One Couple’s Search for Life Experiences
Tom and Joyce love travel, continual learning, all types of cultural activities, hiking, and good food and wine. Most importantly, we love experiences—the types of experiences that we look back on as some of the most unique, most memorable moments of our lives. Three of the most memorable travel experiences of our lives were:
- Snorkeling in magnificent coral garden, surrounded by giant clams and fish and coral of every imaginable shape and color, off our own private beach on the Great Barrier Reef ‘s Lizard Island.
- A full-day, private, guided bicycle tour from Yangshu,China, along the incomparably beautiful Li River, with lunch at our guide’s home and stops for chats with local residents and farmers.
- Reaching the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome (a grueling 12-hour, 4,800-foot elevation gain hike), followed (after a long hot shower) by a dinner and night at the graciously rustic Ahwahnee hotel (in a top floor room with a view of Half Dome, of course);
This blog discusses how we purposely plan for, and sometimes find ourselves unexpectedly in the middle of these and dozens of other life experiences, while pursuing our own personal passions—passions that include:
- Active Travel, virtually any type of travel, as long as it is intellectually and physically active—including self-guided walks of cities, hiking in national parks and exploring sites and cultures in countries around the world.
- Experiences include things like touring the Picasso/Matisse retrospective at New York’s MOMA, a 4-day Inca Trail trek to Machu Pichu and exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat (Cambodia) and Tikal (Guatemala). While those were planned, we have other unplanned experiences such as finding ourselves surrounded by and “accepted as part of” a pod of dolphins while snorkeling (Lanai) and having machine guns pointed at us in Red Square in Moscow during the 1991 coup.
- Lifelong learning and education in areas around all of our interests—especially current affairs, global politics and economics.
- Theater, especially plays and dramas.
- Food and restaurants, from tours of sustainable farm and cooking classes to eating imaginative, well-prepared food in all types of interesting venues (from floating kitchens through Michelin 4-star restaurants) to vegging out at one-of-a-kind tiki bars on secluded beaches.
- Hiking and other active endeavors, less strenuous than in our early years, but still in search of energetic hikes in beautiful and interesting settings and “killer views”. While our scuba diving adventures have been replaced by snorkeling, we continue our search for new forms of experiencing our world, from paddle boarding in Hawaii to taking our first flying lessons.
- Wine and wine events, especially those when we can experience venues and events surrounding wine. We love planning day and weekend trips though the world’s best wine regions (with a particular focus on the West Coast, where we live).
- Art, not in creating our own (since neither of us have any artistic talent), but in finding, enjoying, learning and buying in museums, special exhibits and shows, art fairs and in galleries. (We often plan trips around special shows and art fairs.
Why Did We Create This Blog?
Our friends and family either love or hate traveling with us, since we pack so much into every day. Even if they may not want to travel with us, they still frequently ask us for advice as to where to go, what to see, or where to dine in various destinations. We’ve created this site to share our passions and experience with our friends and to have a place to remind us of some of our greatest adventures.
Who We Are?
Your ActiveBoomerTravel hosts are Tom (mostly) and Joyce (occasionally), former business executives who sold their professional services company and are now in their semi-retirement “encore” careers. Fortunately, we are still healthy and very active (thanks to the hills of San Francisco), allowing us to continue to enjoy travel.
Our passions in travel and all forms of leisure activities began post-college, when we “escaped” from upstate New York to start our professional careers in Chicago—a city that opened our eyes to experiences we had never known: travel, fine dining, art, theater, symphony, architecture, multiple opportunities for continuing education and independent and guided walking tours of diverse neighborhoods. We have since lived in Washington D.C., Boston, and San Francisco—each of which we selected based on lifestyle, activities, and regional travel opportunities. And yes, except for a brief stint in the suburbs, we have always lived within the actual cities we call home.
Between moves, we built-in travel breaks. Whether exploring regional, national, or international areas, these breaks revitalized us and allowed us to hunker down and work harder in anticipation for our next break (which Tom meticulously plans). Next up is to sell our San Francisco home and spend several months living in each of a number of other cities and areas that we want to explore in much greater depth than is possible in brief visits (among the top options are Sydney, Shanghai, Paris, London, Seattle and return stays in Washington, Seattle and Arcadia National Park).
Our Approach to Travel and Leisure
We pursue each of our interests—especially travel and restaurants—with passion. Virtually every business trip includes time for seeing and exploring the area and every vacation is:
- Designed around someplace that we want to see (Paris, Kyoto, Glacier Bay) or something we want to experience (hiking the Inca Trail, diving on the Great Barrier Reef, doing Carnival in Rio);
- Built around a wide range of activities, from walking tours, art exhibits, theater, wine tastings, and as many new and interesting restaurants as we can possibly pack in (and afford);
- Starts with an hour-by-hour itinerary, to ensure that we can do everything we want—but still have enough of a cushion to allow us to spend more time doing something we particularly enjoy, fit in a new stop that we learn about on the road, or maybe just to veg out if we need some downtime; and
- Filled with potential alternatives. If a restaurant is unexpectedly closed—we know of another in the area. If an activity takes less time than we have budgeted, we have two or three options for filling the time.
A Travel and Leisure Partnership
Our marriage, our business, and our travel and leisure activities are, as in the case of most good partnerships, based on complementary skills.
Tom is the planner. He has devoted his life to research, learning, exploration, planning, and writing. He brings the same skills he used in his career into our leisure activities. With his research and files of articles and notes on places, restaurants, activities, etc., he always has a list of must-dos in any location.
Joyce is the plan executer. She meticulously researches the best and most economical flights, the best seats on these flights, the most cost-effective places to stay (based on our location and cost parameters), and tracks every dollar we spend (to stay within our annual budgets).
Enjoying on a Budget
No, we don’t have an unlimited bank account. While we have built a comfortable life, we still need to budget. To maximize our experiences while minimizing our cost outlays, we follow 3 rules:
- Splurge for special experiences. That 5-star restaurant, that special hotel, the plane ride into a unique, remote area. After all, we will only live once!
- Minimize expenses when possible. Find the best pricing, seek out discounts, find creative ways to experience things (such as eating lunch versus dinner at expensive restaurants).
- Balance cost versus comfort and experience. No more youth hostels for us, but we usually can find comfortable, reasonably-priced hotels, with an occasional splurge. Although we seldom fly first class (unless we are upgraded or trade in our precious frequent flyer points for long international trips), long, all-night, international flights are always business class. For shorter trips, we typically find ways to comfortably travel in coach.
We hope you enjoy this blog and share with us (and our readers) your adventures. Of course, your privacy is of upmost concern and we will never, ever, reveal any personal data you privately share with us. We will post comments unless you ask us to keep them confidential.