This isn’t your grandparents’ retirement, so why follow the same rules?
That is the general sentiment of Louisville’s Liz Dahl, founder of Boomer Travel Patrol, an online travel site that caters to Baby Boomers, or as she puts it, “to those on the fun side of 50.”
A travel agent and public relations professional, Dahl, 67, came up with the idea of the website because she fits the demographic. Around her 50th birthday, she reflected on all she had done in her life and contemplated how much more she intended to do. She was excited to enter her golden years and live life to the fullest. But then it happened. There it was in the mailbox—the invitation to join a certain well-known national organization that focuses on retired people.
Dahl, who freely admits it is a wonderful organization, did not want to be “one of those” people.
“We exercise. We eat better. We tend to go into retirement kicking and screaming,” Dahl says. “We certainly don’t want to be defined as ‘retired.’ ”
Before the Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—hit retirement age, Dahl felt the only travel opportunities for seniors seemed to be cruises or bus trips. She concedes that those are both great ways to travel, but as she approached retirement age, she was thinking of life experiences and of all the places she wanted to visit.
So she assembled an assortment of bloggers—or Patrollers, as she calls them—who were in the same age range and brought them on board to share their experiences and advice. These are not necessarily travel writers but bloggers with inside information about topics such as hotels, air travel, the arts, RVs and sports.
Blondee, who handles the food-related news, is a chef, and Mark, who mans the sports beat, is a lifelong athlete. Vicky writes about traveling with special needs, and, having been born with a disability herself, she can speak from experience when she shares information about accessibility, menus for dietary restrictions, and relief areas for service dogs.
The Patrollers are from all over the world, with a wide array of backgrounds, and they write about what they know. Dahl finds that readers come back again and again for advice and tips from her expert contributors.
“Baby Boomers are a diverse group. We are not the same,” Dahl says. “Although the younger members may be more adventurous and the older members may be more luxurious, the travel industry needs to cater to all of us.”
She says that, just last year, Baby Boomers spent $157 billion on travel, and that is too huge a number to be ignored.
“It seems like age 18-49 is the coveted demographic, and advertising agencies are not interested in anyone older than that,” she says. “So it was easy to see that, with the amount of money Boomers spend on travel, it is a huge part of their life.”
The site went live in July 2013, and has grown to meet the needs of its global audience. It is strictly travel information—never a sales pitch—and now includes podcasts, travel tips and news, and even a travel crossword puzzle.
One of the writers for the site is 68-year-old Don Anderson, who handles the Pet Patrol. The Louisville resident shares information about traveling with a pet, and he gives first-person accounts of his adventures through the eyes of Susie, his Miniature Australian Shepherd.
“Our age group tends to add fur kids to our families to fill in for human children who have grown up,” he says, “so it is only natural that we want to take them with us when we travel.”
Traveling with a pet can be restricting, Anderson says, but sometimes it is actually easier than checking Fido or Fluffy into a kennel or finding someone to care for the pet while you are gone.
Anderson, who also does all the tech work for the Boomer Travel Patrol site, keeps an eye on news from the airline and hotel industries regarding pet travel. In addition to supplying travel tips, he also includes dog-training tips. “You have to have a well-mannered dog so, when you do travel, you have good results,” he says.
Another of the Patrollers is Diane Diehl, a 67-year-old flight attendant from Utah. She blogs about news from the airline industry, destination information and travel tips she has learned on the job. “As a flight attendant for the last 18 years, I do quite a bit of international flying,” she says. “I tell my readers about must-see attractions, how to stay healthy while traveling, and even what to pack.”
With her firsthand experiences and the fact that she herself is a Baby Boomer, Diehl believes people trust her advice. “I basically try to help make air travel a positive experience for everyone, so they can just enjoy their trip,” she says.
The website, boomertravelpatrol.com, is updated constantly by this team of Patrollers who bring their own experiences and knowledge to the table.
“Boomer Travel Patrol not only helps to point Boomers in the direction they may want to go, we also help them to enjoy learning about it,” Dahl says. “It is full of information but fun to read, too.”
When Liz Dahl plugs Kentucky travel, it is hard for her to refrain from covering the state’s obvious attractions, such as horse racing and bourbon. “Both of those have mass appeal,” she says. “Those are the hooks that bring them in, but it is everything else that makes them stay.”
The “everything else” includes Kentucky artistry, state parks and scenic beauty, but she adds that the Commonwealth’s people are friendly, which is appealing to travelers, too.
Dahl looks for the not-so-obvious when making Kentucky recommendations. Her latest find is Popes Creek Ranch in Lebanon. Consisting of 1,100 acres of unspoiled farm and woodland areas, the ranch offers unique accommodations, such as treehouses and teepees. The owners encourage visitors to bond with nature and camp, hike, and bike without the distractions of everyday living.
“It is an interesting way to spend your time, and that is what I look for in my own travels, so I’m happy to tell people about Popes Creek,” Dahl says.
From the Boomer Pet Patrol, Don Anderson recommends Selena’s Restaurant at Willow Lake Tavern in Louisville as the perfect place to bring your dog. He says the establishment has a wonderful 150-seat outdoor dining area, where well-behaved dogs can take in the sights and smells while their owners enjoy the fabulous menu offerings.
As the owner of a travel agency in Louisville in the 1970s, Liz Dahl possessed organizational skills that caught the eye of Kentucky First Lady Phyllis George Brown, who was married to then-Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. Phyllis George Brown hired Dahl as her chief of staff. It was the first time in the state’s history that a first lady had a chief of staff.
She kept the first lady organized and traveled with her, promoting Kentucky along the way.
“No matter where we traveled, I always brought along bourbon samples or bourbon balls or jams, jellies and cigars from Kentucky,” Dahl says. “No one was promoting our products at that time, and the Browns did a great job of starting that whole idea.”
So where does Dahl go when she travels outside of Kentucky? She loves the culture, history and scenery of Italy but also adores the pure, untamed landscapes of Iceland.