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How can youth and seniors connect around travel services and the possibilities that travel can bring? Youth can guide seniors traveling together on journeys to explore their past. If seniors are unable to physically travel youth can serve as research guides using the web. Youth can travel as proxies to places seniors lived or travelled to in the past, documenting what remains and what has changed returning with photos and stories to share with those unable to make this trip themselves. Youth can work together with seniors as they research and plan trips that they plan to take. Youth and seniors can explore together in the present. Seniors can enhance the life experiences of youth as they plan to travel for education/exploration.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

My idea is a service, that tackles the problem of an aging population which can benefit from connection to youth and their skill, set in the form of a travel program which brings seniors together with youth guides, enabling them to capture past stories and also to explore and create new ones.

Updated 7/31/14

How can youth and seniors connect around travel services and the possibilities that travel can bring? 

One way to connect is for seniors to seek out youth who plan to travel to areas where seniors have a historical connection, in an effort to have them retrace their steps, locate records, homes, maybe even family and friends that remain.   If a senior cannot re-visit places that are significant to him can a youth serve as their guide, bringing back photos and stories he himself becomes a new connection to a senior's past?   This approach can bring a new meaning to Junior Year Abroad.  By partnering with a senior who is from the place one intends to travel,  he/she will have the opportunity to walk in someone else's footsteps, learn their stories, be a bridge to the past in the present.
Example - A friend volunteered during Hurricane Sandy in NYC.  During this experience she met and befriended an elderly woman who was evacuated from her senior residence to The Brooklyn Armory with hundreds of other seniors.  The woman's name is Miriam.
She wrote a  letter, published in the NY Times, which thanks the volunteers for their service and it describes her history weathering another storm as she emigrated from Poland to America in 1935.  My friend remains in touch with Miriam visiting together at her senior home.  Last summer she travelled to Poland.  While on this trip she journeyed back to Miriam's childhood home town searching for traces of her past and documenting it with pictures and reflections that she brought back for Miriam in NYC.
The experience was meaningful for both, deepening their friendship.  It also inspired the community around them, as we received emails from
Poland with reflections along the way.

A senior wants to explore current life and circumstances as they relate to significant past life events.  How can I use technology to show me what present day life is like in places that I left as a child?  What exists where I lived, went to school, went on my honeymoon?  For seniors who do not have the ability to travel back by themselves technology can be a powerful tool to answer some of these questions. Youth can be their guides.  If one cannot visit in person visiting virtually is an opportunity that seniors never even dreamed was possible.
 A senior wants to travel back to his roots but cannot make the trip alone.  Can he join a group that includes youth who can assist with documentation, using technology, capturing stories?
Archiving  photos, films, papers from past lives and travels using modern technology with a youth guide either after a shared trip, or simply as an activity itself.
Active TravelSharing an active vacation, creating bonds, building connections to others with shared interests.
Shared Explorations with youth guides individually or in groups, on day trips or on longer journeys.

A travel service which promotes engagement between youth and adults age 50 and over, where youth mentors, 18 - 25 y/o, guide older adults.  TravelGUIDE captures past stories but also has the potential to generate new ones in the mentoring relationships and journeys.  It supplies a structure to capture the past and build in the present.  
Youth mentors assist older adults as they together document trips using apps such as Trip Journal, email, video, audio, journal writing, letter writing, postcards and map making.  Stories from the past and stories generated in the present can all be captured and documented together, or if need be via the youth mentor.

What will motivate youth to participate?
Sense of purpose - contributing to society, and documenting history
Financial rewards
Increased self esteem - their skills are valued
Connection to history - local and global
Opportunity to meet new people who share common interests 
Competition/Gamification-  in the case of Travel Rabbit below
Creativity - producing something - maps, photos, videos, books.  These products can be shared with friends.  
Process of self discovery as they travel and negotiate places and spaces with folk of any age.
(Kate provided insights on what might motivate youth to participate)
What Motivates +50s to Participate?
Interest in revisiting their past
Interest in continuing a story
Sharing stories with future generations
Documenting and archiving stories – Contributing to history
Curiosity – What became of?
Learning new skills
Being motivated by the energy of young people
Sharing activities with those with similar interests of any age
Desire to leave something behind for family
User Research with a Group of Seniors
A conversation with a group of women 80+ years revealed that they would not choose to travel with a 20+ year old alone.
"I might be uncomfortable."
"They might not be compassionate to someone my age with my limitations.  They don't have patience."

I learned from Marcia, 87 y/o, that she had just returned from a two week retreat in the countryside with other seniors.  "I had never been to camp before."  She had a blast.  The oldest person there was 97 and he travelled alone.  Days were full with activities.  Yoga, movement, lectures, crafts, films, dancing.  The general staff were all young.  I inquired as to whether there were any tech workshops.   "No.  We had enough techies all around.  They resolved any problem in a minute.  I had a problem with my Nook.  Keenan explained that I just didn't hold my finger on it long enough!" 
Marcia travelled alone, not out of need, she has community at home.
She wanted to try it.  She met many new friends.  She told me that there were youth working there, but they did not lead most of the activities. Movement class was taught by a 24 y/o woman, Laura, who was terrific!  She loved being around all the young staff.  She instructed me to write this down on my pad, "I invited three of the staff to stay with me whenever they are in Manhattan."  She then listed and spelled their names!  
A service for older seniors to travel to one place and stay has much potential as an opportunity for up mentoring.  Youth can staff the program/retreat/trip mentoring during the entire experience as they work as hosts, guides on the ground, in workshops and as facilitators of learning experiences in an organic way.  This can also be a rewarding experience for the youth who work there.  
( The "camp" Marcia attended.)
Accessing TravelGUIDE
Where do youth and +50s get their travel information?
50+ adults use the internet and printed material to access travel information.  They use websites such as Frommers,  Fodors  and TripAdvisor to research trips. They book flights using travel sites.  Some +50s do not use the internet for travel information.  They utilize the library, bookstores, travel articles in newspapers and magazines, word of mouth, and recommendations from organizations in which they have a membership.  Some utilize travel services and agencies that provide an interactive person to person service, either online or offline.  AAA is one service that is widely used.
Older seniors that I met with reported that they rarely book travel online.  One senior told me she uses the Road Scholar Website to find ideas but calls them to get catalogues for anything she is interested in.  A senior friend stated,  "I haven't really caught on to the computer.  I am booking a family trip now and I prefer to use a knowledgeable professional."  Other seniors remarked that they prefer personal service and are willing to pay extra for it.  This age group,  75+, are in general uncomfortable with navigating online travel sites.  A review of some websites, looking from the perspective of someone in their position,  revealed a difficult experience to navigate.  There are layers of information.  Popup ads are confusing and annoying.  Small print is difficult to read.  There is scrolling to do and multiple pages to open.  It is not an intuitive experience.  Reviews from folk with similar needs can be helpful but there is often no senior category, as there might be one for families.  Simplified site design, building details onto basic categories, and creating a step by step outline can help.  Access to TravelGUIDE for this group will primarily be from travel companies that seniors already use and trust, word of mouth, and reputable organizations that seniors participate in.  Print advertising in publications and newsletters can also be used to target this group. 
Youth will access TravelGUIDE via partner travel sites and sponsors, word of mouth, and college travel services.
TravelGUIDE will offer person to person service for all customers. This can be for curation of a trip and for advice on selecting from different options.  The service would be coordinated with travel partners.

Active Travel
A senior wants to do an active trip which may include walking, hiking or biking.  She needs a partner or would like to join a group with youth/seniors.  Partnering with active travel companies such as Backroads, or with youth oriented companies such as The TripTribe are possibilities.  RoadScholar, formerly Elder Hostel, also offers active travel.  Seniors that use this service can find a new option here.

Example of intergenerational sport -  This  Blog is the journal of a young adult bicyclist. He met several senior bicyclists on his trip from London to Auschwitz. They all belong to the cycling community. See photos above.

Built into the trip will be documentation in the form of photos, videos, audio, journal writing, postcards - to each other and home.  There is time set aside daily for mentoring while creating an archive of the trip. 

Possible Sponsors or Partners include:
Backroads Active Travel Company
Road Scholar
Trip Tribe – a travel company popular with youth which features theme based travel, curated travel, and matching of travellers based on their interests and activity preferences, age, and destination preferences.  Might be a good partner to develop a youth/senior travel option.
Companies that sell travel gear. In exchange for sponsorship youth/senior travellers wear their hat/use their water bottle for example.  A sponsor event with giveaways can attract youth as a way to advertise this travel program.
Endorsement by an athlete can increase visibility and encourage youth participation particularly if it is activity specific.  Can the Magic Johnson Foundation be a go to for a connection here?   (Discussion with Kate built out this idea)
Youth/Senior Exploration Travel
Match seniors with students who have shared interests with one goal being building relationships during a shared travel experience.  Seniors plan travel based on cultural interests such as art, photography,  photojournalism, architecture, culinary arts and history.  Can youth guides support their interests in ways that can increase enjoyment and as well as their skillset and capabilities?  What skills can youth bring to enhance these explorations? 
This can include service trips or a service component. (Jennifer)
Possible Partners: 
Road Scholar/Elder Hostel - They currently offer trips for seniors and their grandkids age 10 -12.  Negotiate adding trips for seniors and their teen and young adult grandkids. 
Trip Tribe
Organizations that do service trips.  Multigenerational family service trips would be a great option.

Match Seniors With Youth Who Guide Them As They Explore Their Past - On Day Trips Locally In Their Communities.  
Exploration can also be virtually on the internet - no active travel involved.

Meet Aurelia Velez. 
She has been working in La Marqueta, the market under the elevated railroad in El Barrio, East Harlem, for 74 years.  She recalls in times past that “everyone would meet here on Saturdays.  Entire families would come here to shop for food, clothing and shoes.  They came from Philadelphia and Connecticut.  The market extended for blocks, from E. 116 Street south to E. 111 Street  Now it is much smaller.”  Efforts are in place to revitalize this market.  
Aurelia would like to document the market that she remembers.  She can pinpoint what was sold where and by whom.  She has photos and she wants to search for more.  She has stories to share.  She is looking for an organization that can help her with this wish.  
A Family Visits The Old Neighborhood - Map with linked images.
This story is of a morning spent by a family exploring the "old neighborhood.”  It was a special occasion, a celebration of a 14 year old's graduation from junior high school.  It was an opportunity for a grandson to visit his family's local roots and to hear stories of his great-grandparents and their extended family.  While walking with his grandmother, on the street where she grew up, they met a woman who was tending to her garden.  She knew his great-grandparents and their family.  They had sold that house about 50 years ago.  The neighbor recalled that her daughter babysat one of his uncles.  She has lived there for 50+ years. This chance encounter was an amazing surprise!
Youth/senior travel can yield many new stories while finding and narrating old ones.  In this case it was with family.  It can also be with youth guides in a program such as TravelGUIDE or Hidden Memories, developed on this site by Kate Machtiger.
Joint exploration, capturing narrative and documenting it with photos, mapping, video journals, and audio recordings is part of the process.
Photos and videos, personal or those that provide historical context,  can be attached to maps.  Documents can be archived, online and offline.  Projects can be developed, and skills can be taught/learned.  
Books can be produced – "then and now", only "then" (historical documents), or only "now" – what we did together in the present – all created during the shared mentoring experience. These books can be kept for private use or published to share with a wider audience.  Publishing can become a source of income for seniors or a source of revenue for TravelGUIDE that can then be funneled into subsidized programming.  Sponsorships with online book publishing companies such as Snapfish and Shutterfly are possibilities as well.
(Book projects suggested by Charles)
In the scenario above photos were taken and projects created using iPhoto for the family to remember that day.  
Travel and Stay 
For older seniors who prefer to travel to one place we offer this service in partnership with a reputable company.  There are several options including history, culture, and trips to the countryside for rest and relaxation.  Youth will be guides/hosts.  Opportunities include movement classes,  yoga,  book/film clubs,  technology workshops,  lectures,  cooking classes etc. and  cultural excursions.  There will be an open tech room.  One can borrow a digital camera.  After photographing a youth mentor will assist in downloading photos onto the computer.  He/she will teach seniors how to use the photos to create projects.

Potential partner - Road Scholar
Youth Partner – University Students at Host Program Sites.

Travel Rabbit
Youth are tasked with searching for homes, property, documents - whatever is requested - in the USA or abroad.  Youth travelling can access requests via TravelGUIDES Travel Rabbit service.  This can be a competition/ treasure hunt.  Motivated by competition and a passion for adventure youth, travelling abroad or living at home, hunt down requests from seniors who cannot travel themselves.  Points are earned as one discovers and documents more places/requests.  Photos and documents are forwarded via our service to the seniors.  There is a possibility to include some sort of virtual marking of the sites - "I was here."  
(Idea built with Kate)
Scenario:  Alice and Max live in Florida.  Max's 70th Birthday is coming up.  Alice wants to surprise him with something special.  She heard about Travel Rabbit from a friend in NY who used it to get photos of her childhood home in Prague.  She contacts the service and asks them to arrange to photograph all of the homes that her husband lived in in NY and NJ.  They suggest as a first step a "guide" assists Alice in searching on the internet, exploring the local areas and seeing if they can find the homes. They do.  Next step, send out a call for a "travel rabbit."
Photos - 
Brooklyn Apt Bldg where Max was born and lived with his parents, immigrants from Hungary, until age 9.
Perth Amboy, NJ. -  He lived in this house from age 9 - 18.  Alice specifically ask that they look in a back alley for a wood fence that years back had initials carved into it.  They found it.  There were two sets of initials - from the two brothers.  There was also some sort of dots and dashes, secret code?  They photographed it all.
Next stop - a garden apartment in Fords, NJ.  This was where Alice and Max lived when they were first married.
Edison, NJ - an office building that Max owned.  At this time he had built a successful business and ran it from here.  It is connected to many memories and was important to  photograph for the project.
Linden, NJ - next family home.
East Brunswick, NJ - They raised their kids here.
Manhattan - They purchased a brownstone and renovated it.  They lived here for many years.
Farm, Upstate, NY -  A great getaway weekend place for the entire family.
Apartment, NYC - Eventually they sold the brownstone apartment and relocated here, until they moved permanently to Florida.
The photos arrived.  Alice framed them sequentially.  She kept copies as well.  Max was shocked and thrilled when he opened it!  He went on to create calendars for his grandkids with the help from the eldest teenager.
Thank you Travel Rabbit!  
(Based on a true story. The "rabbits" were "Max's" daughter and son in law.  The idea was their own.  They found the engravings by chance, on wood, in an alley behind her dad's house in Perth Amboy.  There were initials and the code which may have been inspired by or is Morse Code.  "Max" and his brother lived in this house during WWII.  They used this image to create Max's  birthday card.  He was astounded when he opened the envelope.  Great great true story!)
Possible Partnership/Sponsor for Travel Rabbit - Foursquare
This might be an interesting partner/sponsor as this app is used by explorers looking for new spots to eat and for entertainment.   Youth check in and earn badges.   It could be interesting to develop a social/service aspect here earning badges as one completes tasks.  Foursquare has a new aspect, Swarm, which allows friends to know where friends are, not only in one site but close by in the neighborhood.  This can add an element of increased competition if a group goes out to do a search  - "a race to find the document,  home, tree with carving” - that the user of Travel Rabbit has requested. 


Several sponsorship possibilities are mentioned in the text above in relation to specific aspects of TravelGUIDE.
General  sponsorship/partnership possibilities for all aspects of TravelGUIDE are the following:

ANCESTRY.COM is a web based platform that provides structure for individuals to research their family roots.  It provides a framework to do so.  This includes first steps, tips, resources for research, and a mechanism to hire collaborators, professional genealogists.  Information is provided on the site with text and with video webinars.  There is a community section where users of the site share resources and tips. provides information and tutorials for projects such as book making,  where one can document their search and their family history.  They also provide a direct link to a web based book publisher. focuses on finding family history, locating people.  TravelGUIDE will be a resource to search and capture past stories and their associated places and shared experiences.  It will also be a resource to create new stories with new travel companions. may be a good partner/sponsor for TravelGUIDE as TG is a new program with a related but different focus.  Blogging on’s blog might be a good place to gather interest and develop a customer base for TravelGUIDE.  Another possibility is that TravelGUIDE can participate in’s affiliate program.  One compliments the other.  Affiliates are advertised on and linked to their site.  The affiliate program is a business arrangement and a source of possible revenue to build TravelGUIDE.

Travelocity is a possible sponsor/partner.   A review of their website reveals several possibilities for connection.  On the home page there is a “Get Inspired” tab with a drop down menu listing theme based travel including arts, history, sports, family etc.  This might be a good place to link youth 18+/adult 50+  travel as a theme that can then subdivide into several options.

Travelocity has an advertising campaign -  “Go and Smell the Roses"  
They inspire travelers to discover new places using their services.   This is a possible connection point for youth to Youth/Senior travel – a place for youth to learn about TravelGUIDE.  
     “Explore new places as a guide, virtual, or side by side – learn about another’s history, learn history through another’s story – facilitate capturing that story while creating a new one together."

Travelocity ran a campaign this year using Instagram - #iwannago.
They asked folk to post something visual,  picture or video, advertising where they wanted to go and why.  The Travelocity team chose the winner based on originality and quality of the posting.   33% of millennials wanted to go to Europe.   Europe might be a destination where seniors are searching for their past story and millennials might just be interested to guide them on these journeys.
How about:
#iwannago and find....... for you
#iwannago with you to capture....  
#iwannago explore with you....
#iwannago to learn from/with you.....
#iwannago hike with you.....
uP Mentoring Travelocity campaign?




Kate and I met twice in NYC to discuss our ideas for our own projects, and each other's as well.  There are many overlaps between them.  Her idea seemed to move towards the future, preserving what is being lost, for her generation and older folk as well.  My project seemed to look back capturing stories before they are gone.  Interesting points of view and perspectives from two folk in different generations themselves.  Our conversations took us back and forth.  Her perspective informed mine in several places.  Her project includes a tool which can be used in mine, mapping of place, space and experience.  I experimented with it in here, in TravelGUIDE. 
Thank you Kate for great conversations and ideas.  I am excited to see "Hidden Memories" develop!



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Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Updated/edited post.
Had time to review and as possible sponsors/partners for this project. Updated the post with findings/insights from this review as well as updating with some input from comments.

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