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It's a Great Time to be Siliconno - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut      back to TTN home page
by Joe Harkins- Nov 04, 98

    By now, most of you born during the post-WWII birth-rate spike would be more than happy if the phrase "Baby Boomer" would disappear from the public vocabulary faster than the late King of Rock ‘n Roll ever left the building. Of course, Elvis avoided reaching that demographic status by making an early departure but the rest of us are reluctantly moving towards the exits with as much dignity as we can manage.

    If that final prospect bothers you, take heart. Aside from worries about availability of Social Security and Medicare, being a Senior Citizen really isn’t all that bad. To make sure you get there, just continue to wear your seat belt between meals, brush regularly after driving and don’t be embarrassed when similar "senior moments" of confusion occur. The travel discounts are worth the wait.

    Some online marketers are so eager to do business that the age-definition of "senior" has been steadily lowered to the point where many of you are already qualified for the same privileges as your grand-parents. Much of the time, the only requirement for Golden Age pricing is that you are able to look the big-five-oh right in the bifocals without blinking.

    Veteran travel journalist Arthur Frommer, who has already accumulated more golden years than some of us have lived in our entire lives, has an excellent introduction to the subject of Over 50 Travel. His free daily newsletter delivered via email is the best in the business.

    For a less polished look at the rewards of living long enough, visit Seniors-Site. The home page seems literally to have outgrown its original design because it doesn’t automatically resize to smaller monitor screens. In order to find travel information, users with screens smaller than 17 inches will have to scroll to the right. Click on "Site Map", then scroll down to a block of travel links. A search function for this richly loaded site would be a great help.

    However, despite those shortcomings, the quality and variety of information on Seniors-Site.com are worth the effort. The first travel bulletin I opened promises, "Get a small group together (nine plus you = a group of 10) and you go free" to Hawaii, Panama, Alaska and other exciting destinations.

    If that concept appeals to you, you should get to know Group Travel Leader, a lively online newsletter filled with reports and advice from others who enjoy free or inexpensive adventure by forming groups. Service sites like Third Age and Senior Home Exchange also offer interesting travel alternatives.

    A unique club for people over 50, the Evergreen Bed & Breakfast Club provides comfortable and inexpensive accommodations ($15 a night for two, breakfast included!) in the homes of club members in more than 1,000 cities throughout North America. Overseas hosts are being added. Hosts and guests each pay a modest annual fee. Since 1982, the club has grown to over 3,500 members.

    Perhaps the most satisfying thing about Seniordom is the confluence of available time and the wisdom regarding how to make good use of it. Elderhostel provides educational travel adventures to adults aged 55 and above at schools and college campuses around the world that otherwise would sit empty at various times of the year. Some programs use faculty members made available during seasonal hiatuses to present programs off the school premises. Those off-campus "classes" on art, culture, language, etc., take place on the road, often in foreign countries.

    It's a shame that the Elderhostel web site suffers from such an inadequate navigational structure. The various programs are lumped in one long scroll of a page that lacks either a concise overview or a clickable menu of programs. (Update Mar '99: I'm happy to report that Elderhostel apparently has responded to the critique and has greatly improved the page's navigation.)

    Among the interesting and exciting Elderhostel choices are:

  • International Service Programs, which combine study and community service "in the field," are rare opportunities to "learn by sharing." Expenses are often tax-deductible.
  • Intergenerational Programs foster exchange between people of different ages. By sharing the joy of discovery, they learn about each other’s perspectives and get to know each other better.
  • Performance Programs invite Elder-hostelers to participate in actual group performances such as choral, instrumental, dance, and theater.
  • Recreational Vehicle Programs differ from regular Elderhostel programs as they require hostelers to provide their own housing: recreational vehicle, or travel trailer.

    As the wave of maturing adults begins it’s actuarial rise, a growing number of tour operators are attracting both active and passive travelers with packages that are definitely not your grandmother's Grand Tour. A small sample includes:

    Finally, if you suffer from the popular delusion that senior travel is dull, a visit to Yahoo Clubs will correct that. Click on "Travel", then on "Find a Club", "Seniors" and then the link to "Lonely Ladies Travel Companion."

*Other Good Sites for Senior Travel:

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