Travel in a Recession

The extreme volatility in the market place and fall in job security had sideswiped consumer confidence. The fall of asset prices have reduced household wealth for the first time in nearly 20 years. We have skidded into a “Cash is King” economy. The natural response to these conditions is to “spend less, travel less”, as travel is considered discretionary spending. As the main drive of travel and tourism is income, the outlook for the traveler is looking pretty grim. Or is it?Having said all that, I’m a firm believer in seeking out opportunities in the face of adversity, and for the global traveler, there are plenty of opportunities out there. Firstly, it is essential to focus on the value that travel creates in our personal as well as business lives. What one gains when one travels is so much more than the initial cost. When we travel, we immediately shift into a different mindset as we prepare for “exploration”. We are more present than at any other times in our daily lives, and this particular mindset inevitably leads to “discovery”, whether it is the discovery of different cultures, a reconnection with family and loved ones, business opportunities, or discovery of self. This is why I prefer to view travel as an investment. The key to traveling in a recession, therefore, is to cut cost without cutting the travel. This can be done in a number of ways.1) Check out flight and accommodation bargains via online booking.
The advent of online travel bookings has been a blessing to the frequent traveler, and it makes more sense than ever to simplify the booking process. The smart strategies for booking online are to look far in advance to take advantage of good rates and packages, and to be flexible with flights and accommodation in order to get the savings.2) Consider closer destinations.
Destinations that offer value for money with favorable exchange rates have an advantage as price becomes a key issue during times of recession. For example, Australians are now shifting their travel preferences from Europe and the US to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.3) Check out your own backyard.
Traditionally, there has been the perception that traveling within ones own country offers poor “brag value”. However, the recession is seeing more travelers experiencing what their own country has to offer.4) Look at Low Cost Carriers (LCC).
30 years ago, whilst stranded at an airport, Richard branson chartered a plane, sold seats to other stranded passengers, and in effect started Virgin Atlantic Airways. Today, the low cost carrier segment (LCC) owns one third of the travel market. from this year (2009), Air Asia (Asia’s answer to Virgin) will be flying Australians to Britain using Air Asia X through Kuala Lumpur. This route will be equally popular with Europeans heading to Australia. Air Asia is now Asia’s largest airline, with 79 mostly airbus aircraft heading to 72 regional destinations.5) Rethink your accommodation.
Check out “pensiones’, “hostales”, Bed and Breakfasts, and serviced apartments as viable alternatives to hotels. They can be very pleasant and they can lead to a more authentic travel experience. However, it is also becoming commonplace for 5 -Star properties to offer 3-Star prices, or to promote very attractive package deals. Search the net for accommodation deals before you make your booking.6) Take shorter breaks more frequently.
When your budget does not allow for a longer overseas trip during the year, do not underestimate the benefits of more frequent weekends away. After a couple of nights in rural surroundings, staying at a quaint “B & B”, eating a great meal at a local restaurant, you will come back home refreshed and recharged.7) Go Cruising.
Cruising continues to experience unprecedented growth as it provides great value for money, particularly for families. With an average duration of 10 days, one can visit multiple destinations on one itinerary, take advantage of a variety of cuisines and entertainment which are all-inclusive, and you only have to unpack once. Today’s cruises are not just huge floating resorts that cater to the mass markets; there are now so many types of cruises available.How long this downturn will last is anyone’s guess. But the frequent traveler is not ready to give up on their travel altogether, and taking advantage of the travel opportunities that are out there will make all the difference between feeling the pinch or the pain.