A recent article I read on BBC Travel had me thinking.
Later this Summer or at the beginning of Autumn, if all goes well with my earned holiday time (I’m suppose to be awarded 30 days of free holiday for staying in Japan an additional year), I’ll be on my way to a new part of the globe I never explored before. The sensible side of me thinks I should make a return trip to Southeast Asia and travel parts of Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia I have not been yet, as well as possibly visit Laos and Burma.
But the explorer yearning for new passport stamps and parts of the world I have not been to, is trying to convince me that I should return to Europe and see Spain, Croatia, Greece and Turkey for the first time, as well as make return visits to France and Italy. With the Euro zone issues currently affecting Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, the explorer side of me just might win the argument. But it is the right time to go to these places when they are suffering economic recessions?
Time to go Greek?
According to the BBC article, travel to Greece fell by 15% in the first quarter of 2012. When tourism is your number one industry, that is a huge deal. It definitely doesn’t help Greece that Germans make up their largest travelers and currently many of the Greek protesters have an anti-German stance.
The thing I worry about is not knowing what to expect when traveling there as a traveler. Will your Euros, or drachmas depending on what happens in Greece, be happily welcomed by locals? Or will you be resented for having money to readily spend?
It’s okay if it’s the USA
When the US dollar started falling rapidly in 2008, a lot of travelers from Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand took advantage and booked trips to the states. Many savvy shoppers with an eye for American goods (not necessarily American made) discovered that they could fly to the U.S. and shop for the fashions they like and save money rather than buying the same fashions while in their home countries. This is certainly true for Australians who sometimes pay 25% more for products. You can’t blame them for being smart.
Travel to the U.S. has increased since the recession began. Even while the U.S. is in an economic recovery, the dollar’s fall has kept it advantageous for people to explore the typically high-cost cities like Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Las Vegas and Atlanta. The major problem with travel in the U.S. is the distance between major cities like the ones I mentioned mean that you must fly from one to another. High fuel costs and a lack of competitive airlines, now mean that you have to stick to a coast or region if you want to keep your U.S. travel inexpensive.
Planes, trains and automobiles
Europe and Asia, on the other hand, have much more inexpensive travel options when it comes to trains, buses and airplanes that can get you from A to B safely, fast and conveniently. With the Euro going down, cruise lines, airlines and hopefully trains will be less expensive. But to make up for loss profits, many restaurants, hotels, hostels and tour companies sometimes increase their charges.
Travelers to Asia often talk about how cheap it is to stay, play and eat in places like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Even in the major cities and capitals here, you can get by for less than $10 USD per day and feel like a prince. As these countries experience economic growth, they still keep prices down- an advantage to travelers. So is there a huge difference in taking advantage recession hit countries in Europe as you would inexpensive Asia?
The bright side for the traveler in all this, is that less tourists means shorter lines, more available sand, no waits at popular restaurants and feeling like the world is yours. Worth it? You bet.
If I do travel to Europe, what companies should I use for inexpensive flights, ferries, cruises, etc.? Would you go to European countries hit by economic recession?