When the ball drops in Times Square, the new year will begin a new decade. But some travel trends from 2009 will be sticking around. So what travel trends should a savvy traveler be aware of in 2010?
1. More creative travel. Whenever gas prices soar and consumer budgets tighten, travelers get creative. Home exchanges are one of many creative vacation options that are here to stay. A home exchange program is where two members who are interested in visiting each others’ areas get to know one another enough to literally exchange homes. A family in Germany may live in the home of a family from New York while that family is visiting their exchange partner’s home in Germany.
Other travelers prefer to spend their vacation serving others. Whether they are involved in teaching English or working disaster relief, more people are looking for purpose in their vacation. In fact trends in creative vacations all offer more than just cost savings. They offer new friendships and good feelings with less tourist trappings.
2. More competition for travel dollars. As vacationers get creative, competition in the travel industry heats up. Many luxury hotels in popular tourist destinations will continue to offer incentives of all kinds in an attempt to lure vacationers. Some small business have found paying cruise liner prices for business conferences to be more economical than renting hotel space. And the deals aren’t likely to go away soon.
3. Increasing demand by foreign governments for documentation of travel health insurance. In 2009, many countries, especially those with a government health care plan, began tightening their health insurance requirements for visitors to their country. And such pressure for proof of international health insurance is only like to increase in the new year.
Incidents in which a foreign citizen becomes unexpectedly stuck in their country without proper treatment or a way to return home creates an uncomfortable international situation for many first world countries especially. Business people who need semi-permanent visas are especially encouraged to research any new regulations for the country they plan to do business in. This should be done in plenty of time to procure needed documents.
4. International travel and health insurance not affected by possible healthcare bill passage. Although it seems any official passage of a healthcare bill will wait for the new year, the results are not likely to change the need of travelers for international health insurance. Medicare currently doesn’t currently cover overseas services, and many private insurance plans gave similar restrictions. Even plans that do cover medical services rendered outside of the country, do not cover medical evacuation back to the US. In a true overseas emergency, these are always big concerns for travelers.
5. Terrorism travel concerns. Unfortunately, terrorism is not taking a vacation. The effects of terrorism will be felt in everything from heightened air travel security to hotel bombings to interrupted flights. International flights to and from the US are the most likely to be affected. The use of full body scanners are likely to raise the privacy concerns of disabled persons and certain religious groups. Longer lines and travel delays are inevitable along with quickly changing regulations. Make sure to keep up on the latest travel regulations just before your flight and know what your travel insurance will cover in case of a serious incident. Do not assume terrorism can’t happen to you.
On a lighter note, one travel news-maker should become less of a concern as 2010 moves on. Not only are there vaccines available to fight the Swine Flu pandemic, but developments have been less severe than feared. Although the Swine Flu is still killing at risk people under the age of fifty, the older population seems to have some immunity. Unforeseen events could still occur, but the current 15 percent infection rate in the US is much lower than the 50 percent infection rate originally predicted.
So here’s wishing you a safe new year of travel.