Travels with Bob

Travel Opportunities Abound for 2024

The calendar says it’s officially 2024 affording new opportunities to get the important things right this year. Forget about resolutions; they’re usually broken by mid-February. Instead, I recommend setting annual targets for the important life aspects achievable within the next 12 months or more – including your goals for leisure travel.

The combination of Germany’s Bavarian Alps, Salzburg’s “Sound of Music” (above), Vienna’s culture and Prague’s history combine for a great 10 to 12-day year-round travel itinerary.

So, with that thought, let’s focus on the future of travel and forget about the complications many travelers endured last year, particularly those who traveled to Europe. The world-wide travel industry continued its recovery from COVID shutdowns last year against a backdrop of surging travel demand – resulting in traveler disruptions.

Perennial favorite traveler destinations continue to be the United Kingdom, Italy and France, but I recommend avoiding France until at least September following the Summer Olympics. Spain, Portugal and Greece represent excellent alternatives for in-depth exploration of a European country or region, or you might consider a Mediterranean “sampler” cruise that visits several countries. I also recommend custom summer itineraries such as Munich-Salzburg-Vienna-Prague, especially for beer lovers who would enjoy the summer classical music festivals.

At the same time, an increasing number of clients are discovering South America and the ABC countries – Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Buenos Aires has become a major jumping off point for exploration cruises to the Antarctic and it’s my favorite city on the continent – B.A. is all about tango, soccer and gauchos with a blend of several European cultures.

CHECK YOUR PASSPORT
The new year is also a suitable time to pull out your passport to make sure there is plenty of months remaining on it and that it is not damaged. A damaged passport is no better for travel than an expired one. The U.S. State Department promises to make renewing your passport easier in 2024 but I still recommend renewing with at least three months left on your existing passport.

You also need to be aware of evolving Visa and other entrance requirements. For example, beginning next week American and Canadian citizens traveling to Brazil will need an electronic visa obtained online, while the European Union plans to introduce in 2025 an electronic travel document linked to your passport for entrance to the EU block of 28 European countries.

At the same time, several popular European destinations are implementing new fees to offset the cost of over-tourism. Venice, for example, has announced 29 days in 2024 when day-trippers will incur a five-euro fee for admission to the city (overnight travelers in Venice already pay such “tourist” taxes collected by their hotel). The same is true in many other European cities, so factor such added costs into your travel budget.

2024 TRAVEL TRENDS
The “booking window” has lengthened dramatically during the past two years. Clients currently reserve many cruises – especially those cruising to exotic destinations – as early as two years or more in advance. Even Alaska CruiseTours, which combine a cruise with a pre- or post-cruise land tour, close out 10 to 12 months in advance for the best travel dates and accommodations.

I am currently working with several extended families and small groups of friends desiring to travel together on a custom itinerary that may involve a cruise, a land tour or combination of both. Many such travelers seek rich experiences immersing them in the local culture and history of the region or country. Spain and Portugal are excellent destinations for such travel itineraries.

Meanwhile, many clients are opting to forego international travel to discover parts of America they have never visited –especially U.S. national parks. Several new opportunities are available for Great Lakes cruises, as well as river and coastal cruises across the country. Another strong trend involves “wellness” travel nurturing healthy living habits or simply getting

When the Icon of the Seas debuts later this month it will be the largest floating resort and cruise ship at sea perfect for multi-generational travel offering something for literally everyone.

away for much needed rest and recuperation (R&R). Many such opportunities exist domestically as well as worldwide.

CRUISING UPDATE
Several cruise lines are debuting new ships in 2024 although fewer than during the past two years. The new builds range from Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, accommodating up to 7,600 guests at full capacity, to small ships that accommodate fewer than 1,000 passengers – particularly in the luxury and explorer classes of ships.

The annual “Wave Season” of cruise line promotions designed to generate most of the year’s reservations kicks off this week and continues through March by major lines. So, if you are even thinking about a cruise in the year ahead, now’s the time to act to get the best pricing, amenities and accommodation.

May your travels be carefree and exceed your expectations in 2024. Please call or email me if you have any travel-related questions or simply would like to chat about your travel goals.

May 2024 be your best year ever,