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The Past Ten Years of Travel

What a difference a decade makes.

I recently celebrated my 35th birthday, and the nostalgia of the occasion got me to thinking about what my life was like a decade ago. The differences are striking.

I did a ton of traveling in 2006, including numerous research trips to destinations around the United States. The highlights, though, were a memorable cruise to Alaska (an amazing state that I have visited several times since) and a long tour of Jordan — both the sorts of destinations that many people dream about visiting once in a lifetime. I was fortunate to take both trips within a few months of each other.

Today my travel schedule is much different. I still get out on the road a lot because working in the tourism industry makes periodic travel a fact of life. But my trips tend to be shorter and more focused in nature. Gone are the days of 10-day tours to exotic parts of the world. Instead, my calendar is full of two- and three-day trips to attend conferences, speak to industry groups and cover business events. I might squeeze in time to do research trips to one or two destinations a year — much less than the dozen or so I was doing a decade ago.

Some of the change in my travel schedule has to do with the evolution of my role at the company, which has changed a lot over 12 years. But just as much of it is linked to changes in my personal life. In 2006, I was 25 and single. I could drop everything and hit the road at a moment’s notice — and I frequently did. Now, 10 years later, I am married with two children — a 2-year-old girl and a 2-month-old boy — and leaving the family more than a few days at a time is difficult for all of us.

And it’s not just my life that has changed in the past decade: The world has changed pretty drastically around us. The iPhone didn’t yet exist in 2006; it debuted in 2007. The revolution of mobile technology that it sparked has changed a lot about how we work, play and travel. Social media has thoroughly altered the landscape of human interactions and even how we view current events. The economy crashed hard in 2008, and the subsequent recovery has been slow and belabored. And political and cultural shifts have made a dramatic impact on America in the past decade.

The point I’m leading to is this: I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, and your travelers aren’t either. The world in which we buy, sell and plan travel has changed vastly over the past decade. And if we’re not changing with it, we are doomed to obsolescence.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.