Legacy Travel — a Fresh Perspective, with Rick Antonson

Episode 326

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Travel writer and historian Rick Antonson has traveled on trains through twenty-eight American states, across nine Canadian provinces, and in more than thirty-five countries. He is co-author of a book of railway stories, Whistle Posts West: Railway Tales From British Columbia, Alberta, and Yukon.

He and his two sons, Brent and Sean, circumnavigated the Northern Hemisphere by train over the course of five trips, traveling through countries as varied as Belarus, Mongolia, and North Korea. Rick and his wife, Janice, became engaged on a train in Alabama en route to New Orleans. Rick is the former president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver (now Destination Vancouver). He served as chair of the board for Destinations International, based in Bangkok, Thailand. He was vice president of Rocky Mountaineer during its start-up years in the early 1990s. Train Beyond the Mountains is his fifth travel narrative.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Rick Antonson shares why he wrote his latest book, Train Beyond the Mountains, and the fresh perspective traveling with his 10-year-old grandson gave him. We also talk about intergenerational or legacy travel and why this market segment may be an overlooked opportunity for destination marketing organizations.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Rick shares more about why he wrote his latest book, Train Beyond the Mountains, and why it’s his personal favorite
  • What cathedral thinking is, and what it means in the context of the travel industry
  • What we can learn from taking a moment to travel with family and learn from its younger members
  • Why having a travel companion so different from himself brought out stories Rick never would have found alone
  • How to market opportunities for multigenerational and legacy travel

A Fresh Perspective

Rick Antonson shares the story behind his new book, Train Beyond the Mountains, which documents his two-week trip with his grandson in the Canadian Rockies. The pair traveled on the Rocky Mountaineer train, and Rick shares why being on the train with his grandson sparked a lot of reflection. He realized that traveling with a child allows you to see the world through a different lens.

The Joy of Travel

Rick talks about the importance of travel writing in motivating and inspiring people to actually go and visit destinations. He shares some experiences from his travels, including a touching moment with his grandson on a train journey and a missed opportunity to learn the story of a fellow traveler.

He reflects on the Buddhist idea that we often assume we have more time than we do, and how COVID-19 has taught us never to take travel for granted. As a destination marketer, he encourages inviting people to experience new places and meet people who are different from themselves.

Legacy Travel

On the show, Rick also talks about the market opportunity of legacy travel. As each generation ages, there is a ticking legacy clock in the back of their mind, and leaving memories behind for their family becomes important. We dive into how destinations can better identify and market to legacy travelers, accommodate their needs, and ensure that activities are enjoyable and informative for all ages.


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