Travel Bug: Vicki Morese shares adventures traveling the world

By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus

The travel bug bit Vicki Morese in college on her first trip abroad to Greece.

“I still love Greece. It’s a special place for me,” the 65-year-old Morese said. “Growing up, I never really traveled much outside of Lawrence County. That may be why I love it so much now.”

That love translated into Morese’s post-retirement.

After concluding a career, which included jobs with Decatur-Morgan County Tourism, Clear Channel Radio working as an event manager with Decatur-Morgan County Tourism and the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and heading the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival in Moulton, Morese, at the age of 64, became a travel advisor.

“I knew I was going to stay active after retirement. It is a way to keep my mind active,” Morese said. “Doing something with travel made sense. It is something I love to do.”

In April 2023, Morese and her husband, 69-year-old David Norwood, became travel advisors through Cruise Planners.

“We have been going non-stop,” Norwood said.

“The travel industry is booming. I think COVID made people realize what was important to them. For many people, like us, it is traveling and having new experiences,” Morese said.

For the past 20 years, travel has played a central role in the lives of Morese and Norwood. They have traveled to New York City, Bermuda, Hawaii, Istanbul, Turkey, Paris, London, Egypt, Canada, the Dominican Republic and Italy. They have climbed mountains, snorkeled, white-water rafted and walked through the pyramids.

“Visiting Cairo and the Nile was a bucket list trip for us because of the history and spirituality there. It was pretty amazing to experience,” Norwood said.

Last summer, they traveled to the Grand Canyon, which Morese described as a “must-do” trip. While Morese walked around the rim, which took four days, Norwood waited in Flagstaff.

“We play to our strengths,” Norwood said with a laugh.

Fueled by her love for nature and the outdoors, Morese took a solo trip in 2019 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

“I was 61. I don’t recommend until you wait until you are 61, but I am proof you can complete the climb at 61,” Morese said. “I took me eight days. I did a lot of praying. We left really early the last day so we could see the sunrise. I didn’t make it to the summit until after 10 a.m., but that’s OK. I made it and it was breathtaking.”

As for future trips, Morese would love to return to Africa and visit the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. At the top of Norwood’s bucket list is a trip to Hong Kong.

“I’ve never been to Asia. That is something I want to do. We also know someone who just did night snorkeling. That sounds really interesting,” Norwood said. “And I’ve been to Vienna, but if anyone ever wants me to go to Vienna with them, I’ll go in a heartbeat. I love the music there and the opera house.”

Like Morese, Norwood traveled little as a child.

“My mother was British, so I went to England three times. Besides that, we would go to Florida every year,” Norwood said.

Along with traveling and working as a travel adviser, Morese, who described herself as a “professional volunteer,” is a master gardener and pickleball player.

“When I retired, I made a list of 100 things that I wanted to do and a list of things I would miss,” Morese said. “I’ve done everyone on my list and the things I thought I would miss, I have not missed at all.”

Morese and Norwood encouraged seniors to stay active.

“Seniors are very active. There are some great adventures you can go on no matter your age,” Morese said. “After planning a trip for someone, I have said, several times, ‘The only thing wrong with this trip is I’m not going with you.’”

Traveling also increases the gratitude Morese and Norwood have for north Alabama.

“The more we travel, the more we appreciate our home,” Norwood said.

Travel Advice

Travel with a group. “It could be with another couple or 20 people. We love traveling with a group. It is great to share those experiences with other people. We have made some of our closest friends that way,” Morese said.

Work with a travel advisor. “A lot of people go online and spend a lot of time researching. It can be overwhelming in a short period of time. A travel advisor will do that research and, because they do a lot of business, can usually get better rates,” Morese said.

Know your limitations. “No matter what you are doing or where you are going, know your limitations. If you don’t typically walk five miles a day, don’t sign up for an excursion where you are walking eight miles a day,” Morese said.

Leave valuables at home … or on the boat. “Traveling abroad is not the time to wear your fine jewelry. You don’t want to take Grandma Eleanor’s diamond ring. Leave the sentimental journey at home,” Morese said. If on a cruise, leave your passport in the safe in your room when you get off at a stop. Take a copy, rather than the original, with you.

Be patient. “Travel starts the moment you leave the driveway and does not end until the moment you come back. It includes driving in traffic to the airport, waiting in line and dealing with time changes. It is important to keep a good attitude during the whole journey and not let that impact your experience too much,” Morese said.

Pack lightly: “If you can afford to pack light and do laundry on the road do it. It is so much easier and you save a lot of time not having to wait in line at the airport,” Morese said.

Invest in travel insurance: “This goes beyond just recouping the cost of your trip. Travel insurance covers medical expenses in case you get sick or injured,” Morese said.

Other tips

• Take an extra pair of glasses or a copy of the prescription.

• Separate your medication between your luggage in case a bag goes missing.

• Stay hydrated and always bring a water bottle with you.