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The Age of Cheap Travel – When will it end?

the age of cheap travelCheap airlines, flights between countries for less than $10, budget hotels, half off booking specials, cruises for less than $100, Cheap Ski Holidays, and all inclusive tickets for sights and activities in Paris, London, New York and more.

Being able to see the world has never been so cheap and accessible. Visit a tourist area and you will see – there are more people traveling than ever before. Even areas that weren’t tourist attractions are booming – in part because there are so many people at the tourist attractions that other people created new ones!

Tourism and travel are big big money and while you can imagine that people don’t want to stop traveling, one has to wonder – can it go on forever? Nobody knows for sure, but frankly – I doubt it.

I have the feeling that in a generation or two they will look back on these times with wonder. The fact that you can travel to so many places so cheaply is an absolutely amazing thing.  Two centuries ago, travel was something that the majority of people on the planet didn’t even think about. It was the domain of those who worked in trade or on ships and those who had so much money they could afford to build castles.  Sure, there were true vagabonds, but they were essentially outcasts, thieves, or in some cases truly adventurous but with a lack of  funds preventing them from doing it. Now, in this, I’m talking about leisure travel and not immigration.

A century ago – leisure travel was born but not  for the masses because it wasn’t cheap. How many families do you think took annual holidays in 1911? Do you think there were many solo travelers? Those who did travel became famous and wrote books or for the Saturday Evening Post or Readers Digest.

the rock of Molokai
Hawaii is still a dream for many, but a much closer one!

Even the advent of the jet age didn’t make things cheap. Work all year and if you were lucky, you could take two weeks to visit Europe or Hawaii – or more likely take a road trip to Yosemite or the Grand Canyon or maybe visit Hollywood or Florida.

Even twenty years ago, to take a flight was going to cost you $3000 + and it didn’t really matter where you went. Sure, once you got there it wasn’t as expensive as hotels and attractions today, but still getting anywhere was going to cost you. Save for a year at your gas station job to get a ticket to Southeast Asia and then live cheap…

But today? Hotel Freebies – Discounts, Free nights, Upgrades, Extras & more! or, flights to ten different countries for $10 each with RyanAir or WizzAir – when you get there you can either Couchsurf or stay in cheap hotels and hostels…make it for twenty days and average $25 per day for hotels (with some CSing thrown in) and you are looking at $900 for ten countries with air and accommodation for 20 days! Then there are Free Kids Holidays or you could get a super cheap German Rail Pass and spend your nights traveling and your days sight-seeing. Seriously, travel has never been so cheap!

turkish holidays on the cheapFrom there fly to Turkey for $100. Enjoy your holidays in Turkey and from Turkey to UAE for $100, from UAE to Asia for $100, from Asia to Hawaii for $500, from Hawaii to San Francisco for $200, from San Francisco catch an Amtrak Special to New York for a two week multi-stop trip for $300 and hey…an extra $1400 transports you all the way around the world!

And I just don’t think it can continue. Certainly it’s not environmentally sustainable and I suspect it’s not economically sustainable either. The world economy is so wrapped up in tourism that anything that damages it can be a major disaster.  A disease outbreak? A major crash from a budget carrier? Or something else…I look at all the people traveling and all the travel business and I cringe because it all looks like a bubble to me. Of course, there is always travel insurance, but that’s not really the point.

Maybe that’s the reason why I travel as much as I do. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to kick myself in fifty years when people are talking about how cheap and easy it was to see the world in the Twenty Teens.

I don’t want you to miss it either.

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Vago Damitio

Mr. Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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