on Canton Street in Roswell GA.  Our neighbors joined us and we did the Roswell Food Tour yesterday and loved it. Mariel was our guide and did an excellent job with everything. Everyone in our party was impressed with the Roswell Food Tour.

I had never even heard of Food Tours before this month but now am a big fan.  Food Tours seem to be spreading across the country and are worth checking out.

What is a Food Tour?

A walking food tour with a local guide usually visits about 4 or 5 restaurants sampling courses at each and maybe visiting an olive oil store and/or chocolate shop as well.

Food tours normally take place in the less busy part of the day so you can get special attention. Our Asheville Food Tour was between 2 and 5pm and our Roswell Food Tour was between 4 and 7pm.

There were only 4 people on our Roswell Food Tour but 10 people on our Asheville Food Tour and I have heard of groups of 13 people. We liked the group of 10 people because we really bonded with new people but on the other hand the group of 4 with our private party was nice since we had the guide all to ourselves.

Foods Tours usually visit locally owned restaurants and the owner or manager comes out to speak with the group about the restaurants and some of their dishes.

Walking to the next restaurant in Roswell
Walking to the Table & Main in Roswell

There is some walking involved so wear comfortable shoes and an umbrella. Walking to each restaurants is nice and the guide will point out interesting things about the buildings or landmarks as you walk by.

The guide keeps the group on schedule moving between the restaurants and there is no waiting to get in as they are expecting your group and will have the food and drink ready to be served as soon as you sit down. That is nice!

The food is wonderful. You may get appetizers at one restaurant, a main dish at the next,  more sides dishes at the next and a dessert along the way.  The Asheville Food Tour gave us a coupon for 10% off any of the restaurants for visits within 5 days.

I already have the Athens Food Tour on my list. To find Food Tours just search the city name plus Food Tours.  Here are some reasons I think you will like a Food Tour.

Ten Reasons Food  Tours Are a Good Idea

1. Exciting and fun new experience. Feels like a vacation.
2. Great way to try new restaurants, especially in a new city.
3. Meet new people. People bond while having a great time.
4. Special attention – Seating without a wait at a reserved table. Food ready to serve. Menu selections made.
5. Great way to entertain visitors or friends.
6. Great thing to do when you are on vacation.
7. Learn about and sample interesting foods you never tried before.
8. Friendly and entertaining guide keeps a flawless schedule that keeps things interesting and fun.
9. Restaurant owner or manager will make you feel like a friend while giving you the background and specialties of the restaurant.
10. Learn historical facts about area and see interesting things

 

Roswell Food Tour group
Roswell Food Tour at Greenwoods
Patrick with Asheville Food Tour
Patrick with Asheville Food Tour
Olive Oil Tasting on Food Tour
Olive Oil Tasting on Asheville Food Tour

Local Food Tours
Asheville Food Tours
Georgia Food Tours
Charlotte Food Tours
Savannah Food Tours
New Orleans Food Tour
Seattle Food Tour

Baby Boomers, Retirement, Travel and Boomer Living – Less work and things, more people and activities.