With summer having just recently come to a close and fall making its cooler, windier presence felt in the weather, vacations to exotic hotspots around the world will become considerably less frequent than they were in the year's warmest season - until it comes back, of course. However, this in no way means that traveling stops, or even slows down in any major way. Businesses the world over still need to send their employees on corporate jaunts, and some people still go on vacation; it's just that their choice of destination is usually different from where they might go in summer.
Let's take a look at some of the travel-related trends and practices that are cropping up throughout the early weeks of the fall season as individuals search high and low for last minute flights:
Trusting the luck of the draw: Surprise vacations
Think of how difficult it can sometimes be to choose where to go on your vacation. In certain cases, you - or your whole family - have your hearts and minds set on a specific destination. But when you don't have a place in mind, actually choosing something can take days or weeks of thought (and, quite possibly, debate). If these discussions don't go well, you might end up with a "compromise" that no one's really happy about, or worse, not go anywhere at all.
According to The Washington Post, some wanderlust-fueled individuals choose to avoid this dilemma through a practice called "surprise vacations." The trend began in Europe and has since spread to the U.S. In one popular model, the only choice the customers make is one between road travel or taking a bus, train or plane, although they do fill out a survey before this step with details of past vacations, favorite recreational activities, culinary likes and dislikes, any health issues and the like. Then, travel professionals get to work on designing a trip that they believe, based on the available information, will tickle travelers' respective fancies.
If you choose to give this experience a try, how you'd learn your destination varies by travel planner. Some give certain information (weather, essential items, etc.) a week in advance and announce the destination just before the trip's first day. Others offer a series of clues at intervals leading up to the beginning of the vacation.
Keep this in mind, though: You don't necessarily need to pay an agent to pick a destination at random. This can be as simple as closing your eyes and spinning a globe or pointing blindly at a map. You might find a brilliant idea you hadn't considered otherwise!
Sustainable vacations - the affordable way
"Ecotourism" has existed as a colloquialism in the hospitality and travel sectors for quite some time. Simply put, it involves a vacation experience where you recycle - and avoid waste - as much as possible, help minimize the human footprint on the area and contribute to the local culture's well-being. All good ideas, but ecotourism is also well-known for its considerable costs.
However, a recent report by The New York Times found that this is no longer true across the board, as affordable sustainable travel establishes a respectable presence in the market. Through a number of shrewd travel planning decisions, environmentally conscious travelers can do their part to mitigate resource usage while still having a memorable vacation experience. Some of these practices include:
- Flying on airliners that partially run on renewable biofuels.
- Volunteering for part of a vacation's duration.
- Eating and shopping locally (and if possible, minimizing restaurant spending).
- Using hostels, home-sharing services and other platforms that are more likely to benefit the local economy than staying at a major hotel.
It's also important, when engaging in sustainable travel, to check if the place where you'll be staying is certified by any of the recognized designations afforded to truly sustainable hotels by prestigious sustainability-focused organizations. In America, the Times noted that the U.S. Green Building Council's seal for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design carries the most weight by this standard, and if a hotel is LEED Gold-certified, it's environmentally top of the line. That being said, as long as a certification is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, it's considered quite meaningful.