What Do Americans Want in a European Vacation? Fewer Americans
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What Do Americans Want in a European Vacation? Fewer Americans

As the hottest spots get overrun with U.S. tourists, some visitors plan vacations to new countries and regions

Tue, Apr 18, 2023 8:18amGrey Clock 4 min

For some U.S. travellers, this summer’s hottest European destination is one without other Americans.

American tourists mobbed Europe last year, and 2023 is looking even busier, travel advisers say. Reservations for European trips rose 8% over last summer, according to data from Hopper, a travel app. Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said last week that 75% of seats on the carrier’s international flights this summer are already booked, even with added flights and seats.

Searches for round-trip flights to perennially popular cities such as Milan and London have increased over the past year, according to data from Skyscanner, a travel-search site. Also rising are searches for relatively obscure destinations such as Split, Croatia (up 73%), and Tirana, Albania (up 57%). The biggest gainer over the past year? Oslo, Norway, with a 307% increase in Skyscanner searches.

Airfares remain expensive, with the most recent consumer-price index for airline tickets up nearly 18% compared with a year earlier. Finding a hotel room in major destinations such as Barcelona or Rome—let alone an affordable one—takes serious work, travel advisers say.

Some travellers are instead looking to less-well-visited regions such as the Balkans and other corners of Eastern Europe. That is partly because of cost and partly because these tourists have already been to Paris and London, travel pros say.

Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO of New York-based travel company Indagare, says people who visited Europe last summer are leading the push toward these new destinations.

These travellers sought out tried-and-true destinations last year, she says, when they were resuming international travel as pandemic restrictions eased. After being isolated for so long, they weren’t scared off by the size of the crowds. The composition of the crowds was another matter.

“In a lot of the great resorts in Europe, people were just surrounded by other Americans,” Mrs. Bradley says.

Travellers also encountered large-scale problems with luggage at big airports and issues with service at understaffed hotels in major cities.

Erin Thibeau, a 31-year-old marketing manager who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., chose to visit Lisbon for her first European trip last year, since it was familiar.

“I knew I would have a really lovely time, and I could navigate around pretty easily,” she says.

Ms. Thibeau says she is seeking out places where she is “not one of countless Americans.” So she chose the country of Georgia for her next Euro trip, hoping it would offer more interaction with locals. Ms. Thibeau plans to use the capital, Tbilisi, as a base to tour the country, visiting wineries and monasteries.

Travel professionals say many clients are seeking places that closely resemble popular destinations. Albania has grown popular as a spot for Adriatic Sea vacations similar to what one might experience in nearby Croatia, says Laura Lindsay, travel trends and destinations specialist at Skyscanner.

Other substitute destinations: Slovenia for those considering vacations to Italy, and northern mainland Greece or Turkey as a swap for the Greek Isles.

It doesn’t take long for an under-the-radar destination to become a hot spot. Mrs. Bradley sent many people to Sicily last year because it had availability when the Amalfi Coast and Venice didn’t. The popularity of the HBO series “The White Lotus” has made Sicily an in-demand location this summer.

Now, she says she recommends Mediterranean islands such as Corsica and Sardinia, or regions of mainland Italy, such as Puglia.

Venturing to less-traveled parts of Europe comes with trade-offs. Major tourism hubs such as Paris or Rome have more lodging options and expansive transit networks, as well as plenty of English speakers at hotels, restaurants and shops.

For tourists, “the key there is how comfortable they are in a destination where English is going to be a bit more of a challenge for some of the locals,” says Mike Salvadore, owner and co-president of 58 Stars Travel, a luxury travel agency based in Seattle.

Going to a place such as Romania or Malta might not save much money, because direct flights can be rare, and connections take time.

Food and activities often will cost less in these regions, but hotels might not be much of a bargain. Average daily rates for hotels have risen by more than a third compared with last year in Turkey, North Macedonia and Bulgaria, among others, according to preliminary March data from hospitality analytics company STR. Apart from high demand, inflation has driven those prices higher across much of Europe.

Teressa Steinbach, a 44-year-old mother of two from Louisville, Ky., is set to venture with her family to Europe in June for her daughters’ first visit to the continent.

The family had originally planned to visit friends in Italy, an itinerary that would have cost them around $20,000, but the trip didn’t pan out, Mrs. Steinbach says.

Instead, they are taking a 10-day trip to Split, with jaunts planned to other parts of Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mrs. Steinbach has tapped Facebook groups dedicated to Croatian travel for advice. Locals and past visitors have suggested a boat ride to the island of Brač, with its white-pebble beaches, and rafting down the Cetina river.

The Croatian vacation is hardly a bargain. Round-trip flights in premium-economy class will cost the family of four around $11,000, while their hotel will add around $6,000, she says.

It has proved a tougher sell for her daughters, ages 7 and 11, whose classmates traveled to France over spring break, Mrs. Steinbach says.

“My oldest said, ‘I’m going to lie and say that we went to Italy,’ ” she says. “She was like, ‘Who goes to Croatia?’ ”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realise

We all get mad now and then. But too much anger can cause problems.

Fri, May 24, 2024 3 min

Anger is bad for your health in more ways than you think.

Getting angry doesn’t just hurt our mental health , it’s also damaging to our hearts, brains and gastrointestinal systems, according to doctors and recent research. Of course, it’s a normal emotion that everyone feels—few of us stay serene when a driver cuts us off or a boss makes us stay late. But getting mad too often or for too long can cause problems.

There are ways to keep your anger from doing too much damage. Techniques like meditation can help, as can learning to express your anger in healthier ways.

One recent study looked at anger’s effects on the heart. It found that anger can raise the risk of heart attacks because it impairs the functioning of blood vessels, according to a May study in the Journal of the American Heart Association .

Researchers examined the impact of three different emotions on the heart: anger, anxiety and sadness. One participant group did a task that made them angry, another did a task that made them anxious, while a third did an exercise designed to induce sadness.

The scientists then tested the functioning of the blood vessels in each participant, using a blood pressure cuff to squeeze and release the blood flow in the arm. Those in the angry group had worse blood flow than those in the others; their blood vessels didn’t dilate as much.

“We speculate over time if you’re getting these chronic insults to your arteries because you get angry a lot, that will leave you at risk for having heart disease ,” says Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

Your gastrointestinal system

Doctors are also gaining a better understanding of how anger affects your GI system.

When someone becomes angry, the body produces numerous proteins and hormones that increase inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can raise your risk of many diseases.

The body’s sympathetic nervous system—or “fight or flight” system—is also activated, which shunts blood away from the gut to major muscles, says Stephen Lupe, director of behavioural medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s department of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. This slows down movement in the GI tract, which can lead to problems like constipation.

In addition, the space in between cells in the lining of the intestines opens up, which allows more food and waste to go in those gaps, creating more inflammation that can fuel symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating or constipation.

Your brain

Anger can harm our cognitive functioning, says Joyce Tam, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It involves the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, the front area of our brain that can affect attention, cognitive control and our ability to regulate emotions.

Anger can trigger the body to release stress hormones into the bloodstream. High levels of stress hormones can damage nerve cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, says Tam.

Damage in the prefrontal cortex can affect decision-making, attention and executive function, she adds.

The hippocampus, meanwhile, is the main part of the brain used in memory. So when neurons are damaged, that can disrupt the ability to learn and retain information, says Tam.

What you can do about it

First, figure out if you’re angry too much or too often. There’s no hard and fast rule. But you may have cause for concern if you’re angry for more days than not, or for large portions of the day, says Antonia Seligowski, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who studies the brain-heart connection.

Getting mad briefly is different than experiencing chronic anger, she says.

“If you have an angry conversation every now and again or you get upset every now and again, that’s within the normal human experience,” she says. “When a negative emotion is prolonged, when you’re really having a lot more of it and maybe more intensely, that’s where it’s bad for your health.”

Try mental-health exercises. Her group is looking at whether mental-health treatments, like certain types of talk therapy or breathing exercises, may also be able to improve some of the physical problems caused by anger.

Other doctors recommend anger-management strategies. Hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness can help, says the Cleveland Clinic’s Lupe. So too can changing the way you respond to anger.

Slow down your reactions. Try to notice how you feel and slow down your response, and then learn to express it. You also want to make sure you’re not suppressing the feeling, as that can backfire and exacerbate the emotion.

Instead of yelling at a family member when you’re angry or slamming something down, say, “I am angry because X, Y and Z, and therefore I don’t feel like eating with you or I need a hug or support,” suggests Lupe.

“Slow the process down,” he says.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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