Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of Luggage and Lipstick -- an award-winning travel blog for baby boomer adventurers. She was named by TripAdvisor as one of "20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials." Patti is the author of the book "Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone," and has over 150 bylines in 40 publications, including The Huffington Post, The Washington Post Sunday Travel Section, International Living Magazine, Travel Girl, Epicure & Culture, Travel Play Live, and Ladies Home Journal.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Patti: I did my first solo trip at age 19. I always loved studying geography and history as a student and couldn't wait to explore the world. That first solo flight took me out of my comfort zone, and I grew so much from it. I continued to travel and try new things. Over the years, traveling morphed from a hobby to a passion to a career. People tell me all the time that I have the dream job, and I agree. I love my life!
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Patti: My motto has always been "Above all, life should be fun!" In that vein, I specialize in Baby Boomer Adventure Travel. I'm always on the lookout for three things:
1. Outdoor adventures to try, like skydiving, hang gliding, swimming with whale sharks, snorkeling with wild sea lions, paragliding off cliffs, scuba diving, cave tubbing, hiking, kayaking, exploring ruins, dog sledding, and race car driving, to name just a few.
2. The prettiest beach in the world.
3. The world's best margarita.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Patti: Ha! That's like asking me which one of my kids I love best! If I had to choose, I'd say Bora Bora. Author James Mitchener was right when he dubbed it, "the most beautiful island in the world." It's stunning. I stayed in an overwater bungalow with the crystal aqua-colored ocean beneath me and a view across the lagoon to the coconut palm beach volcano behind it.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Patti: Every calendar with the theme "beautiful beaches" features the exotic Seychelles. I've always dreamed of going there. It tops my bucket lists and I'll share a secret....2019 looks like it might be the year!
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Patti: I always pack a lightweight textile with multiple uses, e.g. a scarf, sarong, and a head covering for religious sites or sun or wind.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Patti: Get out and travel now, because you never know when this day will be your last. In 2014, I was in a horrific car accident while traveling in South Africa. I incurred many injuries, some of them life-threatening, including a torn diaphragm which caused my stomach and intestines to herniate into my thoracic cavity, a completely severed left femur which had to be repaired with a series of titanium rods, plates and screws and re-position back into my hip joint which was crushed and had to be "cemented" back together, six pelvic fractures, left lung collapsed, right clavicle broken, right wrist broken, and numerous sprains, bruises, bumps and cuts.
I spent 7 weeks in that hospital, which was nowhere near the standard of American hospitals. Still, I feel like I was lucky. I could have just as easily died. I could have damaged my spine. I could have sustained a brain injury.
I vowed not to let that accident define me, and after months of physical therapy in which I had to learn to walk again, I started traveling again. It was very difficult at first, but I'm nothing if not tenacious. I was not willing to give up on the life of travel that I loved so much.
I never quite got back to 100%, but I can do almost everything I could do before. I did have to take bungee jumping off my bucket list, though!
Even more than before the accident, I only do what I want to do, but maybe more importantly, I don't do what I don't want to do. Life is good.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Patti: I love my Facebook Boomer Travel group! It's a friendly no-judgement bunch of seasoned travelers and bloggers who will answer any question you may ask without making you feel ignorant or intrusive. It's been really great to personally meet with so many of them over the years, at conferences and on press trips.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Patti: If you can't fit it into a roll-aboard suitcase, you don't need it. Lost and delayed luggage are a hassle and can torpedo your trip. If it's in the overhead compartment, you won't need to worry. I also recommend one that has a zipper expansion option -- I don't mind checking my bag on the way home since I generally pick up special local gifts when traveling.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Patti: Well, I'm an adventurer, not a foodie, but I have to say, when I traveled to Lviv, Ukraine with JayWay Travel, they took me to the most amazing dining experiences that I've ever had, and probably would not have found. There's a dozen or so "emotional restaurants" that offer not only great food, but experiences from wacky to mysterious to upscale. Some of my favorites were the beef filled varenkny (dumplings), borscht (sour beet soup) potato pancakes, handmade chocolate...and honey vodka.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Patti: I was smitten with Havana, Cuba when I visited with my boyfriend/photographer in 2017. We stayed in a penthouse apartment right on the malecón with views of both the ocean and Old Havana. We found the once-stunning now-crumbling architecture in Old Havana fascinating. The culture, history, music, and food were quite memorable, as was the rest of the island which we explored in our rental car.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to explore Cuba as a journalist, especially since the restrictions for Americans closed up again soon after we returned.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Patti: Hmmmmm. Beautiful AND affordable is very different than what I would say for each separately. I'm going to say Gdansk, Poland, because of the architecture, affordability, location on the river, history of the place where World War II started, and proximity to the Polish Riviera. Gdansk's Old Town is different than most of the old towns in Europe which are mostly Austro-Hungarian style. Gdansk was decimated by bombs during and after WWII, but when they rebuilt, they went back to a prior Mannerist style, instead of the more Germanic Austro-Hungarian style. Being a feisty person myself, I can't help but love that nose-thumbing!
TA: What's something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Patti: It frustrates me when I hear about people staying and/or eating at chains. What a wasted opportunity! The best way to get the real feel of a country is to eat local food. It's different, fresh, tastes better, and contributes to the local economy. As for accommodations, I like unique, boutique hotels (I prefer not to stay in hostels) especially in the "Old Town" parts.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Patti: What if I told you there is a county where medieval castles stand perched on mountaintops overlooking the red-tiled rooftops of villages below; where iridescent turquoise waves lap onto sugar-sand beaches; where picturesque rows and rows of juicy grapes are producing some of the region's finest wines; where the gastronomy is so fresh and delicious yet startlingly inexpensive? Throw in a rich and troubled history, traditional culture, ancient ruins, natural phenomena, the coolest flag and the friendliest locals you'll ever meet for good measure. What if I told you that country was Albania? It's the first country I visited with JayWay Travel, and it stole my heart, much to my surprise. I can't wait to go back!