Paul Marshman is a boomer travel expert and blogger from Toronto, Canada. His site, The Travelling Boomer, fills in 50+ readers on everything from cruises to visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. His advice has been featured by The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, TravelAlerts.ca, and many more.
He was kind enough to answer some of our questions about travel below!
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Paul: I’ve been travelling since I was just out of university, but I started doing it seriously in 1990 when, on a whim and mostly out of boredom, I took leave from my job and went around the world. It was a great experience, and I began to do big trips every four years or so. Since then I’ve been to scores of countries — my current total is 66. I just have a hunger to see everything the world has to offer, and go to ever corner of the globe.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Paul: My specialty is the kind of travel that appeals to older travellers, or baby boomers. So the focus is on cultural attractions like the Hermitage museum and the chateaux of the Loire Valley, rather than bungee jumping in New Zealand. There’s also quite a bit of cruise coverage, since that’s a form of travel that’s made for boomers. However, I still fit in some adventure, like a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Paul: It’s hard to beat a trip around the world — that’s the trip of a lifetime. I saw the Taj Mahal at dawn, slept in longhouses with Borneo natives, trekked through the jungles of Thailand and experienced cherry blossom times in Tokyo. That was almost 30 years ago, and amazingly, you can still fly around the world for not much more than it cost me then.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Paul: Many of my ancestors are from Ireland, and somehow I’ve never managed to visit. So it’s at the top of my bucket list. I’m also drawn by the photos of the lush, green countryside, and the wonderful music.
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Paul: A good camera, and usually two. I’m a longtime photo bug, and now that I’m a blogger, photos are a big part of my site. They’re a powerful way to make the reader feel as if he or she is right there with me on my travels. And sometimes my “Photo of the week” posts are more popular than the destination pieces I spend much more time on.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Paul: Just go. Today, travel is easier and more rewarding than it’s ever been in the history of mankind. If you have a passport and a credit card, you can literally go anywhere on earth at will; there’s a plane leaving in a few hours. As well, since more and more people are travelling, it’s best to go now, before the places you want to see have changed — tourism does have an effect on places. I strongly believe that travel combats the prejudice and insular thinking that plagues the world, and gives rise to the kind of isolationism we’re seeing these days.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Paul: I’m a longtime member of two Twitter chats: The Road Less Travelled (#TRLT) and Culturetrav chat (#Culturetrav). They’re a great way to connect with other travellers and find out what’s going on.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Paul: Southeast Asia. It’s an area that offers exotic cultures, friendly people, and beautiful scenery. I have a permanent soft spot for Malaysia, but Indonesia is an amazing country as well, and so is Vietnam.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Paul: Nothing too esoteric, unfortunately. I use the Lonely Planet site for destination info, and Tripadvisor for first-hand experiences. However, I also use IntoHistory to find great places to stay; it lists historic hotels, houses and castles you can stay in all across Europe.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Paul: On a long flight, consider paying for a comfort seat, or whatever the airline calls it. With airline seats getting tighter as people get bigger, you can save yourself a lot of grief by buying a little extra space. Also, check the flight details when you book — it’s not worth enduring the flight from Hell to save $50.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Paul: Relax, and go with the flow. No trip goes absolutely smoothly, and a bump in the road can sometimes take you somewhere fascinating.
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Paul: My best advice: beware when a local decides he wants to be your friend for no reason, and especially if he wants to take you somewhere, or buy you a drink. Other than a couple of pickpocketing incidents, I’ve never been scammed, but many people have tried it on.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Paul: Malaysia and Indonesia have some of the tastiest and healthiest cuisines in the world, filled with fruits and veggies and exotic flavours. I could eat it every day (though I lay off the fish-head curry).
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Paul: Tahiti. It’s probably the most romantic place on earth, and one of the most beautiful. But bring lots of money — it’s definitely not cheap.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Paul: The most beautiful is Paris, but for beautiful and affordable, I’d pick Budapest. When the buildings along the riverfront are lit up at night, it’s magical.
TA: What’s one way people can get the most out of their cruise experience?
Paul: Get off the cruise line’s tour bus and do some exploring on your own. I always make a point of wandering through the town, or taking a local cab somewhere and talking to the driver. That said, be careful who you deal with, and where you wander — some ports are not entirely safe.
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life? Who were they?
Paul: I wouldn’t say anyone changed my life, but I met a fellow on a trip to Colombia who has become a friend and a travel companion. We’ve taken long road trips to see the wonders of Canada, and do a yearly birding trip to Point Pelee, Ontario.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Paul: Again, I’d say Southeast Asia, since it’s cheap enough to book good hotels and not need to share expenses. However, I’ve gone many places solo and never had a problem. The most difficult thing is eating in fancy restaurants solo; the best remedy is to try to meet other solo travellers and make a dinner date.
TA: What’s something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Paul: Behave like the whole country is a beach resort, or a party venue. Have a little respect and put on some pants if you’re visiting the national cathedral.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Paul: Canada. It’s a huge, amazing country with great things to see from coast to coast. From Newfoundland to British Columbia, it’s all worth a visit.