Happy April, everyone! It’s Spring and we survived another winter.
Tuscany is known world-wide for its culture, Renaissance art, friendly people, Florentine steaks and great wines. During my upcoming Tuscan trip, I will be creating a self-drive tour itinerary for wine-loving clients.
I often think about “where to go next” when it comes to planning my personal travels. Like most people, I have nurtured a “bucket list” of destinations to visit while I still can. Recently, however, experiences during my travels have become more important to me than new destinations.
For example, in a couple weeks I will be off to Tuscany to revisit Florence, meet up with special friends in a small hill town nearby and plan a self-drive tour for clients seeking to experience Tuscany’s great wine regions. Although I have been to Italy a dozen or more times, my anticipated upcoming Tuscan experiences far outweigh any other destination on my future travels list. In short, my “bucket list” may have just become obsolete! [Watch for a forthcoming Travels with Bob blog post about my new Tuscan Wine Trail Tours.]
Europe is already beginning to sell out for summer 2023 travelers and getting there may not be easy as in years past. A recent report estimated a shortage of some two million workers in the world-wide travel industry. This shortage will be felt across most travel sectors and surely exert an impact on summer travel with flight cancellations and delays at major European airports. The trick is to plan early and anticipate delays that may require a back-up plan. Most importantly, exercise patience, allow plenty of time between connecting flights and don’t leave home without travel insurance.
Also, you can expect to hear more about over-tourism this summer, especially in certain European destinations currently experiencing far too many visitors who add little to the economy while negatively impacting quality of life for local residents. Venice is a good example of such over-tourism, particularly day-trippers who are now being charged a daily fee just to visit the city. In addition, many European cities have imposed a hotel tax designed to protect and preserve local antiquities and otherwise offset a portion of the costs related to welcoming too many tourists.
My advice: Visit the most popular destinations in the off-season or consider peak-season destinations that are not as crowded as major cities. Instead, visit Lyon rather than Paris; Wales rather than Ireland; Lisbon rather than Barcelona; or Umbria rather than Tuscany, to name a few examples.
RECORD CRUISE WAVE SEASON
Cruise lines kick-off each year with special promotions through March offering discounts and other amenities designed to generate sales for the year ahead. According to most major cruise lines, the 2023 wave season generated record sales for the three-month period with cruise guests opting for longer itineraries and stepping up to more spacious accommodations onboard.
Meanwhile, a growing majority of cruisers are looking for all-inclusive price packages eliminating the “nickel and diming” of guests onboard. Such pricing also allows cruise lines to compete more favorably with all-inclusive land resorts, especially those in the Caribbean. Cruise guests may opt out of all-inclusive pricing by selecting non-refundable deposits and no added amenities.
I expect promotional cruise pricing to continue into the fall, especially for Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries, as well as trans-Atlantic repositioning sailings. Meanwhile, the five-month 2023 Alaska cruise season is expected to set a record for cruise ship visitors this year with at least 14 ships offering various Alaskan cruise and cruise tour itineraries.
A full day-trip from Buenos Aires to Iguassu Falls is an unforgettable travel experience on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Buenos Aires is all about the tango, gauchos, great soccer and a rich cultural heritage. It’s also my favorite South American city.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME BUSY
The past three months have been the busiest quarter since I started my travel practice in 2007. My existing and new clients increasingly desire custom itineraries created just for them – whether it’s a pre- and/or a post-cruise land extension, or a custom multi-country land tour. The other recent trend for cruises or land-based vacations is the booking window is getting much longer. Following a few years of reservations made closer to the departure date, today’s travelers are making travel plans 18 to 24 months in advance to take advantage of better pricing and the best availability.
On a personal note, I am delighted to report that for the third consecutive year I was recently named to Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s list of Top Travel Specialists, representing fewer than one percent of U.S. travel advisors. Your ongoing loyalty and support makes such recognition possible, and I am indeed grateful. My current clients and your referrals of friends and family members now account for about 95 percent of my business. Thank you…thank you…thank you!
Looking at travel opportunities for the balance of this year, I would recommend Christmas market river cruises in Europe and late fall travel to South America, especially Argentina – one of my favorite destinations.
Please call me if you have any questions regarding leisure travel opportunities or if you simply would like to discuss travel in general.
Yours in Travel,