February 21, 2024 | A 'perfect storm' makes this year a great year to travel (WTOP's Rachel Nania)
WASHINGTON — This year is shaping up to be one of the best years to take a vacation, a nd travel expert Peter Greenberg says a “perfect storm” of events has made it so.
For starters, the U.S. dollar is stronger than it’s been in decades, which increases Americans’ buying power by 35 to 40 percent.
Then, there’s fear associated with global instability — “ or the perception of global instability, which has resulted in a drop of foreigners traveling to the United States in record numbers,” Greenberg said.
“What would have been full seats going abroad are now empty seats because they never came over in the first place,” he added.
This is where supply and demand kicks in. Greenberg says thanks to an excess in supply, travelers are snatching up bargains at times of the year one might never expect to find a deal.
Ready to see the world — or just take a break from the daily grind? Here are some of Greenberg’s best tips for scoring the trip of a lifetime at a dream price.
The perfect storm
There are several factors fueling the current “buyer’s market” in the travel industry. Brexit and the devaluation of the euro, and the British pound against the U.S. dollar is making Americans’ money go farther than it’s gone in decades.
Plus, foreign travel to the U.S. is down “in record numbers,” leaving a lot of empty airline seats.
“There are bargains everywhere at times of the year where you would never expect bargains to be there,” said travel expert Peter Greenberg.
Pictured: A dinner of dumpling soup and side dishes at Seouls Gwangjang Market where food stalls attract visitors in the evenings after shops have closed. Seouls hyper-efficient capital draws visitors with its exquisite restaurants, historic palaces and ultramodern infrastructure. .
(AP Photo/Amir Bibawy)
AP Photo/Amir Bibawy
Tip #1: Don’t book travel online
Greenberg understands the convenience of booking travel online, but says if you limit yourself to websites, you’re only seeing half of what’s out there — or 52 percent of the inventory, to be exact.
“That means when you’re in your bathrobe at 2 a.m. booking that trip, you’re automatically disenfranchising yourself from up to 48 percent of what’s out there,” Greenberg said.
Pictured: The countryside in the Chianti region of Tuscany.
(AP Photo/Gretchen Heefner)
AP Photo/Gretchen Heefner
Tip #1: Don’t book travel online
There’s nothing wrong with doing initial research online, but Greenberg says before you type in your credit card information, pick up the phone and physically call the airline, hotel or booking agency directly.
“They have information and inventory on their screen that I guarantee you, you do not have on your screen,” he said.
A hotel might have a last-minute cancellation from a conference or a wedding party, for example.
“And let’s face it: A hotel room or airline seat is a very precious, fragile commodity. Once the plane takes off, the sun rises and the ship sails, they can never recoup that inventory; they can never recoup that money.”
Pictured: The Burj Al Arab, a seven-star hotel, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Tip #2: See the world from the sea
Some of the best travel deals of 2017 are out to sea. Greenberg says those looking for action, luxury and a deal can find it all on a cruise.
“Every shipyard in the world is operating at 100-percent capacity, which means they’re building more cruise ships than ever,” Greenberg said.
There are options ranging from large 6,000-passenger ships to smaller, 600-passenger vessels. Some are outfitted with suites and all-inclusive restaurants. Others have wave pools and indoor sky diving simulators.
“But the best part of these new [smaller] ships coming out is where they go,” Greenberg said. “It’s not just the traditional seven-day cruise to the Caribbean — they’re going to Antarctica, they’re going to the Russian far east, they’re going to South America, they’re going to Bangladesh.”
Pictured: The Queens Grill Suite is shown aboard the cruise liner Queen Mary 2, docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, in New York. There are 81 Queens Grill suites on the ship, all offering private balconies.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
Tip #3: Keep an open mind
If your idea of the perfect vacation involves exploring unfamiliar and somewhat forbidden lands, Greenberg says go for it. His rule when it comes to safe travel: He will go anywhere in the world as long as he knows who is in control.
“So would I go to Iran tomorrow? Yes, I would, because I know who is in control. Would I go to North Korea tomorrow? There are American tourists there right now. Why? You know who’s in control,” he said.
Syria, parts of Chechnya and the Congo are examples of destinations to avoid.
Pictured: Visitors enjoy the view on top of a peak of Mount Kumgang in North Korea. Since South Korean tourists have been barred from the luxury resort, known abroad as Diamond Mountain, North Korea has begun courting Chinese and other international tourists.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan