Last week I looked back at 2016. This week as we make our way into 2017, let’s look ahead at some of the travel trends for the new year.
Now I’m going to focus more on Europe, but some of the trends are broad. And I’m also giving you a sneak peek at some of my top picks for the best destinations for European travel in 2017. That list is coming to you very soon. So stay tuned.
In the meantime, let’s look at a few trends.
Terrorism in Europe
Yes this was part of the year in review, but let’s face it, there is still fear of traveling to Europe in light of the past year or 2.
Now I’ve already stated statistics for being killed by a terrorist act compared to a car accident. And I’ve lamented about the media playing up these acts — not that they are not terrible. I’m not making light of them. But I do think living in fear is a horrible way to live your life.
Be aware. Be cautious. But don’t be afraid. There’s still so much more kindness in the world than meanness. More good than evil. Read this or this. These are real world tales of travelers. Trust in the goodness of your fellow human being.
So if Europe is on your radar screen for 2017, don’t let terrorist acts stop you.
The one thing I will say is that your travel could be affected to some degree. There is a higher police and military presence in certain places. There might be more checks of bags, persons, etc at airports and you could even see some random checks on trains or busses.
Pack your patience. The Europeans are trying to figure out how to be more secure without invading their citizens’ privacy. It’s a fine line as we Americans know. 9/11 taught us that.
Travelers want more authentic experiences
This has been a trend of the past couple of years that continues to grow in 2017. I personally like seeing this.
Travelers are getting away from just seeing a site. They want to interact with the locals, learn about the local culture, experience living like a local.
So they are not merely seeing a site, they are finding things to do that give them a better sense of the people and the culture of the place they are visiting. And they may be mixing in some of their own personal interests.
Travelers are taking cooking classes or painting classes. They’re staying on farms where they learn about what life is like for an Italian or a French farmer. They’re curious and inquisitive. And as a result they’re having richer experiences.
Mostly travelers are looking for more meaning in their travels. It’s not enough to see the Eiffel Tower or the Berlin Wall or the Roman Colosseum. Travelers are seeking to delve into the culture of the places they are visiting to gain a better understanding of the people and to also learn more about themselves. I applaud this.
Alternatives to hotels
Airbnb and other sites such as Home Away are wonderful tools to use if you are okay with not having the amenities of a hotel or even a B&B. It’s a great way to dive into the culture more — going out to shop for food at the local markets and cooking for yourself. This is a fabulous way to live like a local.
But Airbnb is not always cheaper than a hotel or guesthouse as they would like you to believe. My advice is that, while I love this trend of living like a local, do some comparison shopping. You might find that the hotel is cheaper. Or it might be that the apartment in Barcelona is the better option.
Don’t assume. Do your homework — or have your travel agent (ME!) do that research for you.
The dollar versus the euro
The best trend, in my opinion, is that the Euro is close to being on par with the US dollar. This makes any European country that uses the Euro a better deal than it has been in years. Now no one knows how long this will last. With a new administration coming into the White House here in the US in a matter of days, and many European countries with elections this year, this can certainly change. But it’s unlikely that it will go back to being 1 Euro equaling 1.55 US dollars (1 US dollar equaling .65 Euro) as it was back in 2008 when I was traveling in Italy and Paris. It was about the worst exchange rate since the Euro came into being!
So take advantage of this fabulous exchange rate and make those plans to travel to Europe like you’ve always wanted!
And now a peek at some of my top destinations for 2017
About 2 years ago I booked a trip for some clients to Portugal. They were mostly looking to go to the southern part of the country, the Algarve, where there are some lovely beaches and some nice beach towns. I encouraged them to stay a night or 2 in Lisbon as it was the best place for them to fly into. They were very taken with Lisbon and wished they had more time there.
Lisbon is a bit like San Francisco here in the US as it’s hilly, by the water, has distinct neighborhoods and it has trolley cars. It’s compact and easy to get around.
However, unlike San Francisco, Lisbon is quite inexpensive, especially by western European standards. It’s the capital, but unlike other capital cities — London, Paris, Rome, Berlin — it’s really affordable.
There’s beautiful architecture, loads of history, delicious food, the Fado music scene, great shops and tasty wine.
And it made my list as, not only did my clients love it, but every blog post I read about Lisbon raves about it. How gorgeous it is. How inexpensive it is. That it should be on everyone’s list of “must see” cities.
While I’m not as much of a big city person, something tells me I too would fall in love with Lisbon.
Every time I see the Tour de France riders cycle through the Pyrenees I always tell myself that I really must get to the Pyrenees. But I still haven’t gotten there and I still want to go.
Forming the border between Spain and France these mountains, while not as high as the Alps, have always been a bit of a barrier between the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and the rest of Europe. They’re quite formidable and quite beautiful.
But that’s what makes these mountains so wonderful. They’re kind of overlooked. However, they have incredible skiing and snowboarding in winter and fabulous trails for hiking in summer. And they are less crowded and yes, less expensive.
The towns on both sides of the border are charmers. Places like Beget and Camprodón in Spain and Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Villefranche-de-Conflen in France.
I think what intrigues me most is that because these mountains form this “barrier” there are loads of legends and myths surrounding the mountains. And the role the Pyrenees played in WWII totally captivates my imagination. It was through those peaks that many Jewish families and downed pilots escaped. It’s always been a place of magic and mysticism. And I love to listen to these types of stories.
This Eastern European country has been on many must see lists in the past couple of years. And it’s definitely on mine.
Well first of all there are charming Medieval towns with cobblestone streets to wander about. Towns like Sighisoara, Biertan and Viscri look as though they’ve stepped out of a fairytale.
Secondly are the castles. Yes Bran Castle, Dracula’s Castle, is in Romania. It’s thought to have inspired Bram Stoker in writing his famous book. But there are more castles scattered throughout Romania — Corvin, Peles and Jidvei are a few. And there are some fortified churches as well. The architecture of these buildings is stunning!
Romania will surprise you with its natural beauty. And this makes it very appealing to me. There are 13 national parks and 3 biosphere reserves. The Carpathian Mountains run from the north to southwest part of the country. They’re gorgeous!
There is plenty of forested area to explore as well. And you’ll find some beaches and lovely resort towns along the coast of the Black Sea.
But the most exceptional place of Romania’s natural world is the Danube Delta. This is where the mighty Danube River flows into the Black Sea. There’s a biosphere reserve here and it’s a biodiversity World Heritage Site. You’ll find loads of plants and birds here. It’s quite unique and very special.
I can’t end my 2017 trends without talking about the country I’ll definitely be visiting this year — Ireland.
Ireland sees loads of visitors each year, especially from America. After all, many of us have Irish roots.
But Ireland never goes out of style, at least not in my book.
I could go on about all the things I love about Ireland — there are many — but let me mention a couple for now.
As a person who loves nature, I simply love the variety of Ireland. Soaring mountains, lakes, rivers and streams, rocky coastline, sandy beaches, peaty bogland, fertile fields and not so fertile rocky lands — Ireland has it all.
And I think many folks are surprised by this. They don’t expect to see rugged mountain peaks or gorgeous lakes or beautiful stretches of sandy beach in Ireland. But, I promise. Ireland has those things.
I love the small towns of Ireland. How a car will be sitting in the middle of the road as the driver is busy chatting with a friend walking along in town. No mind to the cars stacking up behind them. It’s small town Ireland.
The towns are quaint and charming. Often quite colorful. Sometimes they’re by the water or sitting at a crossroads. But you’ll always find a pub.
And that’s the third thing I love about Ireland — the pub. It’s not simply a place to drink. The pub is where the townspeople come to share stories and gossip of the goings on. It’s a place for them to gather. And yes, there might be some pints involved. Nowadays it’s often a place to have food as well. And often it’s a place to share the music of their tumultuous history.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I love Ireland for its people. I always say that the Irish are the nicest, kindest, most big-hearted people on the planet. And they really are. They’re quick to help you out if you’re lost or to offer some advice on what to do on your stay in their country. The Irish will always welcome you with a warm smile into their homes. And it’s real. It’s genuine. They really are happy to meet you and to know you.
I can’t wait to be back in this incredible country!
So as 2017 gets underway here’s a question for you…
And I’m not going to ask you what your travel plans are, but rather …
What are your travel dreams for 2017?
And my next question …
What are you waiting for?
Tomorrow is not a guarantee my friends. Make those travel dreams come true…