Travel Dreams 2017
Contributed by Lewis J. Walker, CFP®
Money is no fun unless you use it at times to have fun! Travel can be fun, as long as you have the right attitude and plan the trip with realistic expectations. We saw the Vietnamese doctor being dragged off of a United Airlines flight. Before I started my financial career I worked in marketing for two airlines, United in Chicago, and Southern Airways in Atlanta. Weird things happen daily on major airlines, but that p.r. disaster that went viral was a doozy!
Travel is a top line objective in most bucket list aspirations. Some say, “When I retire, I plan to...” Sadly, we have seen people lose their health and/or pass away with unfulfilled plans and dreams. You can travel inexpensively or in style, as you wish. If your goal is to broaden your world, travel is de rigueur. Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941), Britain’s celebrated steam locomotive pioneer, said, “Our object in traveling should be, not to gratify curiosity, and seek mere temporary amusement, but to learn, and to venerate, to improve the understanding and the heart.” Good advice.
Whether you tour the United States and Canada by car with camping gear, or fly to another continent, you have lots of options. The key is good research and the advice of a seasoned travel agent. With the dollar strong, Europe will be crowded, so plan ahead. Major attractions in top cities like London, Paris, Rome, or Barcelona will be busy. Work with your agent or check web sites like viator.com to book “skip the line” access or book local tour guides.
Cruise ships have distinct personalities. With large mega ships, the ship itself is by and large the destination, with myriad activities appealing to families, children, teenagers, etc. Some travelers want to avoid traveling with a few thousand of their closest friends, opting for smaller, upscale ships, with fine wines and dining as a major attraction.
Cruise Critic defines a large ship as 2000+ passengers. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas looks like a skyscraper laid sideways in the water, with 16 passenger decks and a maximum capacity of 6,780 passengers. Small to mid-sized ships carry 400 to 1,1999 passengers, double occupancy. Small ships may carry less than 400 passengers. The French company, Ponant, operates yacht-like luxury ships with 132 cabins. Adventure travel companies like Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic operate small and nimble ships that can venture safely into waters unavailable to larger ships. Alaska Dream Cruises vessel , Admiralty Dream, carries 58 passengers. Having traveled on that ship, be advised that cabins are small, but comfortable if you are flexible; the public room on the ship was a great gathering and visiting space, and the fresh seafood was phenomenal!
Airlines are upping their game. Delta is upgrading their Economy Comfort offering on international flights. Delta Premium Select on selected long haul flights will feature plated meals, wider seats with more leg room and greater recline. Other airlines offer similar products. Go to www.seatguru.com for information on seating for a large list of airlines. Seatguru will highlight good versus bad seats, tell you how wide the seats are and how much legroom you have. A little research can make all the difference in the world in comfort, especially for nonstop routes exceeding 8-10 hours in the air. If you can afford business class or have enough frequent flyer points, so much the better. Destinations in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific can result in trips exceeding 24 hours door-to-door.
If you are prone to seasickness, avoid Antarctica. Yours truly made that trip, and it was amazing. Just know that the Drake Passage is not placid. Stick to river cruises. Cruise Critic touts AmaWaterways, Crystal, Uniworld, Tauck, Avalon, and Viking as leaders in river cruising. Again, adventure trip operators offer small luxury ships that access rivers and areas like the upper Amazon not accessible by larger vessels. If you are going to make landings in Antarctica, you have to travel on a smaller ship.
If travel is your goal, build that into financial planning. Have a plan to accumulate funds. Planning the trip can be almost as much fun as going. And as one anonymous wit said, “Travel: some good advice, from one who knows—take twice the cash, and half the clothes.” Amen to that!
Lewis Walker is a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. This information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. There is no guarantee that any opinion or suggested possibility will happen.