Today’s Adventure Seekers: The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Setting Up Your Travel Itinerary

Travel trends for baby boomers have been steadily on the rise. With the children grown and gone it gives these empty nesters all the freedom, making travel time abundant. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started on creating your ideal itinerary…
CONTINUE READING >> 

Travel trends for baby boomers have been steadily on the rise. Most of them are spending the majority of their money on traveling, making them account for a large percentage within the travel industry today. With the children grown and gone it gives these empty nesters all the freedom, making travel time abundant.

If you are part of the baby boomer generation, travel is part of your lifestyle. Traveling can be cumbersome but there are some really easy ways to plan ahead. Setting up your travel itinerary and organizing your trip is a great way to get the most out of your upcoming travel. It does take time but it is well worth it to have your trips mapped out  because ultimately it will save you precious time when you’re actually there to explore. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started on creating your ideal itinerary.

START WITH A LIST

Writing down what you want to accomplish on your trip is your first step. Even if you don’t know that you will get to everything that you want, or if something will be too expensive or difficult to incorporate. It’s good to just get it down so that you can start the mapping of your days. Rate the activities or things you want to see or experience with numbers, ranking them from highest priority to lowest. You can break your list down from there into day to day activities, or various excursions.

Keep in mind when you start to pull things off of your list to do on your trip the amount of time each excursion will take. Something that may seem not very long could very well end up taking up the majority of the day when you factor in things like how long it will take to get to the location, if there is a tour involved, when you are stopping for breakfast or lunch, etc.

PACK THE ESSENTIALS

Packing is another thing you might want to create a list for, so you don’t forget anything important. Check out this Travel Packing List so you are sure to remember it all. Certain things can be replaced, so don’t fret if you forget some toiletries or your sunscreen.

If you feel you need help with the itinerary itself you can also check out these Free Itinerary Templates to help with your planning.

RESEARCH THE LOCATION(S)

Make sure you stay aware of ongoing events during the length of  your stay. This ties back to when you create your list – there may be certain things going on different times of the year that you’d like to attend or be there for, so do your research ahead of time. You can also research where the best places to eat are, where to go wine tasting,  or where the best local bar food is if you’re into that sort of thing by doing some web searching beforehand.

Other things that you can research are local traditions  or anything that is local. Certain customs you may not be aware of can be important. You don’t want to travel to another country and offend those living thereby doing something that is considered offensive or out of line.

WHEN TO GET A VISA

Most baby boomers are reveling in “empty-nester” bliss for the first time in their lives, and many  are taking full advantage of their new-found freedom by visiting new places for extended periods of time. If you’re planning on turning your vacation into more of a longterm trip or “extended-stay,” this might actually require you to get a visa. Make sure to look up the visa requirements for your destination, as each country differs a bit. Sometimes a travel visa is not necessary, in which case you need to be sure to bring your passport and a handful of other travel documents.

Visas can take anywhere from two weeks to two months before they are approved, so the process can be extremely long. You will have a lot of paperwork to fill out and submit. The best resource you can use is Favisbook.com for travel visa appointments so that you ensure the process is as expedited as possible. There are various companies that want to help you get your visa without the wait, so do your research!

THE ITINERARY IS ONLY AN OUTLINE

Remember that the plan you set for yourself is only an outline when you travel. Other opportunities or activities may present themselves that you’d rather do, and it’s okay to move things around to accommodate. Your itinerary is there only as a guide to help you stay organized and not meant to be followed exactly. The biggest advantage of having your itinerary is just to keep you from wasting time on your trip trying to find places and things. But that doesn’t mean that things or other exciting places may come up while you’re there, so feel free to explore.

If you’re one of those people who feel they need to have everything planned out, then go ahead and schedule some “free” or downtime so that you have the opportunity to explore on your trip. Or maybe just relax. That way you’re not going to have any regrets or miss something fun.

Safe & Happy Travels!

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Heavy Petting: How many strange pets can one family have?

When our nest emptied, it emptied it not only of kids, but of pets too. We have nothing against pets. We’ve had both dogs and cats and loved them, but the GypsyNester lifestyle of no-plans and go-anywhere isn’t very conducive to taking an animal along. So, for now at least, we are finished with being pet parents.

But pets are often a part of parenting and I got to thinking about some of the colorful characters that were a part of my family through the years. When I was a little kid, our first pet configuration was a… CONTINUE READING >>

David Writing

When our nest emptied, it emptied it not only of kids, but of pets too. We have nothing against pets.

We’ve had both dogs and cats and loved them, but the GypsyNester lifestyle of no-plans and go-anywhere isn’t very conducive to taking an animal along. So, for now at least, we are finished with being pet parents.

But pets are often a part of parenting and I got to thinking about some of the colorful characters that were a part of my family through the years.

When I was a little kid, our first pet configuration was a dog, a cat and a bird. Needless to say, the bird and the cat were best of friends. Their relationship went like this: cat sits and stares with hungry look at bird; bird sits in cage on the brink of heart failure. That went on until the bird mercifully died, probably of heart failure.

Our dog, Holly, was an incredibly high strung English Setter that spent her every waking moment frantically trying to escape from the backyard. Unfortunately, she finally did and it led to her demise. I remember it well, when my brother and I came home from watching “Yellow Submarine” we discovered that she had busted free and came up on the short end of an encounter with a car.

It’s too bad, because the next year we moved out to the boonies of southern Colorado where Holly would have had all the room in the world to work off all of that high strungliness. This was pet Shangri-la.

Our new dogs, Pogo and Connie, were truly in hog heaven. In fact, Pogo began to emulate a hog. It became his one true life’s mission to smell as bad as any living thing on the planet. He could kick up a stink that shamed a dead carcass rotting in the Death Valley sun. Vultures would circle and then think better of it and move on. He smelled so bad that his fur would curl.

Washing him was futile — his only thought after a bath was to find some fresh, wet, stinky cow manure. He had a method. Wallow in the wet manure until well covered then find some dry dirt to roll around in, to really set the mixture. Repeat as needed. It was like breading chicken for frying.

Sometimes we’d try throwing him in the pond, but that just aggravated the stink. Then we’d have to run for our lives before he’d shake. Pogo loved the pond, it had many opportunities for adding to his arsenal. Seriously, wet dog, plus pond scum, plus caked on two day old cow manure equals an olfactory assault of epic proportions.

One summer’s day, Pogo was hanging out (upwind of course) while I was fishing. He suddenly lunged at the water’s edge, snapping something up. Turned out he swallowed a frog, whole. I could practically see the poor amphibian kicking all the way down Pogo’s ingestion passages.

The crazy mutt had a very disturbed look when he began to contort into a full body wretch, a disgusting spectacle, even by Pogo standards. The culmination of this contortion was — Jonah the Frog — slightly worse for wear and seriously freaked out, wretched up, before hopping back into the pond and swimming to safety. Pogo simply went on about his usual business, in search of his next vile pile of revolting refuse to roll in.

Connie, was our beloved, tragic clown. The runt of her litter, she was a complete physical wreck from the get-go. It took several surgeries just to get her past puppyhood. The last of these was an experimental eye surgery performed at the Kansas State University Veterinary Medicine School. The results were only temporarily successful.

By the time Connie was two or three years old she was blind as a bat and stone deaf. She didn’t seem to care in the least. She went on about life as if running full speed at a dead run square into walls, fences, trees, horses, creeks, ponds — pretty much any stationary object — was completely normal. Her nose was one big callous.

In spite of this, her sense of smell survived. That was all she needed to find us and follow whenever we rode off on our horses. She did fairly well unless we stopped. Then she would either run into hind legs or right past us. The hind legs usually resulted in a Connie-launching-kick, and the ever present “yipe,” that signaled another collision.

She was so good-natured about the situation that it became ridiculously humorous. We could hear her “yipes” carrying through the woods as she bounced off of the trees, fences and rocks. Nothing slowed her down.

One day my brother and I were riding along the dirt road into town and, as always, Connie was charging along beside us. A rare car approached so we pull our mounts over to the side to let it pass, but Connie kept right on going. Oh no! She was headed right for the car’s front tire! Tragedy seemed eminent.

We yelled and waved and luckily the driver saw us and tried to stop, the car skidding on the loose gravel. Just as the vehicle slowed to a halt, Connie plowed full speed, headlong into the tire, letting out a louder than usual “YIPE!”

The driver was horrified — mostly at the sight of my brother and I nearly falling off our horses laughing — he thought he had killed our dog. As we regained our breath, we explained our pinball wizard mutt to him. He drove off, unamused. Connie simply charged ahead with plenty of new obstacles to encounter… head on.

I realize that our finding humor in Connie’s shenanigans sounds uncaring, but just think Mr. Magoo, on steroids, and about 10,000 times funnier.

One winter, when we came down the mountain to stay in the city, Connie wandered off. The weather took a turn for the horrendous, below zero with snow, sleet and icy winds. After a couple days of searching, we began to give up hope. Naturally we figured our little blind, deaf, short-haired mutt was a goner and we lamented her loss.

Ten days later, Connie, completely encrusted in ice, came bouncing up the driveway. I kid you not! I guess she sniffed us out.

After our initial joy, and caring for Connie, we started thinking about this miracle and ended up in hysterics visualizing her adventure. How many car wrecks had she caused by blindly wandering right into traffic on the icy roads? Picturing the swath of destruction left in her wake as she ambled around town had us in tears.

Doh-de-doh-de-doh… screeeeeech, crash. Phone poles down, store fronts driven through, multi-vehicle pile ups, a real reign of terror. That’s hilarious! We were sick puppies.

The news media completely missed the story by incorrectly assuming that the town’s recent wave of destruction was caused solely by the weather.

As adults and parents, we have had a few memorable four legged members of the family. Our kid’s first pet came right before the birth of our second child, Decibel. We allowed our oldest, The Piglet, to name the new dog. She named him Bubba, guess she was hoping for a boy.

Bubba was a pound puppy and grew up with the girls. He thought of them as littermates and would tolerate absolutely anything from them without the slightest protest. Tail tugging, fur grabbing, rope harnesses for sled or big-wheel pulling, clothes wearing was all in a days work to Bubba. We are aware of how most dogs hate being dressed up and that it might cause stress to them, but Bubba was absolutely into it. Besides, kigurumi.co pointed out some benefits of dressing up your dog — provides them warmth on cold days, cleanliness, protection from allergens and of course, fashion.

I think it helped that he was anything but the sharpest knife in the drawer. He was more like that one butter knife that’s been back there unused for several decades because it won’t even cut butter. Actually, he defined the saying ignorance is bliss. It made him all the more lovable.

He did have one trait that was far from lovable — the propensity to dig. A fur covered jackhammer. A backhoe with a tail. Moles don’t take to digging like Bubba did. The backyard looked like a minefield, where the mines had been placed way too close together and then detonated.

He dug a basement under his doghouse. The usual view from the kitchen window was Bubba’s butt sticking up out of a large hole with a rooster tail of dirt flying out behind it while two little girls tried to tie something onto him. One day I walked outside and he had dug up the water line and was chewing on it. What the hell? He was an unstoppable excavation machine. We really should have started a swimming pool installation company. Opportunities missed.

One opportunity never missed with our furry companions is the chance for kids to learn valuable realities of life. Love and caring for a dependent creature, being responsible for something other than yourself and the loss of a loved one — all of these are usually first experienced through a pet.

As well as gut-wrenching laughter.

David, GypsyNester.com

Your Turn: Is/was there a pet in your life that made a difference in your family? Have you owned any lovably weird pets? Please share!

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Ice Ice Baby – Glacier Gazing in the Last Frontier

Our trip through Alaska’s inside passage put us on ice… tons and tons and tons of it!
We got to get up close and personal with some of North America’s greatest glaciers without ever leaving the comfort of our luxurious ship… CONTINUE READING >> 

Usually a cruise brings to mind tropical ports of call and lounging in the sun by the pool with a tall glass of something cool. The only ice to be found is in that drink.

Well, our trip through Alaska’s inside passage put that image on ice… tons and tons and tons of it!

We got to get up close and personal with some of North America’s greatest glaciers without ever leaving the comfort of our luxurious ship, the Royal Princess.

Usually the highlights of a cruise take place on shore at one of the ports of call along the way. Interesting stops is almost always the top thing we look for when we pick a cruise, but our favorite days on this trip were on the water.

Our first day out we had a spectacular encounter with the Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America. That morning we saw it on the horizon, and even though we hadn’t even had a chance to unpack yet, that upcoming rendezvous left us a lot to unpack.

We could hardly wait to see it up close and learn more about it, such as where did it get its name, how big is biggest, and what is a tidewater glacier?

Let’s see, the answer to the first one is from Gardiner Greene Hubbard. As a founder and first president of the National Geographic Society he certainly seems to have been a good choice. But wait, there’s more. He was also a founder and the first president of the Bell Telephone Company. What a guy!

As far as size mattering, how about 76 miles long and 400 feet thick at the face? To put that into some perspective, that’s like a forty story tall river of ice flowing from New York City almost to Philadelphia. Talk about a traffic jam!

Even more remarkable is that it can be up to three times that thick in some places as it moves down the mountain on a 400 year journey to Disenchantment Bay.

Tidewater just means that the ice travels all the way to the sea, which is becoming more and more rare as glaciers all across the world are melting and receding. Even this far north, most no longer make it to the ocean. You can believe whatever you like politically, but there is simply no denying this fact.

Impressive as all of that is, nothing compares to seeing this behemoth from a few hundred yards away. We got near enough to feel the cold air off of the ice.

It is hard to relay just how mesmerizing this sight was.  We stared nonstop at the frozen colossus for over an hour. It’s not like it did anything during that time, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to look away. Even as the ship pulled off, we watched Hubbard shrink in the distance until it was gone.

The next day we sailed into Glacier Bay National Park.  As we were entering the bay we noticed a small boat approaching our massive vessel.

Pirates?

Nope, rangers.

Nearly 80% of the people who come to Glacier Bay arrive on cruise ships, so the National Park Service offers programs where rangers provide interpretive services aboard the ships.

Not only did they broadcast an ongoing explanation of what we were seeing over the ship’s speakers, they also had several rangers roaming the decks to field any questions passengers may have.

You didn’t think we knew all of this information off the tops of our heads, did you?

Without a doubt this is one of the most remote National Parks in the system, and that’s saying something because most are pretty darn remote.

There are no roads to, from, or through the park, so visitors either walk or take a boat. Glad we chose the seafaring route. Not that hiking wouldn’t be very cool (in more ways than one), but we got to see a lot more by ship, especially in one day.

For those who long for more than a day, there is a lodge and a campground in the park that can be accessed by airplane or boat.

After cruising the length of the bay and passing gorgeous scenery, including a herd of mountain goats clinging to a cliff, we arrived at Margerie Glacier.

Even though the Royal Princess is an enormous ship, over a thousand feet long, we still got incredibly close, much closer than the day before at Hubbard Glacier. This is because the sea is deeper here, which made this encounter with the smaller glacier every bit as exciting as its giant cousin.

Since 1925, when Glacier Bay was declared a National Monument, Margerie has been seen by more visitors than any of the glaciers in the bay. It is also one of the most active due to its steep drop from around ten thousand feet high.

This activity leads to tons of icebergs floating about the bay. Luck was on our side in that none of these were big enough to pose a problem. In fact our ship plowed through them as if they were nothing at all.

Yet some were large enough for seals to use as floatation devices, with one little guy, or at least he looked little from way up on the 16th deck, riding by on his own private berg.

It didn’t strike us as nearly as nice as our accommodations, but then he certainly did look completely content.

Guess he knows how to cruise.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See our social media from this incredible cruise here.

The Long and the Shorts of It All

When women get to be “of a certain age” questions of appropriateness inevitably rear their ugly heads. I think I have squarely hit that certain age. With a vengeance.

My questions of appropriateness have actually turned into a LIST of questions of appropriateness:

Should I stop wearing shorts?
What about sleeveless blouses?
Is my hair too long?
When should I stop dying it?
Should I do something about my wrinkles?… CONTINUE READING >>

Veronica Writes

When women get to be “of a certain age” questions of appropriateness inevitably rear their ugly heads. I think I have squarely hit that certain age. With a vengeance.

My questions of appropriateness have actually turned into a LIST of questions of appropriateness:

Should I stop wearing shorts?

What about sleeveless blouses?

Is my hair too long?

When should I stop dying it?

Should I do something about my wrinkles?

The shorts quandary is a tough one for me. It’s on the top of my list for good reason.

Lord knows I don’t have the legs I used to. Not even close.

Somehow all of my beautiful taut thigh skin has loosened up and is now gathering all-wrinkley-elephant-like around my knees.

The old buttocks isn’t riding as proudly as it used to. Cellulite is blooming in some very dishonorable places.

I can’t trust a mirror (or maybe it’s my perception of what I see in the mirror that I can’t trust).

Sometimes the reflection is horrifying to me, other times I feel I’m pulling it off just fine. I should just toss the stupid looking glass and risk the seven years bad luck.

Here’s the problem with giving up shorts – I love hiking and biking. I adore feeling comfortable and I abhor being hot.

I’m not so vain that I’ll start wearing a burqa while hiking, but I must admit there’s some exhibition anxiety while
standing in line at the post office after arriving by bike.

When does my loss of comfort become less imperative than the comfort of the leg-looking-at public? I try to use my own reaction to others’ exposed skin as a barometer.

But, again, I get mixed results.I admire the healthy sixty-something lady at Yellowstone in her cute khakis, shudder when I see someone with cut-off sweats riding high in the butt crack.

Short sleeves fall into this same category. A friend of mine calls those lovely gal-flaps under her arms “Hey Judys!”

As a child, my friend spied a tourist lady in a large hat frantically flagging down her buddy, Judy, and bringing about quite a bit of upper arm wobbling. That kind of thing sticks with a kid.

In my not-so-trusty mirror I’m seeing some Hey Judy! action of my own happening. For some reason, my upper arm area is not so bad when I look directly at it, but photos can go either way. It really sucks. I’m torn between going all-out-Grandma-floral-muumuu and the trendier, more comfy summer tank.

Neither seems appropriate.

Must I have Michelle Obama arms to go sleeveless? I love that our First Lady has opened the door for women my age to wear the style, but maybe she could loosen up and go just a bit Hey Judy! for the masses? 😉

As for the too old for long hair predicament, ever since my mid-twenties I’ve been dreading the day that I’d have to cut my hair short.

I’ve always had long hair. The few times I’ve cut it to shoulder length I immediately regretted it. I love the ease of throwing it into a ponytail and getting on my merry way without fuss.

David and I have a pact about the hair dye. He has promised me that when I start getting that pasty-face-and-shoe-polish-hair look, he will let me know. It took a lot to get that promise out of him since I’m sure he sees it as one of those “does this make my butt look big” traps. God love him.

Then there are the dreaded wrinkles. I absolutely HATE my “worry line.” The crease between my eyebrows looks more and more like the Grand Canyon everyday. I spend an increasing amount of time pulling up the skin on my forehead and admiring myself as I would look with a brow lift.

Let’s face it, this is a two-faced dilemma for women of our generation if there ever was one. We, as a society, admire the youthful looking women we see, yet admonish them for the plastic surgery they’ve had. We need to be kinder to each other about our personal choices.

I’ve googled what a brow lift entails. It’s pretty scary. Until something is discovered that doesn’t involve facial detachment, I’m going to have to pass. Unless I change my mind. (BUT, I did end up trying Botox – don’t judge me until you read this!)

The mirror being the liar that it is, I started asking around for advise. This, too, was conflicting and unhelpful.

My daughter: The Piglet: “I think it’s up to the woman and what she is personally comfortable with.” (Nice sentiment, but unhelpful to someone who has no idea WHAT she is comfy with).

My daughter: Decibel: “Why
the hell do you care so much?” (Oh, just you wait missy!)

David: “I’ll be really pissed if you get plastic surgery. Other than that, I’ll love you no matter what.” (He’s really good at dodging does-this-make-my-butt-look-big traps, so his opinion doesn’t count in this matter, but it’s sweet nonetheless.)

Even after Googling these various subjects, I find myself in very conflicted territory. Opinions range wildly – everywhere from the you’ve-come-a-long-way-baby / you-go-girl tribe condoning a let-it-all-hang-out lifestyle, to the more conservative clan that uses words like grace and class. Once again, I fall firmly into neither camp.

Maybe I should just chuck the mirror, stop harassing my loved ones, ditch Google and give up.

The stress of it all is giving me hot flashes.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Are you as conflicted as I am? Any advice?

Wait. What? There are Tamales in Mississippi?

Turns out the traditional Mexican dish is hugely popular in The Delta and has a long history here. The origin is a bit of a mystery that dates back over a hundred years, either migrant farm workers, soldiers returning from the Mexican-American War, or the original natives introduced… CONTINUE READING >> 

We were ready to absorb all of the Blues history we could, and Clarksdale has a ton. What better place to start than The Crossroads? A big sign marks the spot of the alleged devil deal but we had our doubts. (click here to see our full story on the Mississippi Blues Trail!)

The Crossroads in Clarksdale Mississippi

What we didn’t have any doubt about was the grub at Abe’s BBQ right there on the infamous corner. Finding killer BBQ in these parts was no surprise, but we did learn something new when we ordered up some tamales.

Tamales at Abe's BBQ in Clarksdale

Turns out the traditional Mexican dish is hugely popular in The Delta and has a long history here. The origin is a bit of a mystery that dates back over a hundred years, either migrant farm workers, soldiers returning from the Mexican-American War, or the original natives introduced the idea of corn meal stuffed with meat. Since corn meal and pork are staples of The Delta diet, the idea stuck.

Abe's BBQ since 1924

Known as either Mississippi or Delta Hot Tamales, they differ from the Mexican variety in the spices, amount of meat (more), and the coarseness of the corn meal (also more). They are so popular down here at that they were immortalized in the famous song “They’re Red Hot” by Robert Johnson in 1936.

Ribs and BBQ at Abe's

And, of course there’s BBQ! REALLY good BBQ. The sauce is called “Come Back Sauce,” because once you taste it, you’re sure to come back!

Abe's BBQ in Clarksdale Mississippi

The Tamale Marker, Mississippi Blues Trail

(click here to continue along on the Mississippi Blues Trail!)

Bonus Time: The markers for Sam Cooke, Ike Turner and Wade Walton! in Clarksdale Mississippi.

The Marker for Sam Cooke on the Mississippi Blues Trail

The Marker for Ike Turner on the Mississippi Blues Trail
Hotel Alcazer where Ike Turner worked

Hotel Alcazer where Ike Turner worked.

Wade Walton's Marker on Mississippi Blues Trail

(click here to see our full story on the Mississippi Blues Trail!)

If you can’t make it to Mississippi for an amazing BBQ consider a charcoal grill for your backyard.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Are you a blues fan? Did you learn anything new? Is this a roadtrip you’d consider taking?