My wife Linda and I learned a lot during our seven years of writing the Travelin’ Maine(rs) weekly travel column in this newspaper. Today I’m going to share some of that with you.

If you own a restaurant, inn or sporting camp, that is a consuming life. You certainly don’t get any time off. We met many amazing, hardworking people, all of whom seemed to really enjoy serving their customers. That is an important thing, because you’ve got to love people to be in the travel business.

Many of those people became our friends, very appreciative of our columns, and we very much enjoyed hearing from readers who visited the places we wrote about and had great experiences. We also appreciated all the recommendations from readers of good places to visit and write about.

Although I traveled all over Maine in my career, we discovered wonderful places I’d never visited, such as Deer Isle and Stonington, Swan’s Island, and even Kennebunkport and Ogunquit, where we visited outside of the busy summer months. You can enjoy those places in the spring and fall, and at lower rates too.

When we traveled outside of Maine, we also wrote about those trips, and some of our readers, after hearing about our experiences, took the same trips. In fact, I recently helped a family plan their April trip to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, one of our favorite places.

We especially enjoyed writing about our trips to Italy, where we discovered Il Santo, a small family winery in Greve that offers a large and a small apartment to travelers. We have now sent more than 50 people from Maine to stay there, and all have loved it. Some have returned for a second trip. We once had to change our dates to visit there because both apartments were booked by people we advised; the owner, Alessandro, now calls us his partners.

But of course we most enjoyed traveling throughout Maine and discovering all of our wonderful places — and yes we have many. From Calzolaio in Wilton, our favorite restaurant before we started writing travel columns, to Frank’s Dockside in Lubec, where we enjoy sitting on the deck glancing out over the ocean towards Campobello Island, it has been particularly rewarding to be able to tell you about these wonderful places.

We rarely had time to return to our very favorite places, given the need to tell you about a new place every week, but we did get back often to Calzolaio, Frank’s Dockside and Geaghan’s Pub in Bangor.

Folks in the travel business do have some challenges, especially from Airbnb. Airbnb places do not have to adhere to the requirements for hotels and inns. Our kids were planning a weekend getaway for the entire family last April, and I had selected four rooms at a nice inn on the southern Maine coast, when the kids lined up a house through Airbnb with six bedrooms and four bathrooms near Scarborough Beach for a daily price less than just one of the rooms I had selected.

Some cities and towns have limited these rentals. Rockland’s city council just voted to limit Airbnb and other short-term rentals.

Many of our seasonal tourist businesses depend on temporary workers from other countries, and the federal government made that very difficult last year, causing lots of problems in Maine, including some places that had to limit the number of rooms available because they could not find workers to care for those rooms.

Maine welcomed about 35 million visitors here last year, generating more than $6 billion in revenue. I have found those folks from away who have camps and other seasonal housing here to be particularly valuable.

We have a wonderful group of summer people in Mount Vernon and Vienna. They actively participate in our community when they are here. It’s nice to see all those out-of-state cars parked in front of our Olde Post Office Café, which is open every day in the summer thanks to our visitors.

Last year I raised money to expand our library which serves both Mount Vernon and Vienna, and 80 percent of our donations from individuals came from our summer people. They love our library and our communities.

Marketing Maine is both a challenge and an opportunity, and Maine could benefit from more and better marketing. That is something I have emphasized to gubernatorial candidates.

And now I have to wrap this up, because Linda and I are going to Calzolaio for dinner. If you want to check out our travel columns, they are still available at

Note: I did a podcast with Diane Atwood of Catching Health about my ALS illness. You can listen to it at

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at