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April 26, 2013

STAWAR: Vacation planning: Then and now

(Continued)

People who were too wealthy and busy to figure out their own route belonged to fancy automobile clubs, who would do it for them, and then mail back detailed maps with the route highlighted in yellow.

Of course, the best source of travel information came from word-of-mouth. The skilled vacation planner was constantly alert to such recommendations and hints. This required not only sifting through countless conversations, but also judging the credibility and accuracy of the informant. You also never knew where you might run across something important. Diane, for example, learned about a quaint log cabin near the Smoky Mountains for rent at a dental appointment. Too bad the homemade brochure didn’t mention that the cabin was considered to be haunted.

Today’s vacation planning consist mostly of viewing various websites, including the online travel oriented ones like Travelocity and Orbitz, lodging sites like Hotel.com, Airbnb.com and HomeAway.com, as well as specific websites for parks, attractions or resorts. 

Diane does most of the actual trip-planning while I serve mainly as a technical consultant and occasionally look up restaurants and search for coupons and discounts at our destination. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 80 percent of travel decisions are made by women. Other gender differences in vacation planning are noted in a survey by HomeAway.com. For example, the average woman takes 10 pair of underwear for a one-week trip, while the average man takes only three. The average woman also packs about 18 different outfits and wears about 10. 

Today’s travel planner is also confronted with an added challenge — entomophobia, or more simply the fear of bedbugs. In the past, this wasn’t such a big issue thanks to the widespread proliferation of DDT. While those pesky environmentalists may have prevented the contamination of our water supply, they have also thrown every potential vacation lodging under suspicion. 

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