2012 was the year the economy was supposed to head back to full steam, gas prices would hold steady, and vacation and luxury travel, long-deferred, would return to the harried summer and fall schedule of the harried American middle class. Well – it hasn’t so much worked out that way. With the arab spring spiking gas prices and a lackluster job market depressing the U.S. economy, average vacationers continue to be parsimonious with their hard-earned travel dollars.
To hardy souls seeking weekend getaways and longer vacation travel, 2012 is a terrific time to plan an escape from the ordinary routine. New social media sites are offering amazing rates on top hotels, promotional airfares, if you look for them, can be had for destinations as wide-ranging as Spokane, Washington – gateway to Glacier National Park – all the way to Playa Del Carmen and Tulum on the Mexican Riviera. In between lie many opportunities for great travel experiences – whether close to home or very far afield.
Below, find a by-no-means-comprehensive list of 10 great 2012 travel ideas for this year – and beyond. We hope your imagination and desire to escape from home for awhile will inform your reading.
1. Take a hike – a big hike: On the West Coast the Pacific Coast Trail spans 3000 mile from Canada to Mexico – but you can hike or backpack small portions of it. The adventure is affordable and breathtakingly beautiful. On the East Coast – the better known Appalachian trail serves the same purpose.
2. Check into a Cosmopolitan bargain in New York City: Slightly intrepid about accomodations? Stay in Manhattan in homey surroundings for half the price. Look for a short-term rental on Craigslist and leave the hotel drudgery behind.
3. Channel Kerouac on a secret rideshare cross-country: This on-the-down-low adventure opportunity is so secret we can’t link to it here. Google around and ask your friends. It’ll be worthwhile.
4. Take a last minute air deal to Cabo San Lucas: Check Travelocity and the other big aggregators often. Cabo always seems to be selling at a discount.
5. Mexico in general remains a good deal: Hey – your statistically more likely to be struck by lightning than to be kidnapped by a malicious drug cartel. But don’t tell that to the ignorant masses who fearfully have cut Mexico out of their tourism plans!
6. See the glaciers before they melt: Plan on being there in the next 1-5 years in Glacier National Park or several Canadian spots. The glaciers are on there way out and we won’t see them again – perhaps for the rest of human history. What are you waiting for. Visit Spirit airlines website for provocative bargains.
7. Sample the Best of The Midwest: Are you a jaded coastal dweller looking for friendly, smart urban neighborhoods and nightlife at 1/3 of the cost of New York or Los Angeles? Get over yourself and book a great boutique hotel in a cool neighborhood in St. Louis, Minneapolis, or Nashville. It doesn’t matter where — you need a change of scenery.
8. Take your pet, it’s now more of a sure bet: These days a ton of upper crust accommodations are offering special amenities for your pet. It’s now possible to plan an entire getaway around your pooch. And let’s face it. That’s no more indulgently irrational than planning your precious yearly escape from the office around your demanding ungrateful tween children.
9. Be sure your frequent flier miles don’t expire: While you’re doing your yearly vacation planning, take an hour or two and be sure your logins are up to date and your expirations are safely in the future. To keep expirations current, you can consider rolling in any one of the many co-promotions the airlines offer with restaurants, retail stores, etc… Just by dining out at a variety of restaurants, you can keep your American Airlines account current, for example.
10. Read offline a little more often: Some of the best travel ideas don’t come from the web. Just this year we got great suggestions from Elizabeth Gilbert’s the last American Man; the canon of Bill Bryson; the food writing of Bill Buford, and the real-life Forrest Gump guy that walked across America in the 1970s.
Most of all – be persistent in your research and joyous in your actual travel. In generating your own 2012 travel ideas, we suggest casting aside minor annoyance and focusing on the real enjoyment of getting away to someplace exciting.