By Linda Ballou
NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate

Ballou Annie-MotorcycleToday I’d like you to meet Annie Coburn, a vivacious, energetic woman who can’t stop traveling. (That’s her looking cool beside her motorcycle over to the left.)

An accomplished videographer, she adds sparkle to her content in her newsletter Fab Senior Travel with videos providing insider tidbits for visitors to a specific region.

Annie is the author of detailed guidebooks for walking tours in major cities designed to take the stress out of travel.

Even though I have been to London many times and thought I knew my way around, Annie shared some wonderful tips that made me want to go back and walk in her footsteps.

LB: Was there a pivotal event in your life that brought you to creating Fab Senior Travel and your walking tour guidebooks?

I was living in a five-story walk-up in the center of Paris. The couple living one story below was fourth-generation Parisians. One afternoon, we were sitting outside a café sipping wine and commenting on the tourists. Bernard turned to me and said: “If my English were better, I would write a real guide to Paris.”

WalkParis-Cover_1Voila! I knew at that moment that my life had taken a sharp left turn. For the next seven months, Bernard showed me Paris and at night, I wrote the stories and mapped the places.

After we published our first guidebook, Walk Paris, I was hooked. After leaving Paris, I continued to write guidebooks of some of the greatest cities on earth: Walk Beijing, Walk NYC, and Walk London.

My guidebooks, The Suzy Guides, are guides to the greatest cities on earth, designed for active Baby Boomers. Each guide contains maps, step-by-step directions, history and information. Our goal is to help you transform your trip from ordinary to extraordinary! We help you navigate unique walking adventures off the beaten tourist trail. Suzy guides you through the cities with clear, easy-to-read maps and intriguing historic tales.

LB: How do you define an Active Boomer?

Just because we’re Boomers doesn’t mean we don’t have the energy and desire to pursue our passions, whether that is travel or entrepreneurship or creativity.

In our youth, Boomers saw people over the age of 60 as old. Now that we have arrived at that age, we see ourselves as just beginning to enjoy the life we have worked so hard to achieve.

LB: What sort of information should boomers expect to find in your guides?

The guidebooks are designed to take the stress out of traveling to a new destination. There are so many questions from first time travelers and, for many, lots of fears. My guidebooks attempt to answer those FAQ’s, provide step-by-step maps and information about area landmarks that we travel to see up-close.

LB: What types of trips do you review?

Annie  the Grouch_1There are so many wonderful places in the world that I try to include as many as possible on my website, Fab Senior Travel. What thrills one person might be total uninteresting to another. I see myself as a travel ambassador. My job is to bring potential travel places to my subscribers to be considered for their future travel plans.

 LB: What is your background? Education? Special training?

I spent most of my adult career as a corporate trainer. During this time, I traveled around the world again and again. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand how chronicling a place could teach you so much about the people and history. I regret not delving into the cities where my job led me. My familiarity with travel the travel process gave me confidence. Once you know the “how to” of travel, the rest is just fun.

LB: What sets your guide books apart from others with similar offerings?

The Suzy Guides have a specific target audience.

Other guidebooks, such as Lonely Planets, are general audience guidebooks – one size fits all. With my Suzy guidebooks, you don’t have to study each category (food, hotels and entertainment) to develop a plan.

The Suzy Guides do all that for you. The itinerary is laid out for you: here are the best things to see; here’s how to get there; here are the interesting facts and stories. This takes the hassle out of the journey.

LB: How many trips do you typically cover in a year?

I have two categories of trips:

  • Category 1 trips are to create the Weekend Getaways. These travel trips take time to research, film and produce. I only do about two of these/year.
  • Category 2 trips are shorter, easier to produce and have the purpose of introducing a destination. I might do as many as 10-12 Category 2 trips/year. We will be filming Galveston and Corpus Christi in two weeks.
LB: Which trip is your favorite and why?

Selecting a favorite trip or city is difficult. It’s like choosing a favorite child. I lived in NYC while I wrote the guidebook, Walk NYC. If I could live anywhere in the world, New York City would be my choice. The city has a heartbeat. After you’re there a few months, you actually begin to feel the beat. The city is like having a friend that takes every step with you. It pulses right along with you. There are no limits.

LB: What is your funniest experience as an active boomer?

My husband and I were traveling in Italy. We were lost in Florence. The weather was cold, wet and miserable. Close by, a man was sitting until an awning drinking coffee. I decided to approach him and in my best Spanish (I can’t speak Italian) ask if he could help us find our way back to the hotel. I did just that. My Spanish is terrible! He smiled and said (in perfect English): “Would it be easier for you if we speak English?” Relieved, not only did we speak English, but he invited us to join him and his friends for dinner. We did and had a wonderful time meeting new people. He actually lived in Paris. So, when I moved to Paris, I often went to see Tony and have dinner with him.

LB: What trip are you planning next?

Ballou FAB logoMy big trip project this year is to put together a series called Best Mid-Sized Cities for Retirement. Since Boomers are at retirement age, I think it is important for our later years to be spent in places that meet our needs: medical, cultural, ease of transportation, shopping, and housing affordability. I have selected five U.S. cities that meet these criteria. Stay tuned to the FAB Senior Travel website for our Best Mid-Sized Cities for Retirement series.

Sign up for Annie’s newsletter FAB Senior Travel where she shares Weekend Getaways, that include videos, maps, and information at her website, FabSeniorTravel.com

LindaBallou1-e1291171190437Linda Ballou says her mission is to experience as many beautiful places on our planet as she can, before they are no more. “Travel tales relating my experiences while kayaking, horseback riding, sailing, birding and hiking about the globe have appeared in numerous national magazines. I had a great deal of fun collecting travel stories, and profiles of people I have met in “naturally high places” for my newest book, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales. For a complete bio as well as published on-line clips with photos go to my website www.LindaBallouAuthor.com. Your reward, aside from learning about me and my work, will be to discover the secret to youth! Follow my blog or friend me on Facebook to keep up with my latest adventures.”