You don’t have to look at the calendar to know it’s Fall: kids are back in school and there’s a televised football game every night of the week, while here in SW Florida, auto license plates have begun to change their colors signaling the return of snowbirds.
We survived a crazy summer full of challenges for travelers, especially those headed to Europe, where major cities overflowed with tourists and airline travel presented too many challenges to list here. France was the top European destination during the 2023 “high season” surpassing Italy in second place and Spain in third position.
Meanwhile, the international travel industry is still short a million or more people employed in the industry prior the pandemic and who have since moved to other vocations or simply retired. To compound the chaos for travelers, add a couple rail strikes, hundreds of airline schedule changes and cancellations, thousands of lost or delayed luggage and a shortage of guides to share their local knowledge.
Located on New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound is a beautiful place for getting away from the crowds as you enjoy the magnificent scenery and discover thousands of species found only in the region near Queenstown.
For example, one client arriving Paris in early June reported daily attendance at the Louvre at 35,000+, making it almost impossible to enjoy the museum even when accompanied by a professional guide.
If you were among the millions visiting Europe since May, you understand how such over tourism impacted visitors. Furthermore, based on current travel trends as we approach 2024, Europe may be even more crowded next summer, especially with Paris hosting the Summer Olympic games beginning in late July.
TRAVEL TIPS TO AVOID THE CROWDS
Consider the “shoulder season” for domestic and especially international travel. A growing number of people are shifting their travel plans to spring or autumn, to benefit from lower pricing and smaller crowds.
Depending upon your destination and the travel experiences you seek, consider traveling during the offseason. For example, art afficionados will appreciate the ability to walk around Paris’ 130-plus museums during January or February compared to elbowing your way through the crowds of summer.
If you must travel during the high season, discover the local culture, cuisine and experiences found in smaller cities. Consider, for example, Lyon, Avignon or Bordeaux rather than Paris. Or get off the beaten path on other continents. Morocco offers a fascinating Mediterranean experience in North Africa or consider Sicily rather than Rome as your vacation destination, especially if you have been to Rome previously.
Increasingly, many travelers are discovering other parts of the world including South America or New Zealand, for example. Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro are great destinations offering exciting cruise itineraries originating from both cities, while New Zealand encompasses diverse uncrowded travel across its two diverse islands. Keep in mind when it is winter at home, it’s summer down under.
Adventure travelers avoid tourist crowds by seeking destinations that lead them into remote corners of the globe and many take great comfort in getting completely off the grid. At the same time, a growing number of low-impact adventure travelers are discovering “exploration” cruise itineraries that transport guests to the ends of the Earth, including both polar regions.
The launch of several new ships the past two years means cruise lines must fill thousands of new beds this winter in the Caribbean, so look for special pricing and promotions this fall designed to fill those beds.
UPCOMING HOLIDAY TRAVEL
If you are planning to travel during the upcoming holiday season, do not wait any longer to purchase airline tickets. Domestic air fares on average are as much as 25 percent lower than similar itineraries a few months ago but those prices will surely disappear the closer we get to Thanksgiving.
Last-minute travelers may be able to find availability remaining on 2023 European Christmas Market river cruises, or they might opt to celebrate Christmas-New Years aboard a cruise ship like half a dozen of my clients are planning this year. Looking ahead to winter, Caribbean cruises may represent excellent travel options. I anticipate special promotions and value-added amenities for such cruises, with several cruise lines scrambling to fill ships that have added thousands of beds to cruise inventories since the pandemic ended and cruising resumed.
The holidays also represent an excellent time to plan future travel when family and friends come together. The “travel booking window” has extended from about three months immediately following the restart of leisure travel to as much as a year in advance. One-of-a-kind cruises or special land itineraries offering unique destinations usually sell out even earlier. Even if you are thinking about a small group tour customized to your family or group’s specific needs and desires, it pays to begin planning as much as nine months to a year in advance, especially if it is a complex itinerary.
As tourism grows worldwide, I hope and expect “sustainable” travel options, whereby we leave destinations better than we found them, to become an enlightened trend particularly as international travelers come to realize we are only visitors in someone else’s home when we travel.
Please call or email me if you have travel questions or need assistance planning your next travel experience.
Yours in Travel,
P.S. — For travel ideas you may not have considered, please check out theTravel Inspirations page of my website where you will find a variety of travel opportunities with most offering special incentives.