Fast breaking travel news and creative tour opportunities for senior travelers
What’s on the Travel News Menu Today?
August – September 2020
1. Here is a rare chance to jump the queue for August and September 2020 and go river rafting through the Grand Canyon. Normally, vacationers must book a year in advance for this bucket list experience.
2. In 2021 the England Coast Path will become the world’s longest fully signed walking trail with 3,000 miles linking together picturesque villages, cliffs, beaches and places of historic interest for the first time.
3. The Hawaiian island of Maui is well known as a destination for rest and relaxation, but for the active nature lover, here are four compelling reasons to spend time exploring additional highlights.
4. Cultural cuisine has its own passionate following that treats a unique meal as the perfect excuse for planning a holiday. Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eats is the latest culinary bible to unveil the world’s top 500 food experiences.
5. What are staycations and why are they spiking in popularity so dramatically? Do you know the most popular staycation modes of vacationing? Check them out here.
6. Flyers are experiencing mixed messages about when to show up at airports and what to do when they get there. This will be the norm for some time.
We invite you to check out our Feature Link of the Month and our latest Travel Product Reviews.
Is Rafting the Grand Canyon on Your Bucket List?
River rafting Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon is on the wish list of many active travelers no matter what their age or where they live. Usually this requires planning at least a year ahead, especially if you are wanting to go as a group of family or friends. Guess what? COVID-19 just wiped out that necessity because Western River Expeditions has understandably received cancellations from overseas clients who are not able or willing to travel abroad. The Colorado River awaits!
This August and September 2020, there are openings on the three-day, 4-day, 6-day and 7-day itineraries, with the longer explorations literally crossing the width of Arizona. After a day of excitement on and off the water, you’ll welcome camp time whether on a long sandy beach or at the base of towering cliffs. Guests often find their time in camp to be an unexpectedly enjoyable aspect of the trip where billions of stars form a natural light canopy in the pitch-black sky.
As clients are navigating down the Grand Canyon for long distances, the raft becomes an integral part of the experience in terms of relaxation, whitewater, and ability to move about. While you’ll certainly be getting on and off the raft quite a bit every day, your comfort on the raft is important which is why Western River Expeditions uses a patented raft called the “J-Rig.” This raft offers one of the most comfortable rides on any Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip. There is space to stretch out and relax in the calm sections of the river and an exciting ride in the whitewater stretches. With plenty of seat positions to choose from, you can pick whether to ride up front for more action or further back for a calmer experience. Be sure to check out the company’s strict COVID-19 protections.
Founded in 1961, Western River Expeditions, www.westernriver.com, is an adventure travel company with rafting experiences in Arizona, Utah and Idaho states. The company is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine and was recognized in 2019 as the “Best Rafting Company in the World” by the readers of USA Today “10Best.”
More than half of guests on these river rafting expeditions are older people over 45, and 12.5% are over 65. More than 30% are made up of multi-generational families. As Brandon Lake, Chief Marketing Officer of Western River Expeditions reports, “We often see parents or grandparents who did the same trip as much as 20 to 50 years ago as a teenager or adult and are now coming back with their own adult children or younger grandchildren to share the experience again!”
England Unveils the World’s Longest Signposted Trail!
From striking cliffs rising out of the sea to sandy coves and quaint fishing villages away from the big cities, England’s coastline offers a tranquil escape to the great outdoors. While many walking paths between segments of these beauty spots are well known and enjoyed by visitors, the news that they will be joined together in their entirety in 2021 to form the England Coast Path elevates the experience to another level for walkers and hikers around the world. 2021 will be designated as the Year of the English Coast with the route set to become the longest signposted trail in the world at nearly 3,000 miles or 4,800 kilometers.
While only a small fraction of readers will contemplate walking the full Coast Path – perhaps over a period of five or ten years? – most individuals will be satisfied with exploring the English coast in bite-sized pieces. Here are a few areas to consider:
Northumberland: With its imposing castles and offshore islands teeming with wildlife, the Northumberland coast offers beauty and history in equal measure. There are breathtaking views from the imposing walls of Bamburgh Castle that stand proudly overlooking this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or visitors may spot rare puffins and seals from the Farne Islands and explore the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne while the tide is low for crossing.
The Coast of Kent: Kent is home to 350 miles/563 km of picture-perfect coastline featuring grand chalk and sandstone cliffs and more Blue Flag (most beautiful) sandy beaches than anywhere else in the country. Among the highlights are the chalk stacks at Botany Bay and the famous White Cliffs at St Margaret’s at Cliffe. Foodies may savor the prospect of sampling delectable cuisine from top chefs in Whitstable, while animal fans can look forward to spotting wild birds around Romney Marsh and the bird reserve at Dungeness.
North Cornwall: Prepare to be inspired by the ruins of Tintagel Castle on Cornwall’s north coast, perched high on a rugged rocky outcrop and linked for the first time in more than 500 years thanks to a ground-breaking bridge project by English Heritage. Fans of Britain’s rich ancient history and folklore will uncover the area’s connection to the legend of King Arthur and a coastline that has sparked the imagination for centuries.
South Devon: Those wanting to explore rocky headlands, hidden coves and sandy beaches can add South Devon’s Coast Path on the far southwest coast of England to their travel list. Once the haunt of smugglers, it is now home to miles of clifftop pathways that delight hikers. For example, in the heart of the South Devon Area of Outstanding National Beauty, the small harbor town of Salcombe and its waters have helped shape the area’s history – from the Salcombe Sand Bar that inspired poet Alfred Lord Tennyson to the ruins of Salcombe Castle, dating back to the reign of Henry VIII.
There are so many experiences along England’s Coast Path that no doubt helped England take second spot among Lonely Planet’s top ten countries to visit in 2020. Alas, COVID-19 put an end to any such plans for most of us, but there is always 2021 and the official opening of the England Coast Path to anticipate!
Food for Thought“I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.” Unknown
Four Ways to Experience Maui’s Wildlife
Visitors keen on getting a close encounter with Maui’s flora and fauna will discover endless land highlights and even more to explore in this Hawaiian Island’s surrounding waters and reefs. They will also find excellent highland and forest valley hiking, volcano exploration and birdwatching with some of the rarest species on earth. Here is a sample of what to expect.
1. Haleakala Volcano and Hawaii’s State Bird
Found only in the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii’s state bird, the nene, has a population of 2,500 birds, making it the world’s rarest goose. It is thought to have evolved from the Canada goose that most likely arrived on the islands about 500,000 years ago.
You may not hear the very soft sound made by these 16-inch-tall birds, but you will see them trotting around Haleakala’s summit. And while the volcano’s 10,023 foot peak can be reached by rented car, the road to the summit has plenty of tight curves with steep drop-offs that do not encourage the driver to enjoy the spectacular scenery all along the way. As an alternative, Skyline Hawaii offers a unique Haleakala Classic Sunrise Tour (breakfast included) after which guests have time to explore this National Park which holds more endangered species than any other U.S. National Park. You then descend the volcano aboard an ultra-comfy cruiser.
2. Maalaea Harbor and the Maui Ocean Center
Opened in 1998, the Maui Ocean Center, is definitely an all-day visit with one of the largest collections of live Pacific corals in the world, a virtual whale encounter in the Humpbacks of Hawai‘i Exhibit, 20 daily presentations, and outdoor tide pools. The icing on the cake is the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean exhibit with a 240-degree view acrylic tunnel 54-feet long to view marine life from many angles. Upon arriving, be sure to schedule your time to watch a short 3D film in the new theater where you’ll enjoy life-sized humpback whales swirling above and around you.
3. Kihei and Humpback Whales
Maui is tops for winter vacations whether you’re a human looking for a refuge from the winter cold or one of thousands of North Pacific humpback whales that migrate to its shores. These behemoths come to the pristine waters off the Hawaiian Islands from November through May, where they mate, calve, nurse their young—and play.
Seeing them breach from any of Maui’s beaches is a sight to behold, but for a truly memorable experience, try viewing these magnificent mammals from surface-level on a raft. Redline Rafting’s Maui Whale Watching Tour launches from the Kihei Boat Ramp aboard a sleek 35-foot raft equipped with cold drinks on a two-hour tour offered between December and April. The onboard marine naturalist will deepen your appreciation for one of the largest animals on earth.
4. Road to Hana and Flora Galore!
Waterfall after waterfall, beaches of every colored sand, and lush rainforests await those up for the challenge. Not only is this area filled with natural beauty, but the more you research, the more you’ll dig up historical gems and rich stories of ancient Polynesian lore. There are several excellent Road to Hana Tours led by local guides, or you can choose to explore on your own. While gaging your own abilities carefully, you may want to try hiking the Pipiwai Trail in Kipahulu to Waimoku Falls. Even though this area is part of Haleakala National Park, it is in strong contrast to the dry, cold volcano summit. Ohe’o Gulch has many waterfalls weaving through bamboo forests, past massive banyan trees and Hawaiian flowers of every kind.
The Maui Guide was created by locals and long-time residents who have experienced activities and areas numerous times before recommending them to visitors.
Lonely Planet Encourages Travelers to Think about Food
Having met with great success when it launched its own bible on Ultimate Travel, Lonely Planet has now jumped into the theme of culinary travel with the launch of Ultimate Eats. It takes a brave publisher to claim discovery of “The world’s top 500 food experiences … ranked”, but that is exactly what Lonely Planet has done with the 320 pages of this large-format book.
Let’s start by saying this is NOT a boring curated list of the world’s 500 best food experiences. It is a readable, colorful romp across the globe with the planet’s top chefs, food writers and many of Lonely Planet’s own food-obsessed authors. Each one shares their favorite, most authentic gastronomic encounters, and backs them up with lavish images of the food and its destination. It is a book made for browsing as you discover the culture behind each dish or drink, what makes them so special, and why the experience is so much more than food to fill you up. Readers may dip in and out of this book and use it as a ready reference in advance of any travels they have in mind to specific countries.
This Denver Public Library review captures the spirit of Ultimate Eats:
“You may disagree with the rankings, but you will certainly enjoy this vicarious international eating experience! This gorgeous slightly-oversized volume is full of fantastic photographs of food and dreamy destinations. Whether it is Sweden for köttbullar, or meatballs (#30) or Portugal for its supersize sandwich, franceshina (#331), foodies and travelers will find something to add to their bucket list. The very handy index is broken down by country, then by food, making it easy to assemble an eating itinerary. And for the adventurous, Ultimate Eats includes foraging for food (which includes caterpillars) in Australia with indigenous people (#91)!”
Lonely Planet is the world’s number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind and age of traveler. Since 1973 the company has printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travelers. Lonely Planet content can be found online, on mobile, video, and in 14 languages, 12 international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks and more.
COVID-19 Triggers a Spike in Staycations
According to definition, a staycation is spent in one’s home country rather than abroad or spent at home while taking day trips to local attractions. The concept is not new, but with pandemic panic never far from our thoughts, it hasn’t taken long for avid travelers to figure out ways to have their cake and eat it too. Sales and rentals of motor homes, houseboats, small yachts and even camping and tent trailer gear have gone through the roof in many western countries. Not only do these travel options allow travelers to do their safe social distancing, they also allow for self-catering so as to avoid the riskier eating out options of restaurants and cafes.
When did this word sneak into the English dictionary? According to a Connecticut travel blog, the word “staycation” was originally coined by Canadian comedian Brent Butt in the television show, Corner Gas, aired in October 2005. Staycations were also noted and quoted as an early travel phenomenon in the UK in 2009 when the country’s weak currency made overseas holidays for most Britons discouragingly expensive. Even looking beyond pandemics and wobbly currencies, these unfamiliar vacation options for many holidaymakers may well become a choice discovery to be repeated in the future well past COVID-19.
Now Airports Say “Don’t Show Up Too Early”!
In recent years airline passengers have been coached and cautioned to get to their airports for check-in at ever-earlier times, even threatened with gate closures well in advance of flight time. Now thanks to COVID-19, we’re turning back the clock on the whole exhausting process of navigating through major airports. Yes, passengers are currently being told at some facilities that they are creating social distancing chaos by lining up much too early!
People have been arriving up to eight hours ahead of flights at mega-airports like Heathrow in England because they thought that check-in and security would take much longer precisely because of the coronavirus and social distancing. While waiting in line, travelers are routinely posting photos on their social media, revealing dense queues snaking through buildings and outside with some people not wearing masks as demanded to enter an airport. Congestion issues abound, we are told!
As more international air travel is encouraged, will airports and their flow planners be able to keep travelers apart inside buildings never planned for such distancing? They hope so, even as vacationers are only just plucking up the courage to step out with their suitcases in the reduced numbers so far counted.