posted on 05/25/2011 via
BabyBoomerTrips.com: We would like to take you back to a time when you were first starting to think about traveling independently. Can you relay some personal travel experiences from when you were just starting to travel solo? Were your travel experiences very simple, such as going to "the lake," or the nearest "big city," or was it something more exotic like backpacking through Europe, hiking through Nepal, or taking a VW van cross-country? How much planning was involved back then, and what were your information sources?
Pauline Frommer: In my family, we never just traveled. All our “family vacations” were spent backpacking through Europe on $5 a day; or checking up on the Curacao and Amsterdam hotels my father ran for about a decade; or keeping tabs on the vacation packages he operated to Europe or Egypt (he wore many hats in the course of his long career). So, I think it's appropriate (or perhaps just perverse) that my first solo trip was actually a research trip for my father. A friend and I backpacked from Madrid, Spain to the very tippy toe of Italy, making our way back to Paris and then across England so that we could research articles on a number of subjects, from visiting the sites Van Gogh painted in Southern France to vacations at the experimental community of Findhorn in Scotland. By the end of the trip, my traveling companion Darren and I were no longer speaking to one another, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I started meeting other travelers in the hostels and small B&B's we chose, spending the day with a Brit here, and an Aussie there, seeing more and having much more fun than I would have had with Darren (sorry D). Since we had research to do, our itinerary was carefully mapped out in advance, though we mostly booked our hostels and B&B's on the spot.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: In your early travel days, how did you view the idea of flying to some distant country or a third world country? How does this compare to now?
Pauline Frommer: Since I was brought up on the road, starting with my first trip to Europe at the age of four months, flying to a distant country always seemed like a natural thing to do. Now I know how unusual that type of upbringing is, and how extraordinarily lucky I was. I'm the mother of two young daughters and I take them with me on assignment whenever I can. I think there's no greater education than travel and I always encourage parents to bring the kids along. Yes, it can sometimes be stressful, but the rewards far outweigh the hassles.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: A fair amount of time has elapsed since you first started to travel alone. How has the travel industry changed since that time? How have your personal travel habits changed?
Pauline Frommer: Travelers have much more power nowadays thanks to the internet. It's made a lot of the elements of travel - booking hotels, airfares, cruises - much less opaque. I'm not sure if the way I travel has changed all that much (except that nowadays I have to carry a diaper bag and lots of books and toys...hmm, I guess that is a big change). Growing up we always stayed in hotels, but I try to stay in rental apartments or in private B&B's (ie B&B's that are one room in a person's home) when I can. I do this because these types of accommodations give me access to a kitchen (a godsend when you're traveling with kids) but also because I find that these "non-traditional" accommodations place me in real neighborhoods (rather than tourist enclaves) and make it more likely that I'll meet locals when I travel (always a highlight to my mind). They also tend to be a lot cheaper and more spacious. In the new Pauline Frommer guides, we concentrate heavily on "non-traditional" accommodations, an innovative approach for a guidebook (if I do say so myself!)
BabyBoomerTrips.com: Do you still have a "Dream Vacation"? If so, where/what would that be?
Pauline Frommer: I haven't yet gotten to Turkey and I'm dying to go there. I'd also love to return to India. I've traveled all around the north of India, but haven't yet seen the south. Those would be two dream vacations; I have many others.
BabyBoomerTrips.com:List your 5 top travel destinations.
Pauline Frommer: That's a tough one!! I usually am most enamored of the place I've just visited. I guess I'd say Ireland, India, Brazil, Italy and my home city of New York, though I also love, love, love Paris (who doesn't?) and really enjoy Thailand and Japan and Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon...wait, that's many more than five!
BabyBoomerTrips.com: In your opinion, what do you think some of the hottest travel destinations for baby boomers will be in the near future?
Pauline Frommer: Maybe because I'm not a baby boomer I don't tend to think of them as traveling that differently from my generation. And it really depends on what nationality you're discussing. Only 23% of Americans even have passports, so they'll be going to places like Las Vegas, Orlando, NYC and the National Parks. I wish we Americans were more adventurous, but we're living through a rather xenophobic era; and unfortunately, the cost of travel is on the rise, which also discourages novice travelers.
About Pauline: I'm currently creating a new series of guidebooks for the budget traveler which will be called, oddly enough, the Pauline Frommer guides. The first three – New York, Hawaii and Italy – will be in bookstores in August of 2006. The next six will be coming out in 2007. Before this gig, I was the defacto travel editor of MSNBC.com's travel section, and before that I was the Editor in Chief of Frommers.com. My travel articles have appeared in numerous publications, and I've won a People's Voice Webby (for my work on Frommers.com) as well as a Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers (for my magazine work).
I also have a thriving career as a talking head, appearing twice weekly on CNN's Headline News to discuss travel trends (Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:40pm). About twice a month I co-host or substitute-host my father's syndicated radio show.
I'm married to physical therapist Mahlon Stewart and have two wonderful daughters, Veronica (age 7) and Beatrix (age 3). Wesleyan University is my Alma Mater, I'm proud to say and I've never much liked brussels sprouts.