1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Independent Travel — Or Not (Gorgeous Photos Alert)

by Suzanne Fluhr on August 17, 2012 · 23 comments

Costa Rica rainbow

Costa Rica rainbow

Costa Rican Rainbow

I am not averse to independent trip planning.  Sometimes I even enjoy spending a few hours (or days) in a TripAdvisor induced reverie, but it is also time consuming and can be frustrating.  For example, even if finding and booking the perfect flights to an airline hub city is relatively painless, you still have to figure out where to stay, where to eat and what to see once you get there.

Intrepid Hikers Outside Perth, Australia

There are some travel purists who feel superior to people who opt for a mass market cruise, an all inclusive resort vacation or a big bus tour.  In their view, people who “travel” to take these types of holidays are in fact isolating themselves from the very language and culture of the places they are visiting, so why are they bothering to travel?  I love to travel and I love to travel both ways:  totally immersed and close to the ground in the places I visit (even if there’s a tarantula in the shared bathroom), AND, leaving the driving and planning to other people – “Just tell me when to be there and what to wear.”

Australian Sea Lions on Kangaroo Island, Australia

Australian Sea Lions on Kangaroo Island, Australia

If you’re a person (let’s say a Baby Boomer) contemplating leaving your native country for the first time, a guided tour might be the way to go because if you feel overwhelmed at the daunting prospect of figuring out your own itinerary and logistics, you might give up and end up vacationing back at the beach 100 miles from your home for the umpteenth time. For a relatively newbie traveler, a guided tour provides the chance to stick your toe in the water and wade slowly and comfortably into the world of foreign travel.  A guided tour provides the security of traveling with a life jacket.  Once you experience that many people in the hospitality industry all over the world speak English and that all the amenities you need are readily available on certain itineraries, maybe the next time you travel abroad you’ll feel bold enough to strike out on your own. There’s nothing wrong with baby steps!

Astronomical Observatories Atop Mauna Kea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii

Astronomical Observatories Atop the Mauna Kea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii

Then there’s the option of taking a cruise or flying to an all-inclusive resort.  There are times in the dark gloom of winter in the northeastern United States that I just want to be outta here!  I want it to be warm.  I want there to be 12 hours of daylight (or close to it).  I want someone else to make the bed and cook for me.  I don’t want to drive (not on the wrong side of the road NOR on the right side) and I don’t want to lug a suitcase around with me from hotel to hotel.  I want to unpack once. I want to be able to go to a show or not go to a show, to dance or not to dance. If I decide I need a break from sitting by the pool with the book I’ve been waiting forever to have the time to read, I want there to be an excursion desk with smiling helpful people who will make it a seamless experience for me to climb a pyramid, to conquer my fear of heights on a zip-line through the jungle or to swim with dolphins.

Las Cavas Wine Lodge, Outside Mendoza, Argentina

Andean Sunrise at Las Cavas Wine Lodge, Outside Mendoza, Argentina

Actually, there’s no rule that says your travel has to be one or the other type of travel. Sometimes I opt for a “hybrid” trip—-part independent adventure and part recovering at a nice all inclusive resort or on a cruise.  I submit that both kinds of travel have a “place” and can be nourishing for the body and soul.

Iguazu Falls National Park from San Martin Island

Iguazu Falls National Park, Argentina

                                                                                                                                                               All photos copyright: S. Fluhr

What types of travel do you enjoy?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonia August 17, 2012 at 7:36 am

The best about these all-inclusive resorts is the hotel entertainment, you meet Patrick Swayze, fall in love and dance mambo! 😀 Love the article!


Just One Boomer August 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

If I go to an all inclusive, I bring my own love. He doesn’t dance as well as Patrick Swayze (of course, neither do I), but he does dance—the mambo even.


Steven Albelda August 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Love those pictures- you are a great photographer.


Margie August 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

We have friends who are world travelers. They spend nearly half their year in foreign places, and they put a lot of effort into researching where they are going. They like to immerse themselves as much as possible. We have joined them on several occasions – all we had to do was book our tickets and then enjoy the experience that they had laid out!


Just One Boomer August 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm

It’s a talent to be able to recognize when there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. They sound like excellent friends to have if you like to travel and you aren’t a control freak. 😉


Montecristo Travels September 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

(enjoying your blog!) Large tours are not really options for those of us traveling with a dog. Even if said dog is 3.5 pounds, well behaved and well-travelled. I hope to see a change in that occur but – no luck yet. As such we’ve always gone solo. Our travel agent is absolutely the best. I may have fun in trying to find my own “deal” but she has ALWAYS beaten my price and also finds a much better flight. In addition – little known fact – your travel agent is the BEST travel insurance you could ever have. In our case, when the airline she had booked ended up declaring bankruptcy 3 days before our return. She found us a new flight, at the travel agencies expense. No sweat no issues. Awesome! Ditto when a hotel we were going to stay at (pre-dog days) had a fire the day before our arrival. She found us a new place, no problem … no hassle. BEST.TRAVEL.INSURANCE.EVER!


Just One Boomer September 21, 2012 at 5:05 am

Thanks fir sharing your experiences. I have used travel agents for “emergency” trips and complicated trips—11 flights on a trip to NZ and Australia. Our travel agent was a big help when we had to change travel plans mid trip in Spain for a family emergency. However, the last time I used a travel agent, we ended up with horrendous non-reclining seats for a long flight—backs up against a bathroom bulkhead.


Gill September 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

Good morning! I just stumbled across your blog via Americana, where your comment on Philadelphia caught my eye. We’re headed for a short break in the city soon, so I’d we appreciative of your advice about the “must sees” and any quirky off beat spots anyone but a local might miss.

We travel widely too, so your blog came as an intereresting bonus, especially your thoughts and observations of London. Good to have a new addition to my RSS feed, thank you.


Donna Janke March 2, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Suzanne, I so agree. I’ve written about this topic myself and what I call “travel snobs”. I don’t think there is one right way to travel. What’s right for one person may not be right for another. And the kind of travel that is appropriate for me right now may not be what I need next year. I love planning my own trips, but it does take a lot of work. There are places in the world where I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that on my own and would opt for a guided tour. And there have been times in my life when what I needed most was an all-inclusive vacation with no decisions to make beyond which buffet table to go to.


Suzanne Fluhr March 2, 2015 at 10:55 pm

Donna, you make an excellent point. What we “need” and want from travel changes with our circumstances. I find people who think “it’s my way or the highway” to be mostly irksome.


Shelley March 2, 2015 at 9:32 pm

I love travelling both ways. For the most part, I am a travel control freak, and I enjoy the planning and dreaming about the destination that goes with it. But I also enjoy cruising. It’s so relaxing and stress-free, especially for a shorter vacation. Whatever floats your boat I say!


Patti Morrow March 2, 2015 at 10:04 pm

There are many different ways to travel, and I enjoy them all, depending on my mood, the destination, who I’m with, etc. I too have written about “travel snobs.” If I see one more article about “authentic travel” that puts down people who don’t travel as they do, I will scream. Travel means different things to each of us. The important thing is to get out and do it in the way that is most enjoyable to each.


Suzanne Fluhr March 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Patti, the truth is that trying to travel the way someone else does if it’s not a good fit, can ruin one’s desire to travel which would be a shame.


Susan Moore March 2, 2015 at 11:28 pm

There are pros and cons to both types of travel. I prefer to travel alone but I have been on two all-inclusive trips – one was a study abroad class for 10 days in China and the other was a 2 day tour of Cappadocia in Turkey. The big plus is that I didn’t have to do any of the planning/deciding – it was all done for me! The big negative is I didn’t get to do any of the planning/deciding 🙂 and had to stick with whatever was on the agenda. I much prefer to wing it on my own than to be part of a tour. If others like to take tours that doesn’t bother me. Different strokes for different folks!


Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru March 2, 2015 at 11:54 pm

I’ve not traveled on an escorted tour, but I imagine we might ease into that sort of thing when we get a little older. Same for a cruise. I think there is something to be said for convenience and dispensing with the minutiae that can be fatiguing and distracting. And I agree with Donna, there is nothing worse than a travel snob insisting that their way is more “authentic” or appropriate. I’m happy to see people get off their rear ends and get out to see the world, experience different cultures, and meet new people. Travel is broadening, and even though lots of us do travel, there are plenty of close-minded people who don’t. If given a choice between a planned tour and staying home, I’d pick the tour every time. Oh wait, I don’t have a home. 😉


Paula McInerney March 3, 2015 at 6:34 pm

There are all types of travellers and one style does not fit all and that is perfectly ok. We would be called by you “travel purists” because we do like to travel our own way, that is what I site is totally about. I really think that people have choices and if their choice is an escorted trip or a cruise, then good for them – they are seeing a new world and meeting different people. I am not a travel snob but we present the facts that you get more bang for your buck by doing it yourselves, you don’t have to compromise in what you see and do. We certainly acknowledge that many people are time poor and that is the compromise that we accept in organising our own travels – our way. I can see that in time we will become hybrid travellers as you put it and that is ok.


Irene S. Levine March 3, 2015 at 10:33 pm

I think I’m an “eclectic” tourist like you—it’s nice to follow your fancy on different trips depending on your mood and what’s available.


Jackie Humphries Smith March 4, 2015 at 10:32 am

Just give me travel. We use cruise specialists when booking cruises and do the rest ourselves – we see it as half the fun and sometimes a good brain challenge to keep the juices flowing. We’d have missed a lot of great parts of the world had we relied on a travel agent/tour to direct where we should go. That said, we also have just booked several expensive ship’s tours in the Middle East for our upcoming cruise as we aren’t ready to take on independent excursions in some of the countries we are visiting. (Of course, terrorists are more likely to grab a bus load than just the ol’ Scribe and Scout. . .sigh).


Anita @ No Particular Place To Go March 4, 2015 at 8:18 pm

We’ve always traveled independently although sometimes it would have been much easier and maybe even more enjoyable to leave our trip in the hands of someone more knowledgeable. That being said, an enjoyable part of travel for us is researching, prioritizing places we want to visit and (here’s the important part) going at our own pace.


Cathy Sweeney March 5, 2015 at 12:52 am

Travel and how we do it is a very personal thing. There’s no wrong way or right way and often the best way for us would be the worst for another. The important thing is that someone is simply making the move to see/do something outside their normal surroundings — in whatever way they choose. It’s all good. 🙂 By the way, love the Andean sunrise pic.


Carole T. Meyers March 6, 2015 at 6:56 pm

I generally prefer independent travel and am not a big cruise fan, but sometimes I do prefer an organized trip. I am taking one to China next month and am planning a cruise in Tahiti. I say you should do what floats your boat!


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