What Do Americans Want in a European Vacation? Fewer Americans | Kanebridge News
Kanebridge News
Share Button

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?’ ”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
Italy, Land of Uncollected Garbage, Combines Running With Trash Pickup
By ERIC SYLVERS 04/10/2023
Jean Arnault Has New Goals for Louis Vuitton Watches. Profit Isn’t One of Them.
By NICK KOSTOV 03/10/2023
Love Patterns? Try This Design Trick to Pull Any Room Together
By KATE MORGAN 02/10/2023
Italy, Land of Uncollected Garbage, Combines Running With Trash Pickup

At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

Wed, Oct 4, 2023 4 min

GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
Claude Monet Water Lily Painting, Never Shown Publicly, Could Fetch at Least $65 Million
By ABBY SCHULTZ 01/10/2023
More loss, less profit for short term property holders
Italy, Land of Uncollected Garbage, Combines Running With Trash Pickup
By ERIC SYLVERS 04/10/2023
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop