With all the changes in the world these days and the discomfort they have brought to air travel, what traveler is not interested in the future of travel? A well-known expert says keep an eye out for these trends in the coming year.
With all the changes in the world these days and the discomfort they have brought to air travel, what traveler is not interested in the future of travel? Some cynics might even ask if it has a future.
Pauline Frommer knows it does. The editorial director of the Frommer Guides and publisher of Frommers.com was a keynote speaker at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show on Feb. 14. Her subject: What you need to know before you plan your next vacation. The show will itself travel across the United States for a total of 7 cities this year.
Although Ms. Frommer covered many subjects, Physician’s Money Digest was especially interested in what she saw as the Top 5 Travel Trends facing our readers this year.
1. The strength of the US Dollar
Three months ago the rate of exchange for the dollar versus the Euro was such that it took $1.45 to buy 1€. At the time of our interview the rate was $1.10 for 1€. “The dollar is strong,” said Frommer with a grimace, “Except in the USA! Although still weak in the UK or the Scandinavian countries.”
We know the dollar is weak against the Euro. That’s why we always believe we’ve been over-charged every time we go there.
This is the time to go to Rome. Or Belgium, with its 100 years of battles in World War I and its 2 centuries since Waterloo. And the Netherlands and France with their 150 years since the death of van Gogh.
2. The ubiquity and convenience of the smart phone
We all have our favorite apps; it’s a never-ending story.
We heard about digital travel too from another source, Angel Castellanos, and we wrote about it here.
The cell phone’s value lies in its booking and navigation skills—and benefits. Ms. Frommer recently tried one of her favorites, HotelTonight.com, when she was in San Francisco and got the Lafayette Hotel and Spa across the Bay in Lafayette for $99 which gave her $100 off its earlier price. The website is so successful it now claims “Hotels compete to appear on the app and only those that meet our standards…make the cut.”
3. The sharing economy
The car pick-up service Uber has given the sharing concept publicity, some controversial, but rooms that are shared instead of cars have also interested the media. Says Frommer, “The website airbnb.com has more beds than all the hotel beds in the world combined.” Furthermore, users may save considerably on websites like globalfreeloaders.com. A friend of Frommer’s, a harpist with an orchestra, believes she saved about $40,000 in one year in the United States by using a sharing website. On the best sharing websites everyone gets reviews—both hosts and guests. Uber now reviews passengers!
Ms. Frommer used a sharing website recently in Cambridge, MA. She was comfortable and it cost her only $35 for the night. It was the home business of an acupuncturist and “she put me up for the night on her table!”
[Editor’s note: TIME columnist Joel Stein covered the sharing economy scene in TIME’S Feb. 9 cover story. A summary is online here but if you want to read it fully at Time’s online version here you may have to sign in first.]
Use your favorite search engine to explore those options. We have never tried them YET.
A benefit of using the sharing networks is that you meet real people when you travel. Yet one of the issues consumers need to remember is that the information is being directed to you
by tourist destinations and may be flawed. The entrepreneur who started the Travel and Adventure Show 11 years ago, John Golicz, even warns his attendees at the start of the show, “Have you ever seen a bad picture of a hotel on the Internet?”
4. River cruising
Thirty five new river boats were built last year. Arthur Frommer, the patriarch of the family who started his travel publishing empire many years ago, had just returned from a European cruise. He told Pauline, his daughter, “Aged 85, he was the youngest on his cruise!”
Top image: with Victoria Cruises on the Yangtze
Next, on the Columbia with Cruise West, some of its ships now with Un-Cruise Adventures
Middle, on the Volga in Russia with Viking
Bottom image, On the Danube in Budapest with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, our favorite river boat company
Our perspective is that European rivers are starting to fill up. We feel a European river cruise has to be the very best of all cruise experiences but, if you want that, you should go fairly soon. Five years from now if you’ve missed the boat literally you might want to look at canal barging.
5. Shorter vacations
Americans (but certainly not the French) are scared to take long vacations in case they lose their jobs. The market reflects that: Cruise lines are offering “Cruises to Nowhere” and special long weekend deals.
Boy, don’t the French have great vacation entitlements but is that enough to make you move there?
We’ve heard from others in our travels. Said one, “In a foreign county try and visit a children’s school or take in a church service. You will learns so much more of the people and the country.” And now here is Pauline Frommer saying, “If you pass a cheese festival, stop, eat cheese and meet real people.”
You meet a lot of real people at those Travel and Adventure Shows: In San Diego there were 1,200 experts staffing 200 booths. We should perhaps tell our readers about the experience in another story.
Photography by the authors
The Andersons, who live in San Diego, are the resident travel & cruise columnists for Physician's Money Digest. Nancy is a former nursing educator, Eric a retired MD. The one-time president of the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians, Eric is the only physician in the Society of American Travel Writers. He has also written 5 books, the last called The Man Who Cried Orange: Stories from a Doctor's Life.