Fall travel is changing. Here’s what to know when planning

Paris, the City of Light, darkens. To save energy, the Eiffel Tower turns off its lights earlier in the night, an example of how tourist destinations are adapting to the many pressures facing the travel industry this fall.

The iconic monument, as well as municipal buildings in Paris, are facing a mild curfew in part due to the war in Ukraine and the ongoing energy crisis in Europe. But airport disruptions and delays, as well as extreme weather conditions, will also force tourists to reconsider their destinations and, once they arrive, their itineraries.

The good news is that there are ways to limit the chaos. Here’s what you need to consider.

The heat lasts longer until the fall

Extreme weather events, many of which are caused by climate change, have been reported in some of the most popular travel destinations. There have been wildfires in Greater London and a “monster” fire near Bordeaux, France, the most visited country in the world. The fire first decimated the region in July, reignited in August, and then again last week. Forget “winter is coming” – climate change has arrived and will only get worse.

As the heat lasts longer, the idea of ​​an autumn trip may seem more appealing. Just a few weeks ago, tourists found themselves snapping photos of wildfire flames with ancient buildings in Europe. One of the most defining images on television in July was the burnt-out campsite at the foot of the Dune de Pilat, Europe’s largest sand dune – abandoned tents, a disintegrating diving board, campers evacuated, ashes everywhere.

Travelers have also been hesitant to navigate nightmarish scenarios of cancellations, lost luggage and airport worker strikes, and many have postponed trips due to rising costs and inflation.

More people are also able to work more flexibly since the pandemic, and add to that cheaper airfares (but not as cheap as before the pandemic), and you have a summer season prolonged.

But here are some tips travelers can think of to help ease the chaos, whether it’s adapting activities or locations.

Expect the best, but plan for the worst

With so many issues affecting travel this fall, it makes sense to think about altering travel plans to minimize the inevitable disruptions and government responses to those disruptions:

  • Look for low-power options. The cost of electricity is rising at alarming rates in the United States and Europe, so the price of air conditioning and swimming pools can quickly add up. Follow the lead of many Europeans if you book long-haul stays – book rentals in countries where electricity bill prices are currently capped (France being an example). This might make the cost cheaper if you pay the bills yourself, but it will also reduce prices for landlords managing rentals.
  • Rethinking activities around water. Be aware of the prohibitions that are in place to manage water consumption (an empty pool is not as fun as a full pool, especially if you paid more for it). France, for example, currently bans people from filling their private pools and is considering closing public pools. Check water levels in lakes and rivers if you plan on hiking or wild swimming – even canoe and pedal boat rentals could be affected. Conversations are taking place across Europe about the morality of allowing golf courses to remain open when they use so much water.
  • Reconsider evening activities. While the night lights are off in tourist towns, will nighttime walks still have the same appeal? Paris and other major cities in France are now turning off the lights in all public buildings from the end of September.
  • Have backup plans for alternate transportation. Extreme heat can mean that travel will be disrupted. As reported in The New York Times, planes are not allowed to operate in extreme temperatures and train tracks can warp (fueling fears in London during the summer). Have you booked changeable and/or refundable tickets? If the train breaks down, you must have other travel alternatives.
  • Consider visiting countries for different activities and outside of traditional peak times. Travel agencies that operate in Asia report that customers are less fussy about making trips based on traditional monsoon weather patterns, especially when those weather patterns turn out to be less reliable. And across Europe, some hotels are not operating annual closures but are instead organizing around different activities – moving away, for example, from kayaking holidays on increasingly unreliable waterways and moving towards wellness retreats offered throughout the year.
  • Look for new destinations (which might be cheaper). As temperatures change around the world, new destinations will become more appealing. Think about places that people have pushed aside in the past for reasons that are now more appealing. For example, look for places with breezes, near the sea or more northern destinations in Europe, once considered too cold.
  • Travel at the end of the autumn peak. For years, savvy travelers from the south of France have been heading there in April/May or September/October, when all the tourists have left each other, the weather is nicer and the Mediterranean heat (and its prices) less intense. But it’s increasingly true that it’s not just beneficial to travel at times that were once seen off the peak – it’s now crucial. This means that prices increase throughout the fall and the traditional high season now lasts longer.
  • The New York Times reported that hotels from London, England to Jackson, Wyoming are reporting huge spikes in fall bookings, even though prices could be twice as high as 2019 – many hotels are maintaining high rates until at least November. Similarly, Jonathan Farrington, executive director of the Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau has noticed a big change at Yosemite National Park in Northern California. “The shoulder seasons are disappearing and the peak seasons are no longer at their peak,” he said. The temperature. “April to November is a season.” This means that it will be pay to visit at the end of this period.
  • Keep up to date with news from your destination country. As the climate and energy situation becomes increasingly difficult, governments will be forced to act. In France, there are nightly conversations on news shows discussing the banning of personal swimming pools in the future. President Macron has asked his government for a working solution to reduce the number of private jets. Something has to give, and even the French public, according to an August 23 poll, agrees that climate change is France’s second biggest problem after inflation. All of these factors can impact the travel plans you want to book this season.

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