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Travel Talk

Travel Talk: Your travel guide for 2014

Chase Binder

Chase Binder

Here we are at the end of 2013, and pundits have started to share their predictions for what 2014 will bring to the world of travel. From mainstream Conde Nast to more obscure travel industry newsletters, opinions differ a bit – but there is also a lot of agreement.

Prices: There’s a tentative thought out there that airfare prices might be seeing a downward trend. Why? Economies of scale and introductory pricing surrounding the American Airlines-US Airways merger is one thought. An extension of that is that fare wars might be on the horizon should passengers appear to react to “special” lower fares.

That being said, I have little hope that airlines will forego the many fees that are now the industry norm: checked bags, snacks, pillows and blankets, access to “desirable” seats (i.e. almost any seat not in the middle) and more. In fact, getting to the actual price for your family to fly will be increasingly difficult.

Begin your cost analysis by downloading the fee comparison chart at smartertravel.com to get the lay of the land for the top 14 domestic carriers, then track fares for your itinerary on a site such as airfarewatchdog.com. If you haven’t flown for a while, you may experience a bit of sticker shock, but it’s important to do the math before you book, especially if you’re flying with your family. Fees can add up quickly.

Themes: The travel industry is quick to respond to emerging trends, and a big trend over the past couple of years is the focus on food.

Foodies are everywhere and ever willing to share a new find – or a disappointment! Social media makes it really easy to post reviews, complete with pictures. Heck, Bud and I did it ourselves just after Concord’s El Rodeo opened (el-rodeo-nh.com, 22 Loudon Road, 224-9600) – we loved the outside tables and homemade Mexican fare.

The travel industry has hopped onboard with culinary-based tours. How about a tour of Tuscany built around cooking classes? That idea has been around for a few years, but now you can book similar tours in the United States, with many focused on local fare and often including wine and local vineyard tours. Begin at foodreference.com, which lists tours around the world, or delve into websites, such as classicjourneys.com, that have special sections on culinary tours. Google is also a great tool – start with the type of food you hanker after and the area of the country (or world) you’d like to visit. Visit spaintaste.com for Spain, sixtaste.com for the Los Angeles area, or charlestonculinarytours.com for a southern venue.

You yourself can create a tour around a restaurant such as Boston’s Elephant Walk (elephantwalk.com, 900 Beacon St., 617-247-1500 for details), which offers a variety of classes (we’ve done them – superb!) centered on their Cambodian-French fusion cuisine. Then find a local bed and breakfast, and there you have it!

Destinations: Destinations are just as trendy as food. One year everyone’s buzzing about France, the next year, not so much. Part of “trendiness” tracks along with world events, especially sporting event like the World Cup, which has the travel industry buzzing about all of South America – not just Brazil, where the games happen. Google your favorite South American country. We love Chile and highly recommend the wine country above Santiago, especially the seaside village of Vina del Mar and the wonderful Hotel del Mar & Casino (vinadelmar.com/hotel-del-mar).

Another factor is supply and demand (or demand and supply!). European river cruise companies are launching 25 new boats in 2014. They are elegant, comfortable and increasingly all-inclusive. Try vikingrivercruises.com, uniworld.com or amawaterways.com.

(Chase Binder lives in Bow. Read her blog at travelswithchase.blogspot.com.)

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