This past year was a reinvention of sorts for the travel industry, and now that spring has officially sprung, it’s time to reap the benefits!
With a newly vested interest in getting back on the road and seeing the world, the adventurous traveler has more opportunities than ever to set out and discover new things in 2014.
From booking options to new security measures, here are five things any vacationer should take advantage of to help make the journey just as enjoyable as the destination!
1. The flight experience: If you travel a lot, you may be used to tuning out preflight announcements. But now there’s added reason to pay attention – you’ll likely be hearing good news about the use of electronics during your flight. During takeoff and landing, you can now use an e-reader, tablet or smartphone – as long as it’s in “airplane mode,” so it can’t receive or transmit data. And with the advent of new technology like phablets (smartphone-tablet hybrid), Google Glass and smartwatches, it couldn’t be a better time to sync up in the air.
Additionally, domestic airlines are rushing to reconfigure their transcontinental cabins in an effort to lure high-paying passengers. With the premiere of new premium cabins like JetBlue’s Mint in July, the passenger bar may just be rising to a new cruising altitude.
2. The security gauntlet: Don’t think that just because you’re not a frequent traveler with high status or a member of the Global Entry club that you’ll never enjoy the benefits of TSA Pre, which is a specially designated line in security where the lucky travelers don’t have to remove shoes or belts and they can keep their laptops and liquids in their bags. In other words: how it used to be. It’s still a random line and so you may be lucky one day and get picked. And even if that doesn’t happen, the large number of travelers who are now being routed through this specific security point means your line just got shorter.
3. Destination unplugged: In our hyper-connected world, travel has become a popular way to break free of technology and strengthen family bonds. And certain destinations stand out for unplugged family and multigenerational vacations – places such as Costa Rica, which is home to the Tortuguero (“turtle catcher”) National Park and acres of vibrant flora and fauna.
Try thinking outside of the box for destinations as well, or rediscovering old ones. Big cities like Cape Town, Warsaw and Rio de Janeiro are all great places this year, but why not try something a little closer to home? Stateside attractions like the River Arts District in Asheville, N.C., and Union Market in Washington, D.C., are lively and walkable areas that offer great local artist shops and prime eating spots.
4. Creative thinking abroad: Looking for that creative spark? Try to head for a place where the young, hip generation is taking it upon themselves to change the world, one store, restaurant, art gallery or record shop at a time. That’s where you’ll find the kind of local vibe treasured by experienced travelers.
And while you’re there, get a taste of the local fare. The underground supper club is coming into the light. A slew of websites are enabling home cooks – amateurs and professionals alike – to invite out-of-towners into their private dining rooms. Websites like EatWith, Feastly and Traveling Spoon are great places to take a bite out of when dining out on vacation.
5. The happiness factor: The days of going online and simply searching for the cheapest flight are coming to an end. If you’re tired of being miserable in the air, try using sites like Hipmunk.com, which uses its “agony algorithm” to search flights based on a combination of factors. Routehappy.com allows you to choose “happiness” by helping you check out features other than price for your flight – such as roomier seats, power adapters and seatback TVs.