Jane and Henk are the husband and wife team behind GrownupTravels.com, a website offering inspiration and information for travellers 45+. They believe that "the best souvenirs are stories", and while Jane obsesses over uncovering the unique and the boutique around the world, Henk focuses -- literally -- on capturing the photos of their travels. (And since a picture is worth a thousand words, he leaves most of the storytelling to Jane.)
Jane was kind enough to answer a few of our questions below...
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Jane: I first caught the travel bug at 23 when I travelled to Italy and Greece, and fell in love with cobblestones, ancient history and living like a local. I was so infatuated with Rome in fact, that I moved there for 2 years to live. Fifteen years and many, many trips later I met Henk, who not only has wanderlust himself but is afflicted with a bug of his own: photography.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Jane: In a nutshell: No kids, no backpacks, no bus tours. We feature independent travel with affordable luxuries, adventure with soft landings, and unique places to stay that are themselves a story.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Jane: Peru. There is SO much here to see and do way beyond just Machu Picchu! The culture, art, geography, language and history is incredibly rich and diverse. Every region feels like its own mini-country.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Jane: Petra in Jordan.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Jane: Neo Citran (a cold medication).
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Jane: If nothing else, learn how to say Hello, Please and Thank You in every language. You'd be surprised the difference that can make.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Jane: Travel Past 50, Travel Massive (a community of digitally-savvy bloggers, vloggers and content creators), Hecktic Travels, the Planet D.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Jane: Canada's North (the Yukon, Nunavut, Northwest Territories). This is a part of the planet that is spectacular, remote, vast and unique. We've only been to the Yukon ourselves but it's whetted our appetite for more North.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Jane: On really long-haul multi-leg flights or for long airport layovers, look for the pay-as-you-play airport lounges that are not affiliated with specific airlines, (like Plaza Premium Lounges) that are open to the public. A hot shower or place to sleep/relax after a gruelling flight is worth the money!
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Jane: Take a digital photo of your important travel documents (passport, itineraries, credit cards etc.). That way you have another record of them in case the originals get lost.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Jane: Germs on planes. And don't read all the horror stories online, they'll freak you out. (That being said, I do bring anti-bacterial wipes with me so I can wipe down the tv screen, armrests, etc. Psychologically it makes my space feel cleaner and fresher.)
TA: What's a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Jane: 'Unofficial taxis'. Stick to official taxis, or services you trust (Uber or Lyft). If some random guy just offers you a lift from the train station or airport, steer clear.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Jane: Positano, Italy. If you Google 'most romantic spots in the world' Positano will likely be there. We actually met a couple who got married there because of that kind of search result. But then, I've known about Positano since BG ('Before Google')!
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Jane: Sintra, Portugal. The whole town looks like it's right out of a fairy-tale. The town is a very popular destination, but go anyways. Since it's Portugal, it's still relatively cheap compared to other European destinations. Don't miss visiting Quinta da Regaleira -- an estate with a Romantic garden to die for including a really cool 'Initiation Well'.
TA: What's one way people can get the most out of their cruise experience?
Jane: Hmmmm....I would say pick a cruise that aligns with what's most important to you (food options, route, number of passengers). If you don't like crowds, you won't like the 5000-passenger monster boats. If all you care about is food, pay extra for that gourmet cruise. If the destinations along the way are most important, look for cruises that allow you lots of time in port to explore.
TA: What's something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Jane: I am not a fan of selfie sticks. I think they actually isolate people. Why not just ask someone to take your photo? You might actually enjoy interacting with another human.