As we chatted during our girlfriends’ dinner a few weeks ago, our talk was all about travel. My friend J was getting ready to take a winter vacation to Sarasota, Florida and planning a springtime trip to London. My friend N was debating where to take her husband for his milestone birthday. No talk of kids or health ailments, it was all about getting away and exploring the world during life after 60 (we are all now post 60).
Travel Is A Popular Pastime
A month earlier, I had been to media day at The New York Times Travel Show. The Travel Show takes place annually at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. It’s a fun event to attend. This year marked the 15th anniversary of the show, setting new records with more than 600 companies representing over 176 countries and 32,398 participants—the highest in the Show’s history. The New York Times Travel Show is the largest travel industry show in North America.
“Each year, more and more travel
Where Do You Want To Travel In 2018?
I always like to see what places The New York Times Travel recommends each year. On the list of 52 for 2018, I’ve been to New Orleans, Cincinnati, Glasgow (Scotland), Baltimore, Germany’s Western States, Seattle and Denver. That’s only 17 spots. Looks like I have much more traveling to do.
One of the places on the list that sounds appealing is Emilia-Romagna outside Bologna, where they say “food lovers are celebrating FICO Eataly World, a new 25-acre homage to Italian cuisine. There are orchards, gardens, dozens of food production workshops, a 97,000-square-foot market and some 40 restaurants and food stalls.
Ooh, ooh, ooh! Are you ready to travel to Emilia-Romagna with me? Let’s go now!
Lucky Jada Yuan — The New York Times selected her (out of 13,000 submissions) as their 2018 travel correspondent. They will be sending Jada to all 52 places in 2018. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Here’s Jada’s first feature about New Orleans.
Would you want to go to all 52 places in a year? While it does sound like an amazing opportunity, I know it would be too much travel for me.
Experts Speak About The State of The Travel Industry
To learn more about what’s trending in travel, I listened to a panel discussion with five leaders in the industry: Ninan Chacko, representing travel agents; Alejandro Zozaya, CEO, Apple Leisure Group; Andrew Stuart, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line; Guy Young, Global Brand Engagement Officer, The Travel Corporation; and the only female executive on the panel, Jennifer Tombaugh, President of Tauck. These companies have a combined revenue of $55 billion.
Wow-o-wow! For sure travel is big business and boomers are key consumers when it comes to spending their hard earned dollars and retirement savings on travel.
From leaders’ responses it appears that 2017 was a banner year for travel, except for U.S tourism, which declined — sadly due to rhetoric from our POTUS and the current administration — and Turkey tourism — due to unrest in the country. Alejandro noted that “domestic travel in the U.S. is doing well.”
Travel is also looking good for 2018. Guy said that “it looks like 2018 is going to be a fantastic year. Every single destination is up except for the U.S. in 2018.”
What Locations Are Trending In Travel?
Based on panelists’ comments, here are the most popular destinations for 2018:
♥ Spain is about to bump the U.S. off as the most visited country in the world
♥ Africa is real strong
♥ Israel travel is up (stay tuned for highlights from my trip to Israel during my Viking Ocean Cruise)
♥ Australia and New Zealand
♥ The I’s: Italy, Ireland and Iceland
♥ Alaska is strong for cruises. Norwegian is going from a mid-sized ship to a larger Norwegian Bliss ship
♥ Cuba – While there was a drop in tourism to Cuba in 2017, it’s picking back up. Norwegian has the two largest ships that can sail into Cuba. It was mentioned that if you are traveling to Cuba, you should go with a group tour for safety reasons.
The panelists agreed that demand for the Caribbean islands is mostly back after the hurricanes of 2017– that is except for Puerto Rico and some other smaller islands that were badly hit. And Mexico, which was hit due to travel warnings , is now picking up again.
Stay Safe When You Travel
When asked more about safety, Jennifer said: “Over time, the new global warning advisories will help American travelers.” Referring to incidents in London or Paris last year, she replied that “Recovery times are getting shorter – 12 months to 9 months to 3 months. There’s a new normal. Countries and travelers are resilient.”
Ninan reminded travelers to utilize travel agents when booking travel. “Travel agents will have updated knowledge on a location,” he said. “They are able to address the concerns of worried travelers.”
When it comes to feeling protected with your travels, I also recommend Allianz Travel Insurance. I can’t say enough positive things about this company for insuring your health coverage when traveling abroad. I was so glad to have their insurance when I took ill in Greece last year.
Make It Local And Personal
Demand is picking up for localization and personalization when planning a vacation.
“Small is big,” Jennifer said. “There is tremendous growth in small group travel and small ship cruising. Life is about thinking small. People want personalization and you can get that with a small group.” Ninan agreed, “People want experiences that are local. They want to experience the essence of a city when they are traveling.”
Guy echoed Jennifer’s comments. “People want in-home dining like AirBnb and immersion experiences with local guides to take them into places they would not normally see.” (Note: ToursByLocals.com was an exhibitor that aligned with this trend.)
Technology was highlighted as a way to personalize a trip — whether on a cruise ship to track a guest, virtual reality to enhance an experience, travel blogs to learn more about restaurants, museums and activities, or websites like AirBnb or Homeaway to book your lodging — all are designed to help you better customize your vacation during the planning stages and better enjoy your vacation once you get there.
Walking The Exhibition Hall
With over 600 companies represented and only an hour to spare, I had to rush through the aisles. My steps took me to:
♥ Israel, where I hope to return one day for a longer stay.
♥ Prague and Croatia, two places on my post 60 travel bucket list.
♥ Italy, my favorite country with Calabria, Sicily (including Experience Sicily group tours), Bologna (including CIBO Culinary Institute of Bologna cooking classes), Venice, and Puglia still to visit.
♥ Africa and Egypt, not currently on my post 60 bucket list but could be easily persuaded.
♥ Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Resort in Florida, sounds like fun. Do you know that you may be able to retire to Margaritaville one day soon? According to their PR team, “Margaritaville Holdings has teamed up with real estate developer Minto Communities to start building Latitude Margaritaville, the first of multiple “active adult communities” branded with the Margaritaville name.”
♥ NewFoundland, may need to see the Broadway show Come From Away about this part of Canada first.
(Note: The links above are to some of the exhibitors I visited who do tours in these countries and cities.)
Meeting With Travel Media
The day before the Travel Show I had a chance to attend a travel media conference and visit one-on-one with tourism representatives from selected destinations and cruise lines. I learned about:
♥ Florida resort towns of Key West & The Keys, Sanibel Island & Captiva Island, and Naples & Marco Island.
♥ Travel Portland and Mt. Hood, Oregon. You know how much I enjoyed my trip to Portland and The Tualatin Valley. Can’t wait to go back!
♥ New Mexico and The Outerbanks in North Carolina.
All sounded like places I might want to visit during my life after 60. Maybe the nice PR teams will invite me for a trip.
♥ Cruising is a popular way to travel for boomers as well as their millennial children. Those who cruise tend to be loyal cruisers. I noticed from the two cruise lines I met with – Seabourn and AmaWaterways – that wellness is a trend.
Seabourn, the world’s finest ultra-luxury cruise line, is sharpening its focus on mindful living with two new content rich Wellness Cruises with Dr. Andrew Weil in the year ahead. Bound for Alaska and Greece, each voyage will feature experts in the field of integrative medicine and Dr. Weil, a celebrated physician and best-selling author who partnered with Seabourn to introduce Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil, an exclusive mindful living program at sea.
AmaWaterways is expanding its Wellness Program to six ships in 2018. They are the first in the river cruising industry to offer bicycles onboard. The Wellness Program includes morning stretches, jogging, yoga, cardio/core strengthening, resistance band workouts and circuit training. Activities are complemented by discussion groups with a focus on healthy eating and relaxation techniques.
♥ Traveling by rail is another way to see the world. I met with the PR team from Rocky Mountaineer. Their journeys through Western Canada sounded amazing.
♥ Or if you want to stay in some interesting hotels, I suggest you check out Historic Hotels of America. There are some unique spots across the USA.
So, dear readers, where are you traveling during 2018? Or where do you want to travel next? Share a comment.