How are you going to spend your ‘use them or lose them’ vacation days this summer? Another staycation where by day four your family is considering mutiny? However, your kids have outgrown most theme parks and family-oriented destinations. What’s next? And, purely incidentally, how are you going to afford to go away this year? The solution used to be just around the corner…now it is at your fingertips. There is a new breed of online travel agency that caters to a broad range of travelers and their interests. Travel is a highly competitive industry and by sitting at one’s computer, or using a tablet or Smartphone, the time invested will yield deals no traveler can afford to refuse.

Travel agencies used to be on every Main Street. Now you’ll find them as online businesses only. What hasn’t changed is their package deals for up to four persons are usually all-inclusive and a great way to save time and money. Just pay with your credit card, print your reservations (or save a tree and use their app), and board at the gate.

As an interesting aside, in the United States there are 13.6 million single parent households raising over 21 million children. Agencies, airlines, hotels, and even car rental agencies are beginning to recognize this change in family dynamics. Many agencies no longer penalize or surcharge single parents and adults traveling with children, but without a spouse. Travel packages for singles are also on the rise as it has been noted that Millennials’ disposable incomes has eclipsed that of Baby Boomers’.

Adventure Travel on the Rise

Speaking of trends, a recent study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) noted an increased demand for ‘adventure’-related travel over tours that offer experiences in a new region or culture. Food-oriented tours top the list and may include local farmers’ market trips, regional cuisine cooking classes, winery visits including wine tastings. ‘Immersive culture’ is a relatively-new term and includes in-depth studies, such as joining an archeological dig, learning a craft from an acknowledged master artisan, rock climbing, or simply living for a specified period with a remote people.

Speaking of trends, saving money ousted seeking warmer weather as the top reason many travel. Another consideration for those seeking a vacation that offers memorable life experiences without maxing out one’s credit cards, is to travel in the colder months. European travel, for example, is far cheaper from September through March, and their winters are milder. In fact, throughout the world there are winter festivals from Mexico to China and as far north as Sweden. Over a million visitors traveled to China’s month-long Harbin Ice Festival in 2017, a 200-acre city carved completely from ice and lit by brightly colored LEDs. Other tours include following the reindeer migration through Russia into Scandinavia. Not so adventurous? There are many options to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) including all-inclusive photography tours.

Whether you are looking to hang glide on the Mexican Riviera followed by a Margarita chaser, and five-star dining, or to rough in in the rainforest with the chance of seeing an endangered species first hand, online tour packages are the way to go. Your mind and horizons will expand, and your wallet will thank you.

Postscript: Travel Like Bourdain

One of the best-known chefs and travel show hosts, Anthony Bourdain passed away in June. His loss came as a shock to many, as even as he entered his senior years, Bourdain projected a vitality and energy force field that was youthful and irresistible. What Bourdain created in all of us was a sense of wanderlust. That we, too, could travel on our own (nevermind the entire film production crew) to some foreign land where we did not speak the language. That once there, we would move about in complete freedom, making acquaintances along the way, sampling the food, the culture, and the essence of what made that part of the world truly unique.

Embracing whatever happened, missing connections, less than 4-star accommodations, film crew denied access, whatever occurred, Tony taught us to regroup and to just go with it. For in those side-steps, he often found the most real life situations and unscripted personal experiences. Invoking that spirit of adventure in everyman is perhaps his great legacy and our open invitation to get out and explore the people and culture waiting in every corner of our world.