|Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President—Content/Editorial Director|
It’s easy to lament the difficulties of airport security and other indignities of day-to-day travel, but right here, right now, there’s never been a better reason to leave home for faraway places. Here’s why:
1. Customer Service: Most companies just get it and want to resolve issues rather than argue with the customer. Branded hotels, no matter how many stars or diamonds they’re shooting for, have empowered employees to fix problems on the spot and to exhibit an overall good attitude when dealing with guests.
2. Car Services: From Uber to Groundlink, getting from point A to point B has never been easier in foreign lands.
3. Easy Navigation: Now that I’ve got a speaking GPS on my phone (I use Waze), I never hesitate to hop in my rental car for a spontaneous side excursion when I’m in a strange new place. Never have I felt so liberated in my travels; I rarely fear getting lost and only once has Waze brought me smack into someone’s driveway when I was searching for a highway ramp in the dead of the night.
4. Premium Economy: Too many of my waking hours are spent worrying that I’ll get a bad seat on an airplane. The thought actually terrifies me. Now that airlines have stepped up their coach offerings with extra legroom for a few bucks more, I can breathe more easily again.
5. Good Bedding: When did you last suffer a bad sleep in a hotel because the bed was old and worn out? Long time, right? It’s virtually unheard of for hotels to serve up lousy old beds with awful, worn-out bedspreads. Don’t take this for granted, it used to be the norm.
6. Healthy Menus: The attention to low-fat, low-salt natural food in restaurants, hotels and cruise ships has made traveling less hazardous to your physique. These days, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll return home a wretched, swollen character because you’ve imbibed bad food and drink on your vacation, unless you’ve just purposely made poor choices. And you know who you are.
7. The Euro: It’s a joy to shop in Europe again without having to silently add another 30 or 40 percent on to the price of an item. In the past, I felt an object had to be truly unique to warrant the purchase; these days, with the Euro so low, it’s fun to walk along Europe’s main streets and snap up whatever looks pleasing.
8. Local Experiences: Most suppliers comprehend that travelers want to feel like a local, so they’re building relationships with the businesses around them that can provide insider experiences. Being wowed has become the norm and travel companies are upping their game to accommodate higher expectations.
9. River Cruising: This easy mode of sailing has extended the traveling life of the elderly by five or 10 years. And because ships dock right in town for the most part, it’s a snap to be right in the thick of things without a fuss or worry.
10. Advisors Rule: The level of professionalism in the travel agent community has never been higher. Agency owners have become thriving entrepreneurs and new industry entrants are finding novel ways to approach the crafting of authentic travel experiences. The upside for really good travel agents seems boundless at this juncture in time and that makes me smile.