Sunday, December 14, 2014

Roadboy's 2015

Winter In Paris

As 2014 comes to a close it is time to start thinking about 2015. 

I believe 2015 will be a transformative year in travel thanks in part to rapid changes in the airline and hotel industry. To this observer it feels like most of the major airlines and hotel chains are staying up late searching out devious new ways to assure that our loyalty goes unrewarded (i.e. inflating reward levels and adding lots of new little fees).

Maybe it is just that roadwarriors are set in our ways. But it is hard to shake the impression that we are getting less, less and less from our travel dollars. 

I see a collision ahead. 

Many of us in the business community are coming to realize that our more savvy clients are increasingly receptive to us joining them via online meetings in lieu of reimbursing us for costly and time consuming business travel.  Online web chats are certainly reducing the number of business trips I take each year.

Perhaps the decline in business travel, when coupled with the dramatic increasing income disparity in the US, will net a corresponding shift in middle class recreational travel toward road trips and less expensive travel. And I think that may eventually compel a correction in the travel industry. I mean, sure the 1% will still check into a Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton, but historically cost sensitive destinations (like Las Vegas and Atlantic City), along with modest hotels and mid-level cruise lines may find themselves competing over a shrinking customer base. 

As for me I am planning "50/50" travel in 2015. 

50% of my travel time will be exploring new destinations and 50% revisiting old favorites. 

I plan to begin with a mid-winter visit to Spain, France and England. This is the 50% revisiting old favorites part.

During a mid-winter trip to Paris a few years ago I realized how much I enjoyed the City of Lights under a light dust of snow. That magic powder scares off hordes of tourists. Yet this is when the fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens sparkles with a little ice and trees in the parks show off the precise box cuts they were given last fall. Of course, boulangeries still bake flaky croissants and restaurants are much happier to welcome visitors. The famous museums are all open and wonderfully uncrowded. And, Paris' famed department stores offer their biggest sales of the year. And, while I do not enjoy shopping much, I do find a perverted pleasure observing the world's richest (nouveau riche) and most entitled shoppers (quite literally) fighting over a few discounted Longchamp and Chanel handbags. And, while they "shop", thier army of limo drivers awaits at the curb with motors purring.  

As for me I prefer to see my Paris via a good pair of shoes, a set of "180's" ear muffs and a few layers of wool.

After Paris there will be a quick chunnel trip to enable a few days in London. And, since I love Spain's wonderful airports, the trip will begin in regal Madrid and end in lovely Barcelona (taking the edge off the cold at each end of the trip)!

As for the rest of the year? Well Roadboy is still contemplating a second trip for 2015. Costa Rica is high on my "To Do" list. But there are a dozen other destinations that beckon me as well.

Roadboy's Travels © 2014

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