It is often the dream of many boat owners to travel the world safely on…
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared at Vrai Magazine on January 21, 2016
What does 2016 look like for the traveler? Cuba. Air BnB. Cuba. Rising hotel prices. Cuba. Smaller airline seats. Cuba. US National Park celebrations. And yes, Cuba. All these are on the table for the coming year. But what else? Humans are notoriously bad when it comes to divining the future but here is a quick look inside my travel trends crystal ball for 2016.
And did I mention Cuba? Sorry. Ok. Cuba.
Here are my Top Three 2016 travel predictions.
Airfares will Plummet
Expect airfares to free fall in 2016. I know, I know. The idea of “free fall” and a passenger airplane typically makes one shudder, but not this time.
Over the past few years airlines have come up with far too many new routes and so there is an impressive inventory of excess seats out there. To sell those seats, airlines will look to drop their prices. To compete, others will follow. You win.
Energy costs will also benefit fliers in 2016. As I write this, the price of oil has dipped below $30 a barrel. While airlines typically price fuel costs many months in advance, the world has seen nearly half a year of falling oil prices and that isn’t about to change. Other forms of getting around will likewise be cheaper so you can expect crowded roadways in 2016 too.
On top of all of this, the United States Justice Department is investigating several airlines for collusion…that is, price fixing. Yup, some of those big ticket prices we’ve paid the past few years may have been due to illegal activity on the part of carriers. No matter where that investigation goes, it’s good show for the airlines to drop their prices a bit so they don’t look like such baddies. That’s good for us. Then there is the entrance of the so-called “non-legacy” carriers like JetBlue and Virgin America. The more competition, the better.
And finally, who wants to fly? Let’s be honest, most airlines treat their customers like dirt. That is particularly true of US-based carriers. While there remain a few classy airlines such as SAS and Turkish Airlines, the fact is that most airlines no longer care whether you enjoy the experience or not so expect some people to seek out alternate forms of transportation for non-overseas travel and expect airlines to drop prices further in order to get them back.
Tourist Destinations Will Rebel Against Tourism
Let’s face it. Tourism may be killing itself. Late last year I wrote:
“Angkor Wat is literally being trampled under. More than two million people visited the ancient ruins in 2013. According to the Cambodian tourist board that number is increasing by 20% each year. The thousands of tourists visiting Machu Picchu are loving it to death. So many millions visit the Sistine Chapel every year that the carbon dioxide they breathe out is damaging the art. The Eternal City itself is worried that tourism might be worse than the visit of the Vandals in 455CE. The Altamira paintings survived for 30,000 years but couldn’t survive 50 years of tourism without a crackdown. The curse of King Tut’s tomb is tourism. Too many panting visitors have the walls deteriorating from the moisture in their breath. Tourists are climbing Egypt’s pyramids illegally. Cruise ships pollute on a massive scale.”
And we could go on. I certainly did. Read that screed here.
Many hot tourism locations are simply getting sick of tourists. Barcelona is making it hard for visitors to find a place to sleep. Copenhagen and Paris have both instituted “quiet zones” to protect residents. France has made a high-tech replica of the Chauvet Cave to protect the real paintings from tourists. Buhtan is already famous for its strict controls on tourists. Nepal recently announced it will begin limiting the number of climbers on Everest. Here in the United States, climbers are battling within their own community to protect archaeological resources before they are banned from certain areas. The travel industry itself is waking up to part of the predicament it has created. While the Travel and Tourism Collective Impact Summit, for example, is noble in its vision, it remains fundamentally flawed because it insists on pushing for the mass tourism that is itself the problem.
So look for more of this rebellion against tourists throughout 2016. I predict this trend to really grow over the coming decade. Destinations have pushed for tourism as a panacea to all that ails them and now many are starting to see that mass tourism comes with its own challenges.
Airlines Will Screw Members of Loyalty Programs
It has already begun. Several of the big airlines have already changed their programs, many of those changes being devaluations. And I’ll tell you, this pisses me off to no end, it feels like a stab in the back. Yet it will go on and it will get worse. So what should you do?
Brian Kelly of The Points Guy says:
“My biggest tip is to get a card that gives you flexibility when it comes time to redeem and you don’t put all of your miles in one basket. I recommend three programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and American Express Membership Rewards because they each allow you to accrue points into a central pool and then transfer to numerous partners.”
Other experts I track say that 2016 is the year to burn your miles. Don’t hang on to them because they might be worthless by the end of the year. Those of us who’ve loyally gathered our frequent flier miles over the past twenty years are in for a shock in 2016.
There you have it. My 2016 Travel Predictions. Things are going to change. And it is time for a change.
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