The Coronavirus. It’s everywhere - literally and figuratively. It’s continuing to show up in more places worldwide. It’s on our televisions. It’s in our newspapers, on the radio and podcasts. It’s discussed at the office water cooler. The virus has now been detected in 56 different countries, and as the worldwide numbers continue to rise, the media continues to keep us in a mild panic with 24-hour coverage. Now, I am somewhat apprehensive writing about this particular subject and how it pertains to you and your travel plans. I, like most of you, am certainly concerned and somewhat fearful of the unknown. Like any virus of this kind, this too shall pass over time, but at what cost? My heart aches for anyone who has been directly impacted physically, emotionally or financially by this virus. That being said, we all have to continue living our day-to-day lives and for many of us, that includes traveling. Whether it’s for business or leisure, many of us continue to travel during this time of uncertainty concerning the virus. Hopefully, this article will provide some much-needed clarity and help you feel a little more at ease about any upcoming travel.
Ahhh, Spring. One of my favorite seasons. Now, you may be saying, Erik, what are you talking about, it’s still the dead of winter! Well, to you I say, “correct.” HOWEVER! One of my favorite things about spring being just around the corner is the return of Major League Baseball! Which brings us to the real reason I'm mentioning spring… MLB SPRING TRAINING!! Pitchers and Catchers have all reported, and teams are in full swing (pun intended), gearing up for the first season of the new decade. What better way for a baseball fan to enjoy his or her spring than to travel to spring training to soak up a little sun and enjoy America’s Pastime.
Estimating the cost of a vacation can be daunting especially if you’re looking for cheap places to travel. Embarking on a vacation on a budget can be stressful, difficult to plan and budget properly, and lead to more frustration than excitement. You worked hard to plan this vacation, and the planning should be a fun first step to a fun adventure to someplace new. So let’s all just cool our jets, breathe, and get ready to be realistic with our expectations (and our wallet)
Since the early days of recreational travel, travel agents who worked in a travel agency have been helping the public plan and book amazing vacations worldwide. They were Disney travel agents, Marriott travel agents and others. In the “good old days,” your travel agent or travel consultant was a trusted ally in your circle who most-likely worked in a tour agency - much like your family attorney, doctor or accountant. Your travel agent sent you a card on holidays and your birthday, and always kept you alert to new specials and emerging destinations to visit. They would throw get togethers and invite you to view slides from one of their client’s recent vacations. In short, they were your personal inspirational motivator of exploration. (I like the sound of that!)
In previous articles, we discussed the creation of a “Vacation Dream Calendar”, scheduling your holiday travel and Spring Break. If you missed any of those, you can read them here.
If you have followed my counsel and created your calendar and scheduled your holiday season travel and Spring Break travel, then CONGRATULATIONS! Your vacation calendar looks amazing! Now let’s discuss summer travel.
In previous articles, we discussed the creation of a “Vacation Dream Calendar” and the importance of scheduling your holiday travel now. If you missed either of those, then you can read them here.
If you have followed my counsel and created your calendar and scheduled your holiday season travel, then CONGRATULATIONS! I am so proud of you. Now let’s discuss Spring Break travel which is of course, all about spring breakers.
In a previous article, we discussed the creation of a “vacation dream calendar”. If you missed part one of this series, you can read it here.
I thought now would a good time to discuss MAJOR holiday travel planning. If this applies to you, then you’re in luck! If not, go ahead and pass it along to that friend who every October bemoans the “airline tickets for Christmas are so expensive”.
Scheduling for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years can be tricky, because it oftentimes involves extended family members who aren’t as prepared as you are! Be that as it may, do your best to book these travel plans as early as possible to potentially save yourself a lot of money and headache at a very stressful time of year.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to plan, you’re planning to fail”; and I couldn’t agree more. It’s January, we’ve recovered from the holidays and it’s time to take a look at the calendar to decide what vacations you’re going to take this year. I am all for spontaneous getaways, but for most of us, the calendar is a factor in our trip planning. So I say, create a “Dream Vacation Calendar” for the year. Why do this? Because the sooner you book, the greater the likelihood you’ll get a better deal on price. For instance, “wave season” in the cruise industry starts January 1 and runs through the end of March. This is the period of time when A LOT of cabins get booked for the year. I suggest using a printed calendar so its a visual you can look at day-to-day for motivation! So let’s get planning!
It's time to take a look at your driver's license and see if it is compliant for travel within the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress back in 2005. This means, if you are a US citizen over the age of 18 and are flying domestically (within the US) then you will need to present a compliant, valid ID. If that is your driver's license, then it must comply. You'll know because it, generally speaking, will have a star at the top of the license.
You can read the official release from the Department of Homeland Security here.
The deadline to comply is October 1, 2020 so check with your state's DMV to acquire a new ID. You will not be able to pass through security checkpoints at airports without this enhanced driver's license or other acceptable forms of ID.
The TSA has a little helpful "Real ID" information which can be found here.
You can use a valid US passport for domestic travel but why risk losing it for quick trip to Chicago? I say, do a little home-state sleuthing and get yourself down to the DMV.
So, you have the travel bug and your significant other doesn’t? Or, maybe it’s you that simply just doesn’t see the value? In either case, I can help. Travel is aspirational, it’s a “want” and not a “need” in the eyes of most. It’s often hard to clearly define the benefits of travel because, well, travel is personal. And what I mean is, travel means different things to different people, therefore the pros and cons are all over the map, so to speak. Nevertheless, I will do my best to shed a little light on the subject.
Let’s start with the facts. According to Forbes, the travel industry worldwide is a $7.6 trillion industry. It directly and indirectly employs millions of people. It’s a true economic force not to be reckoned with. Think about, the airlines, travel agents, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, local shops, restaurants, bars, theme parks, and national parks- they are just a cross section of industries whom all rely on a financial transaction that has something to do with travel. Let’s not forget about the auto industry, apparel, luggage, and tech companies- if you look around, you’ll start to see, travel isn’t a BIG it’s a HUGE business. So, by participating, you are fueling economies, paying for goods and services, or maybe helping to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier. Think of the housekeeper you tipped $5 for taking care of your room for two nights, or the server who went out of their way to serve you an excellent meal- so you throw them $20 as opposed to the standard 20 percent.
How about time off? According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off initiative, the average American leaves eight paid vacation days on the tabe each year. Unacceptable. Really? It’s a benefit of your employment. Because employers figured out long ago they want happy, motivated workers. They are literally paying you to be away from the office and, for the most part, were opting to stay at our desks working ourselves to death.
Speaking of health, more and more research emerges consistently about the health benefits of travel. Sure it might be a little counterintuitive because travel can be stressful, but the the big picture is, travel is usually good for the mind, body and dare I say soul. Have a look at the latest research conducted by Timo Strandberg of University of Helsinki, and learn all about lowering your blood pressure while away. More benefits include getting a little more Vitamin D from the sun, getting a little more exercise by exploring or swimming in the ocean, or even having better sex! It’s not my opinion, it’s science, folks.
Not getting along with your mate as well as you’d like to? Well, travel is an excellent way to share an experience with the one you love. Laughing a lot, trying new thing, and falling asleep in each other's arms again can all be part of the travel fun!
The New Year celebrations have long since ended and perhaps you made a resolution to learn something new. Or learn a new language or become more culturally well-rounded? Hello? TRAVEL!
Okay, now comes the uncomfortable part. How do you pay for this life-changing vacation? That’s up to you. But the word TRAVEL begs a little personal definition. I used to define “vacation” as a far off place, that's expensive, and that requires a tremendous amount of planning and financial resources. Those trips do exist. But after traveling for a living for more than a decade, I now completely understand the true meaning of the word. Travel is defined by YOU! An extended weekend away without the kids? Travel. A short cruise to the Caribbean? Travel. Getting in the car and rediscovering your neighboring town? Travel. Camping by the river or in your own backyard? Travel. Forget about keeping up with others. Don’t just do what everybody else does, do what YOU want to do. Go where you want to go and be with the people you want to be with. Nobody really cares and if you have people in your life that you feel are judging you based on your travel plans….get rid of them! You see, you DEFINE what travel travel means to you and yours. Travel doesn't have to be expensive. How about missionary work? Voluntouring? The possibilities are seemingly endless because travel’s such a huge business.
Hopefully, I’ve peeled back the onion layers here to help you get a clearer picture of the big world out there just waiting for you to explore. Now, all you have to do is... do it. Good luck and keep me posted on your plans- before, during, or after you return from your next great adventure.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!