Well, 2014 is just about in the books. What does 2015 hold for travel? Here are my thoughts about where travel is... um... traveling going forward into the new year.
1. Free Wifi
We've seen announcements from Marriott, Hyatt, and SPG regarding free wifi for guests insome way, shape or form in 2015. Additionally, the American Express Platinum Cardadded free Boingo Wifi in 2014, and is adding Gogo in-flight wifi passes to its list of benefits in 2015.
2. Harder Upgrades
With United and Delta moving to a revenue-based loyalty system, it will be harder to earn status in those programs in 2015. "Mileage Runs" are no longer a possibility in those programs, as you must spend a certain amount with them to reap benefits. As a business traveler whose company pays for their traveler, this won't affect you as much as the leisure traveler (or simple travel hacker trying to travel the world for free).
American Airlines is now the last major legacy carrier in the States to offer status based on miles flown only, but when they merge programs with US Airways in 2015, there will be many more elites in their system, making it a bit harder for first class upgrades. Still, it's better than having to spend a certain amount of money to have that privilege!
3. A Stronger Dollar
The United States is experiencing a strengthening of its dollar as other central banks around the world devalue their currencies to stay competitive in our global marketplace. This means different things for different industries, but for international travelers from America spending money with dollars, this is a good thing! Countries that I've lived in, like Argentina, will becoming even more cheaper than they already are for the average American. In 2013, I was eating a filet mignon at lunch for less than $7 in Buenos Aires. Prices have dropped even more since, a combination of our dollar strengthening and their currency weakening.
4. New Destinations
I love traveling to familiar, popular cities, but I also love finding an untouched destination that I can keep a secret to myself. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more difficult, as international travel becomes easier and more popular for my wanderlusting fellow Millennials.
2015, I fear, is the year that Americans discover Colombia. JetBlue has started flying there in recent years, and as a result more and more Americans are discovering a paradise that is no longer overrun with violence and drug running. I've spent a month and a half there in 2014, and some of the nicest people on earth live there, with great beaches, jungles, and cities. It's only a matter of time before the secret is out.
5. More Local, Shared Experiences
This article from CNN identifies more advances in the "shareable" economy that's expanding nowadays. Localized meals, more home-stay opportunities, and better access to authentic experiences are all a result of better technology and it finding the entrepreneurial hands of those abroad.
What are your plans for 2015? Any destinations that you had never heard of that you would like to visit?