Susan Snelson Spiegel loved her 1975-76 junior year spent at Gonzaga-in-Florence, Italy.
But the business major, weighed down with required classes that year, regretted she never took a class from Mercedes Carrara, an Italian professor famous for her knowledge of art history.
So eight years ago, Spiegel, now 58, took a sabbatical from her busy life as spouse, mother of four, active volunteer, and she spent a summer term back at GU in Florence, taking Carrara's art history class that included walking tours of Florence's museums.
She was the oldest person in class, but Spiegel didn't care.
"I have a huge desire to learn," Spiegel said. "Carrara takes a beautiful work of art and makes it come alive."
Seattle resident Spiegel is an uber-traveler, with more time, energy and resources for travel than most, but Spiegel's adventures provide a glimpse into how boomers might do travel in the coming years.
Older boomers - transitioning soon into retirement and part-time work in greater numbers - will find more time, resources and renewed energy for travel, and they'll do it in some innovative ways.
AARP has approximately 38 million members. The organization polls its members on many matters - including Social Security and Medicare.
However, in poll after poll, said Clay Buckley, lifestyle vice president for AARP Services: "Travel is consistently the No. 1 interest."
In do-again travel, boomers will return to places they traveled when younger. Or they'll travel to places they missed out on in childhood.
Some Spokane and Idaho camps offer weekends for adults hoping to recapture camp life, except wine and beer are often wink-winked into the weekends. For instance, Camp Sweyo-lakan - on Coeur d'Alene Lake in Idaho - will offer its annual women's retreat in early September. It is so popular it fills up by July.
Disneyland opened July 17, 1955, in Southern California, and boomers and their families began to make pilgrimages there.
Disney, no stranger to nostalgia, has been adding boomer-attractive features to its theme parks over the past decade to lure boomers back to reminisce about their Disney childhood and engage in adult stuff, too, such as golf, fine-dining and Cirque du Soleil "La Nouba."
Like Spiegel, some boomers will return to cities where they studied, but they'll spring for luxuries.
In her Florence junior year, Spiegel lived in a "pensione" with other GU students. Hot showers were a rare indulgence. When she returned to Florence in 2005, she rented an apartment with a big kitchen and a courtyard, just a few blocks from the Arno River.
"It was just a charming place to live," Spiegel said. "It was a half hour walk for me to go to school each day, and I loved walking through Florence as things were waking up."
Spiegel scored a time-share condo in Park City, Utah, in January 2012 during the Sundance Film Festival. She wanted to see movies, but ticket prices were outrageous.
So she applied to be a volunteer. She worked 40-plus hours a week in a ballroom turned theater, taking tickets and answering questions. Her official title: crowd liaison.
She volunteered again this January.
"When I wasn't working, I'd watch films," she said. "I had free admission because I was a fulltime volunteer. This year, I saw 27 films."
Spiegel had learned "volun-travel" in 2010 at the Olympics in Vancouver.
She applied three years in advance, stayed with family members, and though she requested a job where she wouldn't get cold, she was assigned the task of loading people in and out of shuttle buses.
"I thought, well, I'll just buy extra long underwear," she said. When her husband, then a corporate executive with an office supply chain, was sent to oversee a project in China in 2010, Spiegel joined him. In Nov-ember 2010, she and her sister volunteered together at a panda reserve.
Spiegel remembered: "It was cold, damp, and we ate rice three times a day for two weeks, but how often do you get the chance to do that?" Many boomers got the "wasting away again in Margaritaville" vacations out of their systems in their younger years.
They want to infuse travel now with meaning by volunteering, or they choose vacations that include some education.
Jim Owens, regional manager for travel services for AAA Washington, said: "You can do piano lessons on cruises now. If you're going over to Italy, you can do Italian cooking. Longer stays are coming into play with boomers, too. They want to get more immersed in the local culture."
Not every aging boomer can afford a European river cruise or return to the city where they spent their junior year abroad. Many never had a junior year abroad.
Senior centers offer European trips, too, but they mostly offer affordable and interesting shorter-stay trips.
Spokane, Wash.'s Corbin Senior Center, for example, is offering summer excursions to the Chewelah Casino, the Canadian Rockies and a cruise on Lake Chelan in central Washington.
Boomers haven't tapped into senior center tours in big numbers yet, said Corbin's director Christa Richardson, but she expects they will within the next decade.
"Especially as they lose their spouses," Richardson said. "Some people call up and say 'I lost my spouse, what can I do?' Maybe they always wanted to travel with their spouse and now the spouse isn't there, so they find somebody here."
Corbin Senior Center's "homegrown tours" allow boomers and seniors - some who traveled throughout the world in their younger years - to focus on their community.
"I (do) a tour called 'Northwest Treasures.' We go to three or four places and have lunch to show people what is available in the community," Richardson said.
B oomer grandparents complain among their peers about all the "stuff" their grandchildren possess, even if the grandparents are responsible for much of the bounty.
Experiences, however, don't pile up in a toy box. They pile up in the memory.
Boomers reminisce about childhood trips they took in old station wagons - no seatbelts, no air-conditioning - and the funky resorts they stayed in filled with weird bugs and strange humans. Great memories.
The travel industry is banking on boomers creating a legacy of memories for their grandchildren - from European river cruises to day trips to Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho.
Spiegel doesn't yet have grandkids, but she and her husband feel confident they've passed on the uber-travel instinct to their kids.
"We took our kids a lot of places," Spiegel said. "We had a time share, and my kids asked why are we always going these places in the off-season? I said that's when we can get it."
[Time Colonist] / Boomers are travelling more than ever and Victoria remains a popular destination.;
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