Say farewell to the “Staycation” – for many travelers, budget-friendly tours of one’s own city have become a thing of the past. Not only has travel increased overall, but consumers are actually investing in luxury travel again, thanks to income levels returning to pre-recession levels.
Just how much is luxury travel increasing? According to an article in The (London) Guardian), the sales of luxury experiences grew 50% faster than the demand for physical goods. This change can be partially attributed to demographics – namely, the fact that the consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s are now beginning to retire. Instead of acquiring material goods, affluent Baby Boomers are more interested in investing in life experiences.Demographics aside, many travel experts have noticed an overall increase in consumer confidence, meaning that travelers feel comfortable investing in high ticket, once-in-a-lifetime trips. In a recent Travel Weekly article, Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck, a luxury travel operator in Connecticut, said “In the post-meltdown era, there’s been a resetting of priorities.”
In other words, consumers, particularly the affluent, are focusing more than ever before on making memories and spending time with friends and family.
According to the Travel Weekly article, this year’s luxury travel hotspots are all over the map, including exotic eastern locales such as Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Once overlooked Eastern European hidden gems such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also becoming quite popular, as are exotic once-in-a-lifetime experiential trips such as safari trips to Botswana.
Another surprising trend is a large increase in consumers booking trips on luxury cruise lines. When it comes to visiting exotic locales via the high seas, travelers are willing to overlook the cruise industry’s recent woes. In fact, many travelers are booking cruises that run upwards of one month. Such cruises visit multiple exotic destinations on all seven continents, making them an appealing option for those that want to get a bit of variety during their trip.
- Affluent Travelers on Deck to Spend More Vacationing in 2013, According to a New Survey of High-End Travelers by Unity Marketing (prweb.com)
- Luxe Travel Trail Blazes with the Rise of the Virtual Agency (prweb.com)
- A Patagonia Spectacular With Tauck (timespentatsea.blogspot.com)
- Luxury Cruise Vacations on The Crystal Symphony Cruise (expertscolumn.com)
If you’re like many business travelers in recent years, you may have found yourself visiting the same city for a conference every year without spending any time outside of the conference circuit. However, the blurring of lines between business and leisure travel is becoming more common, as business travelers are finding ways to optimize their travel time and experiences.
With the arrival of online travel companies more than a decade ago, and mobile technology enabling even wider access to great travel deals, it is becoming more common for business travelers to take an extra day on one end or the other of a business trip to see some tourist attractions, try a few local restaurants, or visit a museum.
If you can take advantage of a day or more of leisure time while on a business trip, why not try it? For example, you could invite your spouse or significant other to join you on your trip, since you may be more likely to try a new restaurant or activity if you’re with a companion. Combining a business trip with a vacation (even a short vacation) makes sense in a lot of ways.
From a travel standpoint, it may be better for you to kill two birds with one stone. Why book multiple flights and hotels when you can cut costs and simplify your travel experience by adding on some leisure time before or after a business trip? This makes sense from a financial standpoint too — it’s less expensive to take a vacation since your company will cover at least some of the cost of the trip, even if it’s just getting you out there and back home.
And while it’s true that modern day business travelers are adding leisure time on to business trips, the reverse is also true – people are more and more frequently fitting work time into vacations. Often, travelers are deciding to schedule an afternoon of networking meetings into a vacation. That way, depending on a company’s travel and expense policy, some part of the trip can be expensed (or if self-employed, deducted on their taxes), and employees can feel like they aren’t abandoning their jobs.
Although there is a movement in favor of “unplugging” during vacations, the benefits to combining leisure and business travel can’t be ignored. After all, if you’re spending time traveling for any reason, you may as well get the most value possible out of your — and your company’s — time and money.
We’ve talked about traveling with little kids before, and Fodor’s recently came out with an article about the best gadgets for kids on the go. These are great for keeping your little ones distracted on a long flight or car trip. Here are a few of our favorites:
These kid-friendly headphones serve a dual purpose: First, they’re customizable with special markers, stickers and paper inserts. Second, when they’re done decorating, they can listen to their tunes on the headphones they created — comfortably, and at a safe volume.
Kurio Kids Tablet
It’s kid-friendly, but it’s a real Android tablet with games, e-books, Internet capability and more! You can create eight different profiles for the whole family to use this gadget, and with parental controls on app downloads and more, you can let your kids of all ages surf independently and maintain your peace of mind.
Kids Cooler Backpack
Give your children a little independence with a backpack they can carry themselves, with compartments for everything they could need during your journey. The best part: The front pocket is insulated and protects snack foods from getting crushed among the other items you’ve packed.
4moms Breeze Playard
Many pack-and-plays for babies don’t live up to their name…the packing is simple enough, but when it’s time to play, you’ve got a real challenge on your hands. The Breeze is a portable crib with a removable bassinet, changing pad and travel case — all in one easy-to-open package.
Our Two Cents
On the practical end of things, one of the best gadgets you can get for your kids doesn’t involve keeping them entertained; it’s more about keeping them comfortable.
We can think of two special tools for keeping kids comfy and feeling great during your travels, especially if they’re new to long trips.
The first is EarPlanes, which are ear plugs that control pressure in your ears during takeoff and landing. They make special sizes just for kids! The second is Austin House’s Motion-Less wristband, which helps control motion sickness during long car rides, cruises or flights.
Traveling with kids can be tricky, and it requires a lot of extra preparation, but making memories with your family when your kids are still young can be well worth it.
If you’re a frequent family traveler, what toys, games, tools and tips do you have for folks who are new to traveling with young kids? Share them in the comments.
It’s always interesting to see what people carry with them when they travel. Most of our customers are business types, and we’re always on the lookout to see whose pulling a Travelpro bag behind them. But there are so many people traveling for so many different reasons that you start to see all kinds of luggage and bags on a trip.
We were interested to hear about this infographic from HomeAway.com about what a traveler’s luggage says about them. We hope you enjoy it.
It’s the one vacation every parent feels obligated to take: the trip to Disney World. But, with the huge crowds, long lines and steamy Florida climate, will you survive it?
Absolutely! With a little research, you’ll not only survive your Orlando pilgrimage, you’ll thrive, as will your kids and their memories.
First, you’ll need to determine whether to stay on-site at one of the resort hotels, or off-site in less expensive lodging. If your budget allows, staying “in the world” offers many advantages.
You can ride the monorail to and from the park, access the park when non-lodging visitors can’t, and have any items you purchase in the park delivered directly to your room, sparing you the inconvenience of lugging them around all day.
Many first time visitors don’t realize that Disney World consists of four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) and two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). With so much to see, it’s important that you prioritize your time.
When planning your itinerary, consider the age and height requirements of the attractions your kids want to see, and make sure their favorite rides aren’t closed for maintenance. Walt Disney World’s official website — disneyworld.disney.go.com — is a excellent planning tool, as is the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and similar guidebooks.
Other proven tips for maximizing your Disney World experience, thanks to About.com include:
- Pick your park according to “Extra Magic Hour.” Each day, one of the four theme parks opens early for Disney World resort guests only. If you’re staying onsite, take advantage of the early opening . If not, avoid that park for most of the day.
- Get to the theme parks early. This advice is especially important for Disney’s water parks, which can be packed by noon at peak times of year, and for the Animal Kingdom theme park, which closes early.
- Take a break in the afternoon. Go to the park of your choice early in the morning; return to your hotel during the heat of the day; then return to the park in the evening. Three of the theme parks have special night-time events.
- Use Fastpasses where they’re available. A “Fastpass” is a time-specific pass to certain rides and shows. They’re free and save you from standing in line for the most popular rides.
- Use Advanced Reservations for restaurant meals.
- Use the Disney Transportation System. Every hour air-conditioned buses carry people from one park to another, and to and from the Disney resorts at no charge. Also free, the monorail and boat shuttles are excellent ways to get around.
Finally, consider the hopper passes, the passes that let you “hop” from one park to the other during the same day. Visit the Magic Kingdom during the day and then head over to Epcot’s World Showcase for dinner. We know a few families who do this on a daily basis, enjoying dinner in Italy, Germany, Japan, and Morocco on different nights of the week.
Don’t dread your Disney duty. Plan properly, and enjoy the magic.
- A Whirlwind Tour of Walt Disney World (gadling.com)
- Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas. (thejetsetfamily.com)
- Traveling with kids: Disney World Magic Kingdom, Orlando (mfinocchiaro.wordpress.com)
One of the great joys of being a grandparent is watching your grandchildren experience new things. And, there’s no better way to share in these experiences than by taking trips together.
Traveling to exciting new places with your grandkids enables you to broaden their horizons, enhance their education and deepen your bond with them. Plus, your adult son or daughter will appreciate both your relationship building efforts and the “time off” from parenting.
But, remember that these trips aren’t for the faint of heart. You’re not only assuming responsibility for the children’s well being during your travels, but you’ll need to match their energy levels as well.
To minimize stress, it’s important to think through beforehand what everyone in your party will need during the flight. By anticipating the challenges of navigating your grandkids through a busy airport terminal and frantic security checkpoint and onto a crowded plane, you can plan and pack accordingly.
Here are some tips that every inter-generational traveler should consider:
Create A Handy “Trip Case”: While shepherding young children through the airport, you shouldn’t have to hunt through multiple bags to locate airline confirmations, boarding passes or rental car reservations. Simply tuck a “trip case” containing all travel documents into your Travelpro Rollaboard’s ticket pocket, and relax. Everything you need in now in one place for quick and easy access.
Be Prepared: You’re the children’s guardian during the trip, so make sure you have their proper identification, health insurance, contact information and notarized authorization from their parents in case they need medical attention. Plus, it’s your job to know all their medications and dietary needs.
Let Your Grandkids Carry-On: Have your grandchildren pack a backpack that they’re responsible for. By involving them in the planning process, they’ll be less intimidated (and more agreeable) at the airport. You should limit the number and size of items they take, and encourage them to make a list of their belongings which they’ll keep in their backpack.
Pack A Surprise Bag: Bring along a “surprise bag” containing books, games, dolls and other visually stimulating toys that you can pull out when they get restless. Engaging your grandkids will not only make the trip more pleasant for you, but for surrounding passengers, as well
Load Up On “Apps”: Instead of weighing down your Travelpro® Rollaboard® with a bunch of books, why not load some stories and games onto your iPhone or iPad? There’s a wide array of whimsical and delightfully illustrated online books available for kids.
Finally, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you have many grandchildren, consider traveling with no more than two at a time. You’ll not only be able to provide each the attention they deserve, but you have a ready-made excuse for future trips with the ones left behind.
At long last, there are some sensible new rules to reduce air travel hassles.
According to an article in the May 1 edition of The Baltimore Sun, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a new series of passengers rights designed to correct a range of issues that have outraged air travelers in recent months.
Addressing such irritations as involuntary “bumping” on overbooked flights, excessive flight delays, lost bag fees, and deceptively advertised discounted fares, these rules are scheduled to go into effect on August 23, 2011.
According to Ambrose, if you’re bumped from an oversold flight, you’ll soon be compensated more generously. Currently, you can receive the price of your ticket, up to $400, if the airline gets you to your domestic destination within two hours of your original arrival time (four hours on international flights). For longer delays, you can receive twice the ticket price, not to exceed $800.
The new DOT rules raise these limits. For short delays, you’ll get double the price of your ticket, but no more than $650. For long delays, you will be entitled to four times the value of your ticket, not to exceed $1,300. These limits are to be adjusted every two years for inflation.
Regarding extended flight delays (a recent blizzard at New York’s JFK airport stranded a group of passengers on the tarmac for 11 hours), carriers won’t be able to keep passengers on the tarmac for more than four hours. And airlines must make sure passengers have food, water, working bathrooms and medical treatment, if necessary, after two hours.
Plus, when an aircraft is delayed on the tarmac, airlines will have to give passengers a status report every half-hour. And carriers will have to notify the public within a half-hour of learning about a change that will delay a flight by 30 minutes or more.
In addition, the new rules will require that airlines not only reimburse passengers for lost luggage, but refund the baggage fees they assessed to transport those bags. And, to address the problem of undisclosed airline fees, carriers must now include all mandatory fees, including taxes, in their advertised fares and on their website.
Once you combine these updated DOT rules with the convenience of flying with Travelpro® Rollaboard® luggage, the skies are suddenly much friendlier.
What travel items should you take when traveling with children? Beyond your Travelpro rollaboard carry-on packed with travel documents, toys, snacks and diapers, what items would make the trip far more enjoyable for both the kids and everyone around them?
Austin House, a division of Travelpro and leading brand of great travel accessories, offers a number of innovative, high quality items that will simplify life for anyone flying with small children. Here are a few recommendations:
Pressure-Less Earplanes: Few things bother children more when flying than inner-ear discomfort caused by air pressure changes. These specially designed ear plugs relieve air pressure during take-offs and landings. EarPlanes work naturally using the exclusive Ceramix™ filter, and are good for two flight segments.
Motion-Less: If motion bothers your child, Motion-Less wrist bands are for you. When worn correctly, these elasticized wrist bands control nausea due to motion sickness and inner ear imbalances. One size fits most wrists.
Personal Safety Alarm: For your own peace of mind, you’ll want to protect your child from strangers while traveling. This alarm is worn around the child’s neck and emits a high pitch alarm sound when string is pulled.
Super Soft Blanket: So what if most airlines don’t provide blankets any longer. Simply remove the “2 in 1″ blanket and pillow set from the pouch, inflate the pillow and use the pouch as a pillow case. You and your child will arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to go.
Hide-A-Cup: Nothing soothes an irritable child like a drink. This collapsible high quality plastic cup with a pill container in the lid holds 4 ounces and fits easily into a pocket, purse or briefcase.
Adjustable Luggage Straps: If you’re checking bags for either you or your child, you need these handy luggage straps. They prevent accidental openings, protect zipper pulls and help you identify your luggage on the crowded conveyor belt. These rugged polypropylene straps contain an ID window and feature a high impact side-release buckle.
These are just a few of our travel tips. There are many other must have Austin House products that travelers of any age should consider. Check out the Austin House website for more information.
Child travel is challenging for both passengers flying with kids, and those flying near kids. Preparation, patience and proper travel etiquette go a long way in ensuring the flight is as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.
For those passengers traveling with children, it’s important to think through what everyone in your group will need during the flight. By anticipating the challenges of navigating them through a busy terminal and frantic security checkpoint and onto a crowded plane, you can plan and pack accordingly.
Here are some travel tips everyone flying with kids should consider:
Prepare A Trip Case: While shepherding young children through the airport, you shouldn’t have to hunt through multiple bags to locate airline confirmations, boarding passes or rental car reservations. Simply insert a trip case containing all travel documents into your Travelpro rollaboard’s ticket pocket, and relax. Everything you need is now in one place for quick and easy access.
Anticipate The Needs Of Infants & Toddlers: When traveling with kids two years old and under, you must always be prepared for emergencies. You should not only pack diapers, clean clothing and medicine in your Travelpro luggage, but place them in the outer pockets so they’re readily accessible. Whenever possible, be sure to change diapers in the bathroom instead of at your seat.
Encourage Your Kids To Carry-On: Have your children pack a backpack that they’re responsible for. By involving them in the planning process, they’ll be less intimidated at the airport. (Plus, you relieve yourself of the burden of crammed-full carry-ons.) You should limit the number and size of items they take, and encourage them to make a list of their belongings which they’ll keep in their backpack.
Board First And Deplane Last: By boarding the plane before other passengers, you buy extra time to get the children settled in their seats. By waiting to deplane until after your fellow passengers, you won’t stress over everyone’s mad rush to leave. Obviously, you’ll need to arrive at the airport earlier, and allow extra time between connecting flights.
Pack A Surprise Bag: Bring along a surprise bag containing books, games, dolls and other visually stimulating toys that you can pull out when your children get restless. And don’t forget technology when finding ways to keep your kids entertained in flight. Be sure to load up on appropriate iPhone® or iPad® “apps”.
To those passengers who find themselves seated next to small children in flight, please be patient with any resulting inconvenience. In most cases, the parent is doing all he or she can do to keep the child occupied. And, if they’re not, an angry confrontation will only make matters worse.
Just remember that children are children, and they’ll do what children do. By practicing a little etiquette and understanding for everyone, your flight will be much more enjoyable and less stressful.
With the seemingly endless amount of travel resources now available online, does it still make sense to book your trip with a travel agent? It often depends on the complexity of your trip.
If it’s just you and your spouse traveling to a familiar destination, the arrangements should be pretty straightforward and easily handled online. But, if your journey is to an unknown location, and involves coordinating the arrivals and departures of multiple people and the arranging of various outings and excursions, a full-service travel agent can be a Godsend.
In his article, “Why Use A Travel Agent,” Joseph A. Watters, President of Crystal Cruises, listed the important services travel agents provide their clients either free or for a nominal charge:
1. Distilling the product information: No one knows more about travel and trip planning than a travel agent. They’re up on the latest news, packages, and ways to save money.
2. Investigating and supplying competitive information: Airlines don’t share competing information, like prices, about each other. Travel agents have that information at their fingertips.
3. Staying abreast of the most current and timely promotions: Since travel agents get all the information from industry-only emails, airline district managers, and other sources, they have the most up-to-date promotional information.
4. Analyzing the current promotions: Travel agents can also advise you on the best value over the best price. Remember, a cheap price is not always a bargain if you’re uncomfortable, have to pay extra costs, or get bumped.
5. Clarifying the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions: A travel agent can tell you of any of the pitfalls you might not otherwise spot on a travel booking website.
6. Making recommendations for travel-related options: Since travel agents are always up on the latest news about the travel industry, including the destinations, they can give you ideas of how to pack, what to expect, places to shop and dine, and packages to try.
7. Simplifying the research and subsequent transaction: Rather than spending hours yourself looking for individual hotels, rental cars, flights, dining reservations, ask your travel agent to help you out. They can act as a personal concierge for organizing your itinerary, saving you the time you need to handle the rest of your life. And you can be sure they’re going to act in your best interest, not the destination locations’
8. Enhancing the trip with value-added benefits and amenities: A travel agent, especially one who’s knowledgeable about your destination, can enhance the experience by putting you in touch with special packages and amenities that the average traveler isn’t going to hear about.
9. Using their clout to obtain the best possible in seemingly impossible situations: Travel agents have a little caché when it comes to their position, name, and buying power. Hotel owners, airline booking agents, and cruise organizers know that a big portion of their business comes from travel agents, and they’ll work to keep them happy — even to the point of getting perks and amenities that you couldn’t have gotten if you tried it yourself.
10. Getting problems resolved: Your travel agent will also, like a true concierge, handle any problems you have when something goes wrong. Get bumped from your flight? Call your travel agent to rebook. Need a different hotel or rental car? Rather than navigating everything yourself, place a call to your travel agent, and then wait for them to call you back with the information.
You’re going on vacation to escape planning, scheduling and hassles. Working with a travel agent helps you do just that, so let them handle your next trip for you.
Photo: MikeMcSharry (Flickr)