Top travel tips for the com­ing new year

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - RON PRADINUK

EV­ERY year, in the col­umn clos­est to the new year, I try to project into the near fu­ture and out­line the trends that are likely to be­come travel re­al­i­ties over the com­ing months. Tech­nol­ogy

It is this area where the big­gest ad­vance­ments in travel seem to be be­ing made, and 2015 will be no ex­cep­tion.

The Mar­riott Ho­tel chain has be­gun a test pro­gram in 31 of its prop­er­ties that en­ables guests to check into their room be­fore they even ar­rive at their ho­tel.

The guests com­mu­ni­cate their ar­rival time on their smart­phone dur­ing the check-in process, and the ho­tel will en­sure the rooms are ready by the time they en­ter the prop­erty. The Hy­att Union Square Ho­tel in New York re­ports 40 per cent of their guests al­ready check in via their iPad pro­gram.

A num­ber of global brands have be­gun of­fer­ing con­nec­tiv­ity that en­ables you to en­ter your room with­out a key card.

On a sep­a­rate is­sue, in study after study, trav­ellers have said they ex­pect Wi-Fi to be a free ser­vice in their rooms. The smaller prop­er­ties steadily moved to pro­vide the ser­vice free to their guests, while the larger cor­po­rate chains held off.

Now, more and more of them are mov­ing to in­clud­ing it for guests who be­long to their loy­alty pro­gram, and more are of­fer­ing ba­sic Wi-Fi free of charge.

The growth of smart­phones for travel will con­tinue un­abated as we at­tach apps for world golf cour­ses, nav­i­ga­tion and lan­guage trans­la­tion.

You can ac­tu­ally ac­quire an app that will show you the po­si­tion of your in­com­ing air­craft in flight, or the ex­act lo­ca­tion of the cruise ship you may be tak­ing for your next va­ca­tion. A more lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence

While the all-in­clu­sive va­ca­tion may still be the pre­ferred choice for those of us seek­ing a short sun des­ti­na­tion es­cape, for more ex­otic and longer planned va­ca­tions, the trend to­ward rent­ing homes keeps in­creas­ing in num­bers ev­ery year.

There are now nu­mer­ous web­sites that fa­cil­i­tate house rentals around the world, even for short-du­ra­tion stays.

One of the new­est ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions for trav­ellers un­veils it­self in what might be de­scribed as a mod­ern ver­sion of couch surf­ing.

Once the way only young peo­ple trav­elled, to­day the less so­phis­ti­cated ver­sion of the tra­di­tional bed and break­fast has taken on ex­panded mean­ing as home­own­ers in­vite you to stay in their ‘spare room,’ dine with them, and even join them for tours of the ci­ties in which they live.

A some­what dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the old hos­tel ex­pe­ri­ence, also once only the purview of younger trav­ellers, has ex­panded into what are called ‘posh­tels.’ Th­ese are an im­proved ver­sion of the youth hos­tel, and ap­peal to those who want more pri­vacy than hos­tels of­fered, but still pro­vide for ex­cel­lent so­cial in­ter­ac­tion within a cost ef­fi­cient frame­work.

Great im­mer­sion in the places we visit are of­fered by sites such as eatwith.com that pro­vide meals and cook­ing classes with lo­cals in des­ti­na­tions around the world. Air Miles are not re­ally air miles

The ma­jor re­ward pro­grams of­fered by air­lines for your loy­alty are chang­ing their strat­egy.

Once point lev­els were awarded on dis­tance flown, but that is chang­ing in­stead to a re­ward sys­tem based on price paid per ticket.

Those of us now fly­ing in econ­omy class, re­gard­less of how fre­quently, will not be re­ceiv­ing re­wards at the same level as those in the front business-class sec­tions.

Aero­plan, not the first to do so in North Amer­ica, has al­ready an­nounced the shift. Ac­tiv­ity-based va­ca­tions

Golf was once the most popular ac­tiv­ity pur­sued by those seek­ing things to do while on va­ca­tion.

The Tiger Woods era seems to have passed when the over­build­ing of golf cour­ses dur­ing the height of his pop­u­lar­ity mo­ti­vated golf in­ter­est. To­day in the United States, a golf course is clos­ing ap­prox­i­mately ev­ery 48 hours.

Given the fact most golf cour­ses in­sist play­ers use carts, the de­gree of ac­tiv­ity could be ques­tioned any­way.

Now it’s cy­cling and hik­ing that have moved up into the high-de­mand ac­tiv­ity cat­e­gories for trav­ellers.

An ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the need for ex­er­cise to stay healthy for young and old alike has seen com­pa­nies such as Canada’s own G Ad­ven­tures move into the fore­front for trav­ellers seek­ing more from their va­ca­tions.

They have be­come a ma­jor player in the in­dus­try sec­tor that pro­vides ac­tiv­ity-based pack­ages from be­low the sea to high up the moun­tains, and all the ter­rain in be­tween. Solo travel is catch­ing on

While sup­pli­ers are still not to­tally ad­dress­ing the frus­tra­tion sin­gle trav­ellers have with what they per­ceive to be un­fair sin­gle-sup­ple­ment pric­ing, solo travel is start­ing to take off in a big way.

In­ter­net in­for­ma­tion on tourism des­ti­na­tions, along with the many re­view sites avail­able to those re­search­ing places they wish to visit, has given solo trav­ellers greater knowl­edge about re­gions, ci­ties and coun­tries that are deemed safe.

Rather than be­ing in­hib­ited by fear, the emerg­ing solo trav­eller is ap­proach­ing his or her plan­ning with a greater sense of con­fi­dence and in­de­pen­dence.

There are many more travel pat­terns that are emerg­ing than can be cov­ered in one col­umn. Over the com­ing weeks, I will try to high­light at least some of them.

For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­neystravel.com. Ron Pradinuk is pres­i­dent of the Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­per­Centre and can

be heard Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found at jour­neystrav­el­gear.com or read Ron’s

travel blog at that­trav­el­guy.ca.

RON PRADINUK / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

An app is now avail­able that can pro­vide the ex­act lo­ca­tion of your sched­uled air­craft.

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