Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Preparing For: Disturbing Travel Trends

I came across this article today, 8 Disturbing Travel Trends You'll Confront in 2018, and figured forewarned is forearmed.  The spouse and I have decided that this will be a no travel year (most years we travel two to four months out of the year) and already it has had very relaxing results (we got to decline two travel offers already this year due to having a firm decision not to travel anywhere this year).  However if you do need to travel this year and you have perused the article, here are some tips:

  1. Fewer consumer protections.  We all know there are fees upon fees when booking with airlines.  My answer to that is to avoid fee-heavy airlines (Spirit, Allegiant, etc) and to only travel with a small carry on bag and not check luggage (it can easily be done and saves baggage fees and a lot of hassle).  I also avoid airline hassles by not traveling during holidays and other heavy travel days, trying to book direct non-stop flights, and comparing prices for flights using Google Flights.
  2. Widespread reduction of Amtrak routes.  I have taken Amtrak a few times and was pretty disappointed each time.  I am used to the train system in Japan which is extraordinarily good.  Amtrak is meh on all counts (timeliness, cleanliness, speed, etc).  I just don't take Amtrak.
  3. Threats to safety.  Referring specifically to airline safety, I still have no problem flying.  It is much safer than driving if you look at the statistics.  You can also choose your airline based on their safety record as well as opt for major carriers instead of regional carriers (I'd prefer a pilot with 20,000 hours any day).
  4. Hotel resort fees continue unabated.  Resort fees are a rip off in anyone's book and apparently Las Vegas has taken the lead in uping resort fees as high as possible (these don't include parking fees, club entry fees, spa fees, etc).  If I was traveling and didn't have to stay in a specific place (like for a conference) I would give my business to a hotel without resort or parking fees (there are several of these in Las Vegas but they are not on the Strip).
  5. Worthless reservations.  I think in most cases airlines and hotels want to honor their reservations.  I've never had a reservation canceled so I can't really comment on this but you always have the power to handle the situation correctly (if you are told to get off the airline, get off.  It ain't your plane), to take your business to a company that will treat you right, and to book elsewhere if you end up having a problem.  You can also complain enough in a justifiable situation to demand some sort of recompense for your troubles.
  6. Uber and Lyft security breaches.  Security breaches are a regular occurrence these days.  With so much technology, and ever-evolving technology, in play I don't see a time when there won't be security breaches.  As far as personal security goes with ride sharing, again, I haven't had a problem with this but always be on guard, ready to protect yourself, and above all, follow your gut and opt out of a ride if you don't feel good about it.
  7. Tighter airline seats.  On the one hand, people shouldn't be the size of two or three normal-sized human beings but since 70% of the population is overweight or obese that doesn't seem like it will be trending down anytime soon.  On the other hand, I've been on some planes where all seats are sized for a slim teenaged girl which leaves out a great deal of the population.  Yes airlines are ruled by greed and they don't care if you are uncomfortable.  So your options are to not fly or specifically book a seat that will accommodate you.
  8. Distracted driving still a menace.  Tell me about it.  You will see near daily fatal crashes in Las Vegas simply because people are not paying attention.  You see people still talking on their phones and driving even though this is illegal.  And you see drivers in full fits of road rage because they can't time their drive appropriately.  Driving defensively is about all you can do.  And these days you won't catch me out driving late at night (too many drunk drivers on the road around here).

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