Even though it’s only been four months since spending Thanksgiving week in Vegas, Susie and I are spending a “Spring Break” this week in New Orleans and vicinity.
Maybe my slacker tendencies are gaining ascendancy because I see retirement approaching next year. After all, my high school yearbook’s senior photo had this self-selected quote below it: “Every man is, or hopes to be, an idler.”
Or, maybe I realize that after I retire, we’ll travel less, or at least not as far and so I need to travel as much as I can now while I still have some discretionary income. Or, maybe after almost 30 years in Talla-hicky, where the entire county population is less than 300,000 (compared to metro Manila‘s 11.5 million), I’m going completely bonkers and need to escape more often to remain sane. For whatever reason, this travel junkie’s fixes are only good for shorter and shorter periods.
I’ve read that some folks are not taking vacations. Some are worried about their jobs and that’s a legitimate reason to stay home. Especially since just a few weeks ago I posted about the importance of saving. But others, who can afford to travel, feel it’s “not right” to indulge in a vacation when many others are facing hardship. I don’t agree with that thinking.
First, there’s always a group of folks facing hardship even when the economy is strong. There are always homeless; always unemployed. I don’t accept that an increase in quantity necessarily translates to a qualitative difference that demands a change in behavior. That’s guilt, not logic.
Second, since results are always more important than appearances, how does staying home actually help anyone? How many jobs are created or retained by staying home? None.
The travel sector accounts for about 10 percent of the “normal” economy nationwide. That percentage is higher in the top tourist destinations, such as my own home state of Florida and my second home… Las Vegas. Travel reductions hurt these tourism dependent areas very much.
Travel sector folks are in a vulnerable situation since travel is a very discretionary activity. I read that the travel sector lost about 200,000 jobs last year and is projected to lose another 250,000 jobs this year. (The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that travel and tourism spending declined 22% in the last quarter of 2008.) Staying home won’t help the unemployed find a job but will contribute to even more job losses in the travel sector.
And the folks who work in the travel sector (hotels, restaurants, tourist stores) are often among the lowest paid to begin with. So when they lose their jobs, they have less to fall back on and will receive less in unemployment assistance. The weakness in the travel sector probably explains why travel prices dropped an average 16% in the last quarter of 2008, just as prices have dropped in many other sectors of the economy.
So that’s why I’m taking a Spring Break vacation. It’ll not only keep me from going stir crazy but I’ll also help keep some folks employed in New Orleans and the other cities we visit. And with the poor economy, I’m getting some great deals so I’m “saving” big time!
For example, in New Orleans we’re staying at the Royal St. Charles, a “boutique” hotel I’d normally avoid since the price is usually around $100. We got it for $55 and free parking, which is typically $25 a day in the tourist part of New Orleans. This is one of those “win-win” situations we often hear about but don‘t actually experience that much.
We left Saturday, spending the day in Foley (Alabama) at the outlet mall, after which some Southern comfort food and “throwed rolls”‘ at Lambert’s just down the road may be the dinner option before spending the night in Mobile. Sunday morning, we drive to New Orleans.
Wednesday we‘ll be visiting Lafayette via the Old Spanish Trail, which we did many years ago. Thursday we’re in the Mississippi Gulf Coast casino area of Biloxi /Gulfport where we’re staying at Imperial Palace for less than $50, cheaper than any of the chain hotels there. And maybe I can recoup some of the vacation costs at a poker tournament… 😉
Here’s some nice shots of Mardi Gras 2009.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!