Since just about every travel publication tries to predict – or, more accurately, tries to convince you – where you’ll go in the New Year, clarknorton.com is no exception.
Here are my predictions for what will be the three hottest destinations for Americans in 2017:
* CANADA – Approximately half the population of the United Sates says they expect to visit Canada in 2017, according to recent surveys, and many say they are planning extended visits of from four to eight years. Interest is particularly strong among residents of the western and northeastern coastal areas, as well as pockets of travelers from the Midwest and Virginia.
Perhaps surprisingly, Canada will apparently be inundated with U.S. visitors at the coldest time of year, in late January. And despite the advice of experts to “pack light’ when traveling internationally, many American travelers to Canada say they will be carrying entire closets full of clothing as well as their own beds and living room furniture – assuming they can fit them into the airlines’ overhead compartments or under the seats in front of them.
For their part, Canadians are ambivalent about the expected influx of visitors from the south. “I have nothing against Americans,” said one Vancouver resident, “but I don’t know that I want 150 million of them living next door, eh?” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised “severe vetting” of American tourists carrying significant amounts of kitchen appliances for their extended holiday, and suggests that Nunavut is a perfectly nice place to visit in winter.
Highlights not to miss: Polar bears, poutine (French fries smothered with gravy and cheese curds), afternoon tea at the Empress, Alberta oil fields (for protests).
What to Pack: Refrigerators, woolies, beloved pets, Canadian dictionaries.
* RUSSIA – The heart of the former Soviet Union has enjoyed a surprising resurgence in popularity among residents of so-called “Red States” across the U.S., as the incoming administration stacks its Cabinet and key advisers with “Pals of Putin,” as they’re affectionately known in Trump Tower.
This portends a rosy future for tourism to the appropriately named Red Square in Moscow and other Russian destinations, including the Crimean Peninsula, recently annexed from Ukraine. Alabama and Oklahoma travel agents, among others, report that Black Sea cruise bookings have mushroomed since early November. “Everyone wants to embrace our new Russian allies,” noted one Tulsa-based agent. “We also expect renewed interest in the Baltic States and maybe even Bulgaria as Putin looks to broaden his sights.”
On the domestic travel front, the Putin obsession has grown so strong that a comparatively obscure Lake Erie resort town, Put-In Bay, Ohio, has suddenly skyrocketed to national prominence, with non-stop flights being added from Topeka, Kansas, and Boise, Idaho, among others.
Highlights not to miss: “Crimea River” cruises, Putin workout videos, Siberia, borscht.
What to pack: Moscow subway map, woolies, Tolstoy novels (for long days at sea), new passwords for hacked computers.
* CUBA – Americans are hot to go to Cuba, especially to see the classic 1950s-era Chevys and other vintage American cars still cruising the streets of Havana and beyond.
U.S. airlines and U.S.-based cruise lines have responded by scheduling flights and voyages to the once-forbidden island, and bookings are strong. The outlook is clouded, though, by uncertainty over how the new administration will deal with the Obama Administration’s loosening of restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba.
“Everyone is taking a wait-and-see attitude,” says one cruise line executive. “What will Trump tweet next? And will he go more than 140 characters? It’s got us all on edge.”
As for now, Americans can travel freely to Cuba as long as they pretend to be on “people-to-people” missions and promise not to go to the beach or have too much fun during their visit. “It’s all perfectly reasonable,” says a U.S. State Department official who helped write the regulations. “If you want to go to Cuba, we expect you to act like you’re in Nunavut. If you want a tan, go to St. Martin.”
Highlights not to miss: Cuban cigars, Tropicana nightclub, classic cars, mojitos.
What to pack: “Old Man and the Sea,” discreet swimwear, beano, “I voted for Hillary” T-shirts.
Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all, and may your travels see you through interesting times!