Bucket List Travel

Bucket List Travel Can Improve Your Health, Broaden your Perspective, Even Lead You Into New Careers

If travel is something you long for, I encourage you to do it. Don’t let fears or worries stop you.

Study after study reveals that travel is good for us. It’s good for the body and good for the mind. It lowers stress, strengthens relationships and gives you memories for a lifetime.

Whether you like natural beauty (think rivers, mountains, beaches, waterfalls), cultural experiences (think museums, concert halls, art galleries), or historical sites (think battle grounds or presidential libraries), traveling to these places can enrich and enlarge your life in numerous ways.

Want to be amazed? Fascinated? Awed? Travel somewhere you’ve dreamed about but never actually been. Or, return to someplace wonderful you visited decades back and feel the wonder anew.

My husband, Al, and I began to travel in earnest after we were involved in a serious automobile accident in 2012. That wreck brought home to us how fragile life is. How it can be snatched away in a moment, in the blink of an eye. We decided to stop putting off our travel dreams.

Since then we’ve cruised through the Panama Canal, visited the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, ridden on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, cruised the Mediterranean, driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, and cruised the Mississippi River on an honest-to-goodness steam-powered paddle-wheeler.  Next spring, we’ll cruise the fjords of Norway.

We’ve been pleased to learn that travel is associated with lower rates of heart disease, reduced risk of depression, as well as increased brain development. Yes, our brains can develop even at our “seasoned” ages.

Activities such as touring a museum, finding your way through an unfamiliar town,  walking along the beach have positive mental, physical and social benefits.

Traveling develops new skills. And that increases confidence.

When we travel and meet people from unfamiliar cultures, we may find new ways of looking at life. And that can give us a different perspective on things. We may find ourselves growing intellectually and emotionally.

Because travel often includes walking, we may find ourselves actually getting in better shape. We may even lose weight and gain muscle as we hike, stroll, walk or amble about.

Escaping the every-day, if only for a weekend, can energize and renew us.

Travel is fun.

And you never know where your travels will take you. Al and I have made friends we never would have met otherwise. And we found our travels so amazing, that we began to write about them.

So travel has turned us into authors. We write travel memoirs, filling them with all the wit, wisdom, discoveries and surprises we experience on our journeys.            This year, we’re publishing three books about a trip we took in 2014.

Color_Cover_Promo_72dpi copy


Cruising the Mediterranean, describes our adventures in  Amsterdam, Venice, Athens, Istanbul and other places. It was named an Amazon #1 best seller in the senior travel category.

Indie Book Reviewers say that the book is “…full of adventure and life and great advice on traveling.”



FindingOur second book, Finding Ourselves in Venice, Florence, Rome & Barcelona,  was also named a #1 best seller in the senior travel category. In addition, Amazon named it the #1 Hot New Release in Venice travel guides.

In this book, we visit local markets, famous sites, and quiet out-of-the way neighborhoods, staying in Airbnb apartments and using Barcelona’s hop-on hop-off bus to show us around.

Rick Bava, author of In Search of the Baby Boom Generation, said this  about the book: “The beauty of these wonderful places shines through every page.  I recommend it for Baby Boomers and others whose hearts long to travel. You’ll feel like you’re right there…”

And we have a third book, coming out soon: Cruising the Atlantic, Our Epic Journey from Barcelona to Miami.

          I tell you this to underscore how travel can take you places you never dreamed of. Who would have imagined that a wreck caused by a texting driver slamming full speed into us would result in our becoming travel memoir authors sharing our trips with readers around the world?

But there you have it. We’re either writing about a trip, planning a trip, or we’re on a trip, enjoying all the benefits of travel.

At our age, we have the time for travel and we have more money for travel than we had as young adults. Still, we are careful with our travel funds, and try to get the most value for our dollars.

If you have a travel dream, I encourage you to take it.  Travel now, while you can. The Internet can make the trip easier than ever. Nearly every city, state or national park has a website where you can check out tours, lodging, points of interest, even maps of the area.

Do some online exploring, plan with care, fuel your sense of adventure, trigger your imagination, then make your dreams come true.

Al and Sunny Lockwood have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Everywhere they go, they capture unforgettable moments — Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook.  Their work has been published in magazines and newspapers. This photograph was taken in an Athens coffee shop, when Al and Sunny ducked inside to escape a sudden downpour.  You can contact the Lockwoods at  sunnyandallockwood@gmail.com











Cruising Observations for Boomers

Mary Ann and I just got back from a 11 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Equinox, which is about our 24th cruise. Here are some observations from our trip.

We observed and have heard from 3 other frequent cruisers that the cruise lines are now targeting younger people in the 45 to mid 50s age range.  Well after cruising some time with the older people, now we are right in the mainstream being an older boomer of age 67. So the cruise lines want to pass over my age group to target younger people? Doesn’t make sense.  As an example, Equinox presented their Modern Luxury theme with a new stage production which has men wearing only girdles and all cast members looking androgynous. Yuk!Equinox show

Cruise ships do change. Equinox used to be our favorite ship. That is why this was our third cruise on the Equinox. But things have changed. No activity staff at the upper lawn areas or throughout the ship like previous cruises. Cruise staff changes, entertainment changes, ports change, so don’t expect just because you liked the cruise last time you will like the same ship next time.

Equinox3On many cruises, the best part is meeting the people. We met many people we related to on this cruise and it was nice talking with them. Unless the cruise is really port intensive, you will have time to socialize and meeting people is super easy.

Too much of a good thing is bad.  When you first get on a cruise ship, you will love to eat and maybe drink too much. By about day 4, things start to catch up with you and you will have to pace yourself or else a good time turns bad.

Celebrity Equinox
Celebrity Equinox

Taking too many cruises back to back will burn you out on cruises. I think that is where I am now. Taking a 14 day cruise in Sept, then this 11 day cruise in December, I just decided to cancel my California Coast cruise in March because that is just too much cruising.  I will wait until the urge comes back, which won’t be long.

See why baby boomers like cruising. It is the best of boomer travel ideas.


Booking Strategies To Get The Best Cruise Price

I asked Vince at CruiseShipCenters why should I book a cruise early, like a year in advance.  Here is his excellent reply which I gained his approval to share with you.

Why Should I Book A Cruise Early?

Hi Robert,

I was thinking about our conversation from yesterday, and wanted to share a few more thoughts. This email may get long, but I hope you’ll find it interesting and useful.

For 7-night cruises, final payment is usually due 75 days before the departure date; for longer cruises, final payment is usually due 90 days before the departure date. For the sake of this discussion, let’s consider a “last minute” booking to be any booking made after the final payment date.

With a few exceptions, deposits for cruise reservations are fully refundable prior to the final payment date. If you’ve paid a refundable deposit, you’re guaranteed to always be able to re-book and take advantage of a better deal if one becomes available prior to the final payment date. That is, you can simply cancel your reservation for a full refund and then re-book to get the better deal. The cruise lines know this and don’t make you go through the cancel-and-rebook process; instead, they let you re-book your original reservation to get the better deal.

Because there are cancellation penalties after the final payment date, things get a little trickier. After the final payment date, you can no longer cancel and get a full refund. This is when cruise lines will sometimes introduce “last minute” deals that are not available to customers with paid-in-full reservations. In these cases, you’re not able to re-book to take advantage of the better deal. However, the cruise lines will always allow you to upgrade to take advantage of the better deal. For example, let’s say you’re book into an oceanview stateroom and a last minute deal comes out such that balcony staterooms are priced only $100 higher than what you paid for the oceanview. In this case, the cruise lines will allow you to upgrade to the oceanview by paying only the $100 difference.

I’ve used the “last minute deal upgrade” strategy on my personal cruises. Last December, I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise and wanted a junior suite. I had guessed that there might be last-minute deals on this cruise because it was a time of low demand, but I wanted to book right away to be sure to get onboard. Therefore, I booked the lowest-price balcony stateroom and waited. Sure enough, a last minute deal became available and I was able to upgrade to the junior suite for less that I would have paid when I originally booked. (If a last minute deal had not become available, I would have been happy with my balcony stateroom).

It is true that it’s sometimes (often?) possible to get a lower price by waiting for a “last minute” deal after the final payment date. However, there are some caveats for waiting for these deals:

1. Popular cruises may sell out, which means not only are there no last minute deals, but you may not get onboard at all. Therefore, if you know you want to go on a particular cruise on a specific date, waiting for a last minute deal isn’t a good strategy.

2. The most desirable staterooms on a ship always sell first. Therefore, the only staterooms left at the last minute are the ones no one else wanted. If stateroom location is important to you, waiting for a last minute deal isn’t a good strategy. A good example of this is a family that needs multiple staterooms close to each other.

3. Airfare is always more expensive closer to the travel date. What you save in cruise fare, you might give back in airfare.

4. The cruise lines release their schedule 12-18 months in advance. They set their initial prices low and then raise them as the sailing date gets closer (similar to what the airlines do). They’ll raise the prices faster or more slowly depending on how well a particular cruise is selling. Then, after the final payment date, they may offer last minute deals to fill the remaining staterooms. However, because they’ve been raising prices all along, the “last minute deals” may actually be higher than the initial prices you would have paid 12-18 months in advance.

The bottom line is, waiting for a last minute deal can be a good strategy if: (a) you don’t care if you don’t get to go on the cruise at all because the ship sells out; (b) you don’t care about the location of your stateroom; and, (c) you’re not worried about airfare, either because you’re driving to the cruise port or using awards miles to pay for your flight.

A better strategy for most people is to book a cruise as early as possible to take advantage of the initial low fares before the cruise lines start raising prices. If a better deal becomes available before the final payment date, it’s a simple matter to re-book and get the better deal. After the final payment date, you can use the “last minute deal upgrade” strategy to improve your stateroom category.

I always enjoy talking with you. I hope you found this interesting.

Warm regards,

Vince Bonfanti
Franchise Owner

Expedia CruiseShipCenters
Alpharetta, GA

PS: at the meeting at CruiseShipCenters fellow cruises told me they book to get the cabin they want and can watch airfares to get a good price there too.

Thanks to Vince for this excellent reply to my question of Why should I book a cruise early?

Robert Fowler, Boomer Places

bomer cruiser