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Things Are Bad, Except Where They Aren't

Scott Vogel

Think no one's traveling these days, that we're all scaling back, setting our sights on day trips or worse -- staycations?

Think again.

Even as millions of Americans are rethinking their commitment to the summer vacation, a small fraction of us are actually living it up like never before. These would be the super-rich, whom -- as you might have noticed -- haven't really felt the pinch of an economic downturn. But for a clearer picture of how this immunity is impacting the travel industry, consider yesterday's AP story by David Sharp.

There's the high-end tour company TCS Expeditions, for instance, "which offers tours via private jets" and "is sold out for 2008 and nearly sold out for 2009." (Don't worry, the "Around the World 2009" tour is still available at a price of just $64,950 per person -- double occupancy, of course.)

Sharp's article is full of such sign-of-the-times observations. Another one: Given the economy, you might think that the competition for rooms at budget hotels would be fierce. Actually, "occupancy rates are higher at the top-tier hotels like Ritz Carlton," according to the AP story.

And even as you contemplate a summer spent at the local public pool, there are others out there contemplating their options in the burgeoning field of space tourism.

Only in America, huh?

By Scott Vogel |  July 8, 2008; 6:05 AM ET  | Category:  Scott Vogel
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I sense some sarcasm in your post. Please don't knock the rich or well-to-do folks for having money. I don't have what the rich have and can't travel beyond the DC Metro region due to high gas prices, but, I don't knock others who have what I don't and neither should you.

Posted by: Chill out Scott | July 8, 2008 8:31 AM

Huh.

People thought my husband and I were crazy for not canceling our "vacation" this summer. Now I can just refer them to this article.

(Our trip was less of a vacation, though, and more of a "get our obligatory family visits out of the way" road trip so we don't need to subject ourselves to airline travel during the holidays, which now involves no non-stop flights and layovers in Lake Effect Snow impacted towns. Besides, we figured we actually spent less on gas on our single, 30 mpg Altima road trip than some of our neighbors who routinely drive to see their families over 100 miles away in one direction in their minivans.)

And yes, we shouldn't knock those with money. But conspicuous and/or invidious consumption has always been tacky. Snarkiness isn't always uncalled for.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | July 8, 2008 8:59 AM

I've always preferred the go-cation myself.

However having just spent the GDP of a medium-sized nation state on a month-long family trip to England and Spain, a year of Top Ramen dinners is looking pretty likely.

On the bright side, London, Seville, Cordoba, and Granada are lovely when not thronging with tourists flush with cash...

jamie
http://www.travelsavvymom.com

Posted by: jamie | July 8, 2008 10:09 AM

Hey Chill out Scott, the issue here is that the rich are getting richer even as the poor (and middle class) are getting poorer. That is absolutely a problem.

Posted by: Liz | July 8, 2008 11:02 AM

Not every trip has to be by car or by plane. For example, when I leave the city during occasional summer weekends, I take the train to the Jersey Shore to visit w/my family at our beach condo. Trains are a great way to travel because:
1. It's a very relaxing mode to travel;
2. You're not told to stop using your cell/laptop/DVD player when leaving the station (unless you're on the Quiet car of a train) when taking off or landing; and
3. You can leave your seat and go get a snack, drink (no food left to eat on planes!) or relieve yourself without being told that you have to return to your seat because of turbulence.
Now, if only trains could travel underwater to San Juan for my cruise...:-)

Posted by: Shep C. Willner | July 8, 2008 2:42 PM

Sheez. The problem with the media is that they sensationalize in the articles. The economy has NOT COLLAPSED. I work in the tourist industry and there are still a hell of a lot of people still traveling and spending money on their trips.

Posted by: charlie | July 8, 2008 2:46 PM

Um, Mr. Willner?

I too, love to take the train. However, that's a bit of a problem in many areas of the country, where passenger rail simply isn't available.

Seen the Amtrak route map lately?

http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/national.pdf

In Wisconsin alone for example (where I moved several years ago from DC), passenger rail does not service UW Madison (40,000+ students), UW Stout (in Menomonie, 8,000+ students), UW Eau Claire (10,000+ students) - even though passenger rail from the "Twin Cities 400" still sits there. I know lots of students and their families that would love to be able to have their kids travel safely along rail to various parts of the state.

Amtrak was the one of the worst things to happen to passenger rail in many ways.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | July 8, 2008 4:47 PM

Well, I am only going to use 2 weeks of my 3 available for vacation this year. Took one trip up to Montreal and Quebec City in March, and I am going to Vegas next week. Next year though, I am not planning much at all. I am thinking of camping at a local place in the mountains for a week, and a couple of weekend getaways for cultural events. ( No car, so I will rent when I camp, and be doing Bus and trains for the weekend travels to NYC, Philly and Pittsburgh.) Doing that in part because, I have decided to splurg a little on this next trip, and will need to shore up the coffers. But I plan on having a good time seeing Bette at Caesar's, as well as Melissa Etheridge, Gypsy and Thurgood in NYC ( flying in and out of JFK to Vegas)

Posted by: rja112 | July 9, 2008 12:49 AM

There is still plenty todo, close to home and hotels prices are still reasonable. Or just stay in DC area and enjoy. Look at the website specializing in road trips - like rand mc nally, tripwiser or www.tripcart.com.

Posted by: billy | July 11, 2008 10:11 AM

Posted by: billy | July 23, 2008 7:52 AM

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