Why it's smart to travel during a recession

Recently, when I tell people I work in the travel industry, they give me a pat on the back and ask if I’ve applied for unemployment yet. What I tell them surprises them as much as it’s been surprising me: people are still traveling, even during a recession. After all, there are some really excellent reasons to travel– even if the economic news is disheartening or scary. Here are the reasons I give for why international travel hasn’t completely dried up, and why more people should travel during a recession:

1. More Deals Than You Can Shake a Stick At: Once out-of-reach destinations may be more reasonable with reduced airfares, hotel rooms and tours. Also, you can feel a little bolder asking for deals, even if they’re not advertised. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t push for an unreasonably low price; after all, the tour guides still need to feed their families too.

2. No More Lines: If you’ve been avoiding traditional destinations for fear of the Disneyland crowds, this is your year to travel. It’s easier than ever to find a deserted beach in Costa Rica or hike the Inca Trail without seeing another group of hikers for days.

3. Supporting Local Economies, securing jobs: According to world tourism experts (specifically the World Travel and Tourism Council), the international tourism industry is expected to shrink 3.5% by the end of 2009 and 10 million jobs related to tourism will be lost worldwide by December 2010. If you think taking a vacation is selfish, remind yourself that you’ll be providing work for folks that need it. If you want to make sure your valuable travel dollars are going to the right places, make sure your trip is being provided by a reputable local operator that pays a fair wage to all its employees.

4. We’re Rethinking Value: When money starts to get tight, we begin considering what’s truly important and spend a little more wisely. We’re looking for things give us real value, like more time with family or memorable experiences. I don’t think most people cherish the memory of using a spiffy new iphone, but we remember that surfing trip we took with our best friend or that unexpectedly beautiful hike in a new country.

So while the global economic outlook isn’t sunny, there are still many good reasons to travel and it may even be the best time to do so.