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A 2017 Guide To Travel Trends, In Case You Need A Holiday Already

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

If you've just returned home from holiday travel, isn't it about time to start planning your next vacation? Will 2017 be the year of cheap flights or the perfect driving vacation? To answer these questions and tell us how to take advantage of the travel trends of 2017, we're joined by Pauline Frommer, editorial director at frommers.com. Hey, Pauline.

PAULINE FROMMER: Hey. Nice to be here. Thank you so much.

CHANG: Thanks for being with us. Well, let's start with air travel. Are there any big trends or changes to expect this year? And the crucial question - are airfares going to go up or down?

FROMMER: Well, that depends on how you define an airfare. A lot of the airlines right now are spending millions of dollars to change their back-end systems so that they can better give you a menu of options when you book travel 'cause they want to be able to charge you for every little thing.

CHANG: Yeah.

FROMMER: So whereas airfares, especially international ones, are definitely going down, air add-ons are going up. For example, United and Delta now have something called basic economy fares. These are fares where, on United, you will be charged extra if you try to put anything in the overhead compartment.

CHANG: Really?

FROMMER: Yes. These are ugly, ugly fares. You don't ever get to choose a seat. So you're pretty much going to get the middle seat. If you have to change your date, you don't get to pay extra. You just lose the entire cost of the ticket. So these are basic economy fares. And, sadly, they only cost about $25 less on average than regular fares. And that's how much it costs for you to check a bag. And most of these fares won't allow you to bring a bag into a cabin. So you can do the math. It's a little tricky what the airlines are pulling on us for 2017.

CHANG: What about where we stay when we're on vacation? How will that change this year? Like, will we see a growth in Airbnb-style-type companies?

FROMMER: We are seeing an explosion in nontraditional lodgings like Airbnb. Airbnb has more beds than all of the major hotel chains combined. What's changing is the hosts used to be a retiree or a teacher or somebody who needed to make extra money. And it was a side business. Now 40 percent of the hosts do this for a living.

CHANG: Wow.

FROMMER: So Airbnb is getting a lot less quirky.

CHANG: Are hotels getting into apartment rentals to compete with Airbnb?

FROMMER: They are. And I think this is going to be the big change that we see in 2017, 2018. A company called Room Mate - they're are hotel company. And they have started a company called Be Mate, where you stay in an apartment near the hotel. And you get all the services that the hotel offers.

You get to use the pool and the fitness room. You get daily maid service. But you don't have to stay in the hotel. You stay in an apartment. You have your own kitchen. You have much more space. But you have all of the efficiencies - you can pick up your key any time - of staying at a hotel.

CHANG: And for those of us who are fantasizing about where our next trip is going to be, like me, where are the best destinations for the budget traveler in 2017?

FROMMER: Well, the dollar is whooping...

CHANG: (Laughter).

FROMMER: ...Pretty much every other world currency. So if you've ever wanted to go to Europe, now's the time to go. We note that travel to Paris is down 30 percent.

CHANG: Wow.

FROMMER: It's just a golden time to go to France or to most anywhere else in Europe that's on the euro - but the same for Canada. And this year is Canada's 150th anniversary. So there's going to be all kinds of special events. Montreal is going crazy because it's also their 375th anniversary. And they're the home of Cirque du Soleil. So they are going to have the wackiest, most creative festivals.

CHANG: (Laughter).

FROMMER: And all of the national parks in Canada are free in 2017.

CHANG: Pauline Frommer of frommers.com and Frommer's Guidebooks, thank you so much for being with us. And Happy New Year.

FROMMER: Happy New Year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.