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Last month, MMGY Travel Intelligence, MMGY Global’s research and insights company, released the findings of its 2019 Portrait of American Travelers survey. The report shows that travelers are concerned with safety, with the biggest jump among Millennials; have a more conscientious approach than ever to travel, believing that overtourism will have a significant impact on destinations; and are ready to hit the road by car.

Safety When Traveling Internationally
Travel advisor Lynn Ciccarelli, owner of Bella Vacations, says that, “American travelers in general are worried about safety. Safety is a personal decision, and as a travel advisor it is our job to figure out what will be the best decision for that client.” Susan Farewell, a travel advisor who owns Farewell Travels, adds that safety goes beyond terrorism attacks or street crimes, although the latter she says needs to be discussed with clients, “as all too often travelers let down their guard and become targets.” She goes on to explain that, “we have several doctors among our clientele who worry about traveling and disease. They’ll worry about cleanliness in thermal baths,” for instance.

Overtourism
According to the survey, 60 percent of American travelers believe tourism overcrowding will have a significant impact on the destinations they choose to visit within the next five to 10 years. Farewell says this is a major concern among her clients, and “we do everything in our power to steer clients away from this. That said, many of our clients are locking into the school calendars, having to travel when so many other families do. As a result, we route them to avoid the crowds as much as possible. This starts by educating them to be open to our suggestions.

“For example, the first thing a client will say when they mention Greece is ‘Santorini’ and ‘Mykonos.’ We avoid these islands in July through mid-August as much as possible, choosing instead smaller, lesser-known islands that are often more Greek anyway.”

Ciccarelli concurs—“I point out that it might be better to go to the places outside the over-touristic places. Instead of Venice, stay in Verona or stay away from the Rialto Bridge. Go to the tourist areas early in the morning before the tour buses and cruise passengers visit.”

Road Tripping
The survey points out that 63 percent of travelers said that they intend to take a road trip in the next 12 months, but this doesn’t mean hopping in the car and heading to grandma’s. The primary reason for a road trip, according to the report, “is the ability to make stops along the way and the ability to pack everything in the car.”

The survey also identifies a popular variation on the traditional road trip where travelers fly to a starting point and road trip from there. MMGY is calling this segment “Wings & Wheels” travelers, which, they say, is being “propelled by Millennial families who believe road trips evoke a sense of nostalgia and a means for family bonding that stimulates the creation of valuable vacation memories.”

Farewell notes that she designs many road trips for clients, pointing out that “these can be as short as weekend escapes from New York City or 2-week-long itineraries in New Zealand. We pride ourselves on our very specific recommendations along the routes, including where to stop for the best cup of coffee and how to get to an out-of-the-way artist studio or farm. We are doing a lot of these trips now in New England, Northern California, the Pacific Northwest and Southwest.”

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