Transformational, authentic, experiential, wellness, instagrammable,  overtourism or unplugged,  these buzzwords are ubiquitous in all travel promotions these days.  Add to them, the multitude of land touring choices: independent, small group, large group, or private jet and the choices increase exponentially.  I haven’t even mentioned the dilemma of choosing the right ship or boat for cruising the world’s oceans or rivers.   When did leisure travel get so complicated?

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Ballooning over the Masai Mara?

The Grand Tour

Early travel was for the very wealthy. The “Grand Tour” of the 19th century rarely deviated from the sites in Italy, Greece and maybe Switzerland or Egypt. Moving into the 20th century most travel followed the social “seasons” from New York City to London to Paris, unless you needed a “cure” for all the partying then you stopped at one of the first wellness resorts in Germany.   The choices in ocean liners expanded and prices began to fall and more travelers hit the road.

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Travelers have favored Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast since the days of the Grand Tour.

Travel in 2019

Fast forward to 2019 and your choices are whatever you can dream, or afford.  Globalization is here (not a political statement) and the world is smaller, but so much more confusing.  Is it safe to go to Egypt?  Will I feel welcome in Russia? Can I get on the internet in China? What countries in Africa are malaria-free?  Will I get norovirus on a ship. (A recent study showed it was more prevalent in hotels last year than onboard ships-just FYI.)  And Cuba, well the rules are ever-changing and confusing, but everyone wants to get in that pink Cadillac.

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Havana, Cuba

 Do I Need A Travel Advisor?

Why this diatribe?  The question I am asked most on social media is do I really need a Travel Advisor? Do you need someone who is an expert in a destination or type of travel? Who has personally experienced most of your top choices?  The elephant in the room is that yes, travel advisors do get commissions, at varying levels from most hotels, tour operators and cruises they book.  Does this make them biased?  Will they promote their clients’ interests over the highest commission opportunity?

Do you really think that a true professional (as most travel advisors are today) would place the best interests of a potential long-term client over a one-time percentage point or two in commission?

My advice is to think about your travel objectives, for this year and the next 20 years, and then shop carefully for a professional travel advisor to help you navigate the options and make them come true.   I have traveled the world for many years, visited almost every country and consider myself somewhat travel savvy. Travel is, however, my largest financial investment each year.  For that reason and all the above,  I always repeat always, use a travel advisor and am always thankful I did.

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 A Private visit to Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo, Russia

Full Disclosure

I am currently Managing Director, Communications and Public Affairs for Signature Travel Network.  Signature is a cooperative of over 7000 leading travel professionals. So is this post an advertorial?  No, but the fact I  accepted this position at this point in my career is my strongest endorsement of the value of a travel advisor.  I am honored to help spread the news.

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In my “happy place”, Petra, Jordan

Happy and safe travels in 2019.

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