Travel Dilemma: Old Favorite Or Someplace New?

I’ve just spent four days in London, where I saw friends and did some work before heading up to Oxford for two weeks. My family and I do this every Easter and summer. It’s good for my kid’s English (we live most of the year in Spain) and my wife and I both have plenty of work to do up here.

While I love these regular trips, there’s always a nagging pressure in the back of my head to travel to someplace new. We could just as easily spend Easter in Tunisia. In fact, it would be cheaper! Then there’s that hike I’m planning in Scotland for September. While I love hiking in Scotland, why not do that hike in Montenegro like I’ve been talking about?

Or I could skip the hike and take a slow boat up the Gambia River, or visit the pyramids of the Sudan. The world is big and my time is finite. Should I really be going back to the same place over and over again?

Gadling’s own Annie Scott came up with ten reasons you must revisit. Her reason #10 is the most important one: “to check in on friends.” We’ve been coming to Oxford and London regularly enough that they aren’t so much trips as they are homecomings. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice that for the sake of simply seeing new sights. Even going somewhere a second time, like I did when I revisited Harar last year, allows you to look up old acquaintances and turn them into friends.

Revisiting a familiar place has so many rewards… and yet the rest of the world beckons.

It’s a constant struggle. Some places like Oxford, I won’t let go, since they’re a part of my wife and son’s lives too. Harar I also don’t want to let go, but that’s my own thing and an expensive thing at that. The rest is a delicate balancing act, one that I feel I’m never getting entirely right.

So do you prefer to travel to a new place or an old favorite? Take our poll and share more of your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy Archibald Ballantine. No, that’s not me with the map.


Travel welcomes multi-generational groups with open, engaging arms

Mom, Dad and the kids like to travel. They like theme parks, resorts and cruises. They like to bring along the grandparents too. It’s nice for the kids to have quality time with the grandparents. It’s even better if the grandparents are buying. Multi-generational travel (3G) is hot and sellers of travel are going after it with every engaging tool they can find.

Many couples in the U.S. work more, make less and struggle with mortgages and bills. In a new, more realistic U.S. economic system that doesn’t allow them to live on maxed-out credit cards, something has got to give. Money they don’t have. Time they have but they give it up to answering emails at night. On the weekends they reach out or engage in other activities to help shore up their employment security in uncertain times.

Heather Scott from says “multigenerational travel experiences are becoming more and more common, especially now as many families struggle to take time out of both parents’ work schedules to spend not just with their children, but with grandparents and other family members.”

Grandma and Grandpa, on the other hand, have both time and money. They can go on vacation just about any time and have the money to pay for the whole group. (Remember, this is the greedy generation that caused this mess.) They also are more physically fit, able to do more and will probably live longer than the grandparents of yesteryear.

Multi-generational Travel is increasing and it’s a good match for grand parents that don’t see enough of the grandkids anyway and Mom and Dad who otherwise wouldn’t be going on vacation at all. Parents like that price tag and like having the Grandparents along for built-in babysitters too.

Theme parks, all-inclusive resorts and cruise lines are courting the 3G market like never before. Mommy-bloggers get front row seats to everything Disney and other theme-park operators have to offer. They know Mom’s opinion, as direct caretaker of the kids, weighs heavy on the vacation decision-making regardless of who is paying. They want Mom on their side and promote their brands to her on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets with gusto.

Cruise lines too are going after the 3G bunch with increased interest. The cruise industry evolving and settling in to more detailed individual branding. At first it was “Go on a cruise” as the industry worked to swing vacationers from land-based vacations. Not long ago it was “Go on OUR cruise” Right now it’s “Go on OUR cruise and bring your family” as lines are target families of all shapes and sizes, going after their business in some unique ways.

Starting out 2011 with an engaging bang, Carnival Cruise Lines became official confetti sponsor for New York’s Times Square New Years celebration. In that defining event, the line dropped a ton of confetti on the crowd at midnight and social engagement became a huge part of what they do.

Much of that confetti came from visitors to Times Square who stopped by the line’s “wishing wall”. There, they hand-wrote their hopes and dreams for 2011 on red, white and blue slips of paper included in the drop onto party-goers. It doesn’t get a whole lot more engaging than that.

Not that social efforts are something new to Carnival, John Heald’s Blog written by the lines highly-visible senior cruise director dates back to 2007, draws thousands of fans daily and provides the cruise line with a non-corporate voice to deliver their message.

They are not the only ones either. Princess Cruises thoughtfully entered the social arena with their Twitter #FollowMeAtSea trips where travel bloggers and writers were sponsored for an actual cruise to share with followers on Twitter and Facebook. I was on the last one, a 12-day cruise tour through Alaska last June that travelers still ask about today.

Princess has evolved their efforts now to include their 50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List blog. The weekly posts that will run for a year are written by their own destination experts about some place that Princess sails to. The deeply personal posts as well as background on their writers are resonating with readers who spread the unique content to like-minded friends via Twitter and Facebook.

Royal Caribbean International too is engaging potential 3D travelers in another unique way.

Called the “Ocean Views” film project, Hollywood’s James Brolin, Jenny McCarthy and a boat load of stars recently wrapped up shooting a series of original short films as Hollywood goes to sea on board Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

McCarthy’s film is called “The Allure of Love” and tells the story of two friends and their plan to get two exes back together.

Brolin directs and stars in “Royal Reunion,” a short film about a multi-generational family voyage on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

The cruise line hopes the series attracts a variety of audiences, including those who may not have otherwise shown interest in taking a cruise vacation.

“In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, it’s important to recognize that consumers are getting their information from a variety of channels,” said Betsy O’Rourke, SVP Marketing, Royal Caribbean International.

The two films debut today on Allure of the Seas followed by a release to the general public via Royal Caribbean’s website and YouTube channel at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Later, the line will host Jenny McCarthy(@jennymccarthy) along with Justin Baldoni (@justinbaldoni), Amy Yasbeck (@amyyasbeck4real) and Scott Elrod (@scott_elrod) to discuss the films and their experiences onboard Allure of the Seas. Join the party by following #OceanViews on Twitter and follow host @RoyalCaribbean.

Flickr photo by JPott

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Disney gets keys, takes new ship for a spin

It’s been a while since Disney Cruise Line launched a new ship. 1999 to be exact was when the line so closely linked with a magical and enchanting cruise experience for children of all ages drove off the lot with a new build.

Under construction for nearly two years, new Disney Dream officially became the property of Disney Cruise Line as the ship was handed off at Meyer-Werft shipyard in Germany. Next week the new ship will be Port Canaveral bound where her first revenue cruise will begin on January 26.

“The Disney Dream is an extraordinary ship, in part because of the collaboration of the superb shipbuilders at Meyer Werft and the innovative technology and storytelling that our Disney team has developed and implemented aboard,” said Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line. “I cannot wait for our guests to experience this newest addition to our fleet, a ship that will delight and surprise all ages.”

Making space for Disney Dream at a newly-updated cruise terminal at Florida’s Port Canaveral moves Disney Wonder to the West Coast where sailings will include voyages to Alaska, a first for the line and a move applauded by fans of cruise vacations.

Disney Dream is scheduled to sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas. Sister ship Disney Fantasy, one of several new ships due out from an assortment of cruise lines, is currently in production at the Meyer Werft shipyard. Disney Fantasy is scheduled to set sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries in 2012, also from Port Canaveral.

Help for lost cameras

The folks over at Jaunted posted a story yesterday about a friendly-looking family who dropped their camera at some point while on a trip to Maui. A good Samaritan found the camera and posted one of the pics on Reddit last week, along with a plea for help in locating the family so that their camera could be returned.

According to HalogenLife, in a prime example of the power of social media, the family was located and the camera is on its way to be reunited with its rightful owners.

That news in itself is pretty cool. But what I found even more interesting is that there are apparently several websites dedicated to helping people recover their lost cameras. On photos from orphan cameras are posted each Thursday. I haven’t lost a camera recently, but I think I may become addicted to scrolling through the pics looking for familiar faces. There’s got to be someone I know on the site, right?

Jaunted has a better, smarter solution for digital camera owners though. Write your name and contact information on a card and snap a picture of it. Lock it on your memory drive and internal memory and voila – electronic dog tags for your camera! If someone should find the camera and scroll through your photos, they can easily get in touch via the info you’ve provided. You know, if they aren’t just going to keep your camera for themselves.

Who works harder? Aussies or Americans? What does this mean for tourism?

In this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australians are touted as working the hardest out of people in the developed world.

Here are the statistics given to prove the point. In Australia:

  • Almost 60% of the people with full-time jobs don’t take all of their four-week vacation time.
  • Years of this practice have many people with 8 weeks of unused time.
  • Corporate men ages 35-49 with kids under 12 are the biggest culprits of this practice.

I find the statistics interesting since I don’t know many jobs in the U.S. where people have a starting vacation time of more than two weeks. Many begin a job with less than that. Many folks don’t even get a paid vacation. In order for people to have acquired eight weeks of unused time in the U.S., they would have had to have not taken ANY vacation for at least four years if they are the ones with the two-week time frame. In a Gadling post in 2007, Willy pointed out the U.S. statistics which don’t bode well for those looking for R&R on a beach somewhere.

However, given that if the Australian statistics are indeed correct, and who really cares anyway, the larger point that the article makes is important indeed. Unused vacation time means unspent tourist dollars. In today’s economy, tourism could be a big economic boost to many parts of both countries–Australia and the U.S.

In Australia, the not taken time equates to $31 billion in holiday pay. Yowza! Hoping to tap into the dough, Tourism Australia has a program called “No Leave, No Life,” in order to get the business community to buy into the idea of the importance of taking that vacation time.

I think the U.S. needs to tap into the idea of more vacation time, period. If people are given four weeks, they may take two at least.

As part of the campaign in Australia, and I’d bet the U.S., part of the TV and print ads need to address the issue of how important it is for dads to spend time with their children. AND show dads having fun doing it.

Anyone with kids who are bickering at home with each other and arguing about cleaning their rooms, or whining from the backseat, “How long before we get there?” may think that work is actually more relaxing than that family vacation.