Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski's blog Baby Boomster focuses on active women over 50 who love to have fun, explore the world, stay healthy and vibrant for as long as possible, and want to make the world a better place for future generations. She has also been a professional voice-over actor for over 35 years in Los Angeles.
We got the chance to ask her some of our burning travel questions, and she was kind enough to answer them.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Rebecca: I've always loved traveling but didn't really get started doing it seriously until I was in my 50s. Life always got in the way and then I had two children to raise for many years by myself because my husband died. I finally had the opportunity to take a European trip to Spain with my boyfriend where we spent three weeks traveling around the country by train. After that I was hooked on travel to Europe. I love it!
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Rebecca: I wouldn't say I specialize but I love river cruising. It's such a wonderful way to visit smaller villages in a country. I also love that there are usually only about 150 passengers compared to a huge cruise ship with thousands. On my blog, I specialize in boomer travel for people over 50.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken? (Where did you go and why did you love it?)
Rebecca: We've gone on several amazing trips but one of the best was a month-long vacation that started in Rome. After four nights there, we took a train to Florence and visited several Tuscan hill towns as well as Siena. After that we drove to Sorrento, where we spent four more nights and then toured the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. We took the train back to Rome and boarded the Queen Elizabeth for an 11-day cruise ending in Southampton and then London. The cool thing was that we got unexpectedly upgraded when we reached the port and got to hang out at the Queen's Grill. The entire cruise and the people we met were incredible.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Rebecca: I would love to go to Croatia. I've heard it's quite astounding.
I've always loved traveling but didn't really get started doing it seriously until I was in my 50s. Life always got in the way
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Rebecca: I try to pack as little as possible because I'm 64 and don't want to haul around heavy bags. Being a blogger, I always bring my computer so I can write as I travel. Also, very comfortable shoes.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Rebecca: Find places outside of the main tourist areas and see what a country is really like. We did a three-week sailboat cruise of the Grenadines and Grenada where we were able to stop where there were hardly any tourists. Lots of goats and sheep.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Rebecca: Banff and the Canadian Rockies -- it's spectacular. Go in the summer.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Rebecca: Sit on the aisle -- when you're older it's important to be able to get up and move around every once in a while to prevent swollen ankles. Compression socks help also.
TA: What is your best money-saving tip when dealing with airlines?
Rebecca: Travel with only a carry-on so you don't have to pay luggage fees.
TA: How much do you read into online hotel reviews when you're planning a trip? How do you tell good advice from phony ones?
Rebecca: I look for authenticity in a review. Obviously, if someone has been given a free room or is doing a paid review, I'd be suspicious. Sometimes hotels or restaurants ask people to post good reviews. Look for details and honesty. No place is perfect.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Rebecca: Try to stay in smaller local run hotels. You get a more authentic experience and they often serve delicious free breakfast. Big hotel chains may be more comfortable but you miss out on the atmosphere.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Rebecca: Terrorist attacks. They will sometimes cancel a trip because they are worried about it. It's very rare. Just keep your eyes open but don't let it ruin a trip.
TA: What are some things you need to keep in mind when planning a vacation for a large group?
Rebecca: I've never planned a trip with a large group. I like small groups. Otherwise you have too many people who have needs that conflict with each other and it makes it hard to take your time and have fun.
TA: What's a travel scam travelers should be wary of? And if you've ever had someone try to pull a scam on you while traveling, please share the story!
Rebecca: When we were in the train station in Italy there were people who offered to help us find our train and carry our luggage. They asked to be paid and tried to intimidate us when we didn't want to pay the huge amount they demanded. It's best to avoid them.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Rebecca: Krakow, in Poland. It's one of the few medieval cities in Poland that wasn't destroyed during WWII and it's huge! You can have a first-class meal for two for about $30 U.S.
TA: Which is the friendliest country you've ever visited? The least friendly?
Rebecca: I thought Spain was incredibly friendly. They are laid back and love to party. I haven't really encountered an unfriendly country. I was only in France for part of a day and they were a little aloof.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous and why?
Rebecca: Alaska. It's freaking awesome! And the salmon is divine.