JU Communication Chair Dennis Stouse

Does this sound familiar to you?

At a bookstore, you gravitate to the travel section and peruse the guidebooks. Maps fascinate you and you plot imaginary trips to exotic locales. The Travel Channel is one of your must-see television channels.

Or, perhaps you are just interested in learning more about what travel opportunities exist for those of us who are a bit seasoned in our years and beyond the days of backpacking across Europe and couch surfing.

If you fit this description, then you are a travel aficionado, and this column is for you. Why?

I share your interest in travel, and I will show you ways to indulge in your fascination without breaking the bank. Over the years I have learned how to go where I want to go and see what I want to see, all on a budget.

Why should I be your guide? First of all, I am 65 and travel frequently to destinations within the United States and around the globe. I have learned the ropes of travel and would like to share what I have learned.

I have been afflicted with wanderlust since I was a boy growing up in Kansas City, Mo., in the 1950s and ’60s. I would help my father plan our family vacations. Los Angeles was a favorite driving destination because his parents and siblings lived in the Southern California mecca.

JU Prof. Dennis Stouse at the Istanbul spice market.
JU Prof. Dennis Stouse at the Istanbul spice market.

We would spend hours poring over maps and charting routes west. Each summer we would select a different route. Would it be a northerly one … roughly following the old Oregon Trail and then dropping down to the Great Salt Lake and continuing through Nevada to L.A.? Or would we head south through the Texas Panhandle and the deserts and Indian reservations of the Southwest? Perhaps we would we take a central route: Head west straight on U.S. 40 across the plains of Kansas through the Rockies and then over to Las Vegas south to the golden metropolis.

Those were the days of the classic U.S. transcontinental highways such as Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway. It was before interstate highways and the sameness of national chain motels and restaurants homogenized domestic travel. Cross-country journeys were adventures. We never knew what we would discover in the small towns and cities we encountered.

Dad would determine how many miles we could drive in a day in our yellow Rambler Ambassador station wagon, and together we would decide on where we wanted to stop for the night. With the help of his secretary, Dad allowed me to write to the chambers of commerce along our route to collect brochures of motels, restaurants and attractions. In most cases, I could pick the motels and the one or two attractions we would see each day of our trip.

My father loved to travel as well and did his share of it in his days before becoming a father and businessman. His roving spirit found its way to me.

As an adult, I have continued to sate my appetite for wandering. I have traveled to all 50 states and visited 37 countries on four continents. I have traveled with friends, with students, with tour groups and on my own. I have stayed in some of the best hotels in the world, but also in quite modest inns. I have a large map on the wall of my home office with red pins in the places I have visited and green pins in the locales I want to see.

This column will focus on all aspects of travel: where to go; how to get there; and what to do when you arrive. I will offer suggestions on how to get the most from your travel dollars and how to veer off the well-trod tourists paths to create your own unique travel experience.

I would also like to share the insights you have gained from your journeys with other readers. Travelers love to talk about where they have been and where they want to go next. Let’s get going.

Dennis Stouse, chair of the Department of Communication at Jacksonville University and a writer and photographer, writes an occasional travel column for The Florida Times-Union’s Prime Time section. Contact him at