Steve Barrymore is a lifelong traveler and former travel blogger for NewsOK.com. In 30 years, he has journeyed to five continents including 20 Caribbean islands.
Q. As boomers go, what are you seeing in terms of the travel market?
A. There are three different segments out there. The first one is people who have worked hard all their lives and never been any place and their goal in life is to go to Hawaii and stay in a nice hotel and lay around the pool and really enjoy it and tell all their friends it was the greatest experience of their life.
And then, I think an emerging market in travel, especially for boomer travel is to take their grandchildren and children on the trips with them because a lot of — even financial planning people are saying that rather than die and leave your money to your kids, why not have some enjoyable life experiences … and spend some of that money that you were going to leave them and take them on trips. I run into a lot of those.
Then the other one is the people who say, you know what, there is more to life than just going and laying around the hotel pool sipping cocktails. I want to go someplace and I want an experience. … Everyone has a latent desire in life and says, “Gee, if only I had done that.”
Q. What are boomers looking for when they travel?
A. They’re looking for growth experiences. The ones I talk with are like wanting to learn more about what’s going on out there. We're in a more global society now. People are wanting to experience it first-hand.
Q. What’s the best way to achieve that?
A. You have to do a lot of reading. You have to do a lot of research. Obviously, the Internet — I read a lot of travel magazines, the New York Times travel section. I'm constantly searching for travel stories and finding out about different places.
Q. What kinds of things to you look for in travel magazines and travel sites?
A. I'm looking for a “wow” experience. You can do Cancun any day, but you can’t do Hong Kong. You can’t do Myanmar. You can’t do a jungle trip to Ecuador every single day, so those are the things I’m looking for.
These are experiences that other people sometimes only wish they could do, but you’ve got to get over that fear of traveling. That’s not to say that the world’s not a dangerous place, but there are a lot of places where the danger is so overrated. It's a shame that it keeps people from going there. They read the State Department reports … or they have a preconceived notion and they don’t do any research.
I do get on travel discussion boards. That’s been huge for me. Whether it be Fodors or Tripadvisor — I've used Lonely Planet a lot. I try to triangulate and vet all the information I get and find out what the truth is. … The more you do it the more confidence you gain. You just have to be smart. But you have to be smart in New York City or Chicago.
Q. Where do you find the best deals?
A. Often times the airline sites themselves have last-minute fares. There are other sites that specialize in last-minute getaways … like Sky Auction. Sometimes it's hard to get (both) a cheap airfare and a cheap hotel together. If you can just pack up and leave in about five days, you can get some pretty good deals. Don’t let the destination drive you and say ‘I want to go to this place and I’m going to wait for the right fare.’ It may come and it may never come.
Q. What tips would you give the last-minute travelers?
A. You have to be flexible. My goal is to always have fun and make it a learning experience. Don't let disappointments sidetrack you.
I have a travel wardrobe that’s quick-dry, non-wrinkle. Often times I wash my clothes in the sink … you can get small, two-load packages of (laundry detergent). For a 10-day trip, I only have to take three changes of clothes. That way I (can get by with) carry-on luggage — if it’s not a family trip.
I always make sure I have plenty of power adaptors.
It’s extremely important have the right international data, text and long-distance packages figured out before you go. If you don’t have the right plan, it can cost you into the hundreds and thousands of dollars for data. Even if you don’t turn on the phone … I’ve talked travelers who have had hundreds of dollars on their bill when they got home (because they didn’t turn off the data roaming).
I make copies of my passport and credit cards and email them to myself so if I get into a problem I at least have access to my credit card numbers and my passport.
Q. What tips would you offer for traveling to more adventurous locations where security and creature comforts are in shorter supply?
A. I really guard my belongings closely. … I always keep have my stuff secured to me, or I use a cable lock where I can keep my stuff cabled together or cabled to something.
I’m very careful where I go. Once I get to a place, I always talk to local people about the safety aspect. I find that they are very honest and they will tell places not to go.
It’s difficult not to look American, but I don't wear anything flashy or logo clothing. Women shouldn't wear expensive jewelry ... Keep a low profile.
STEVE BARRYMORE’S 10 MUST-SEE DESTINATIONS
• Hong Kong
• Marrakesh, Morroco
• Santiago, Chile
• Quito, Ecuador
• Bogota, Columbia
• Buenos Aires, Argentina