The Travelling Boomer is a site made for baby boomer travellers – those of us who are over 50 and still love to go gallivanting around the world, to see new things and amuse the natives. But between writing about exotic places all over the globe, I don’t spend much time talking about what it really means to be a baby boomer traveller.
If you’re a traveller of a certain age, as they used say, now and then you run smack into something that reminds you that you’re not a kid any more. Hopefully, it’s not a fire hydrant. But no matter what it is, it makes you think a little about what boomer travel is all about. To help with that contemplation, I’ve compiled a little list of diagnostic things that tell you exactly who you are. I call it: 10 signs that you’re a baby boomer traveller. Here it is:
You leave nothing to chance
Part of the thrill of travel is throwing yourself into the unknown. At least, until you become a baby boomer traveller; then you want a hotel room waiting for you when you arrive. No more dragging your suitcase from pillar to post until someone lets you sleep on their front porch. Once, your motto was “go with the flow”. Now, it’s “hotels.com”.
You call this four-star?
Once upon a time, you could sleep in a bunk bed in a room with three other people and feel lucky if only one of them snored. Now, you need a bed so comfortable it can restore life to dead limbs and make the crippled walk again. It wouldn’t hurt if there’s a rainforest shower head in the bathroom, either. And can they deliver breakfast in bed? What used to be luxury is now a basic need.
My feet are sore – and so is everything else
Those legs have carried you everywhere from Tallahassee to Timbuktu, with nary a whimper. But these days, after a hard day of tramping around a European capital, they’re barking like a kennel full of sled dogs. And your feet are sprouting blisters on top of your calluses. Maybe it’s time to take more cabs …
Forget the skydiving, bring on the food
Travel is about new experiences. But these days you’re more interested in immersing yourself in new cuisines than plunging into icy lakes. You go places just to eat their signature cheese, or to see if you can survive the 10-course tasting menu. Once, adventure was spelled “scuba diving” – now, it’s more like “boeuf bourguignon”.
Where’s the Pepto-Bismol?
All that eating, combined with an aging digestive system, brings its own kind of baby boomer adventure. Remember when you could order the chicken vindaloo with impunity? Now you view every menu through a filter of food sensitivities: one mistake could mean gastro-intestinal disaster. A good trip is one where you spend more time on the road than in the john.
Where’s my wallet – and my pants?
Let’s face it, when you’re a baby boomer traveller, you tend to forget things. Which is not a good thing when you’re staying in a different hotel in a different city every night. Without some concerted effort, you can leave a trail of lost possessions across an entire continent. Here’s a tip: never unpack your suitcase, and keep everything you own in plain sight.
Don’t worry, it’s just a scratch …
Maybe it has something to do with global warming, but every year the streets seem to get darker when the sun goes down. And they put staircases in the damnedest spots — is it your fault if the ground goes down while you’re looking up? Don’t worry, if you’re lucky you’ll only fall a few feet, and a few months of physio will heal it right up.
Suitcase, passport and your meds …
Few of us get much past 50 without accumulating a bag full of medications for treatment of assorted aches and pains. If you’re a baby boomer traveller, they go into your bag just before your passport and your cash. Once upon a time, losing your money was a travel disaster; nowadays, it’s losing your pills and having to buy replacements from a witch doctor in a back alley.
Will those drums never stop?
Travel is full of little annoyances, and the older you get, the more annoying they get. Those people yelling under your hotel window, the creeps who keep jostling you on the bus (are they feeling for your wallet?). You’d think that as time goes on, people would learn to be less irritating, but somehow they’re still not getting the message. So much for evolution …
But despite it all, it’s still worth it
Despite all the pitfalls and peccadilloes, you still know that being a baby boomer traveller is a great privilege. As I wrote long ago in this post, being older can mean that you have both the time and the money to travel. And it means you have the wisdom to appreciate the world’s great cultures, and admire its many masterpieces with eyes that see so much more. That’s worth a few sore feet and upset stomachs. And it’s still way better than staying home.
That’s my list of the 10 signs that you’re a baby boomer traveller. If you recognize more than a couple of them … well, you know who you are. And if you recognize all 10, we’ve probably been on the same trip. In any case, let me know which of them defines baby boomer travel for you. And it you have a few signs of your own, leave a comment and share them, so we can all have a good laugh at ourselves.