Peak Week, Summer Holiday Juggling Act (05.08.18)

News of earthquakes, fires, floods, heatwaves, pugnacious politics and a plane and train crash has dominated our first peak-week summer 2018 holiday season.

As schools break out for summer, the early peak period has been coloured by an unusually high mix of challenges for travel organisers. The resolve of many of our clients, local travel industry colleagues and staff has been tested.

For example, the earthquake in Lombok struck during the busiest holiday period, directly affecting tourists on the island, with particular concerns for those climbing the popular, yet demanding, Mount Rinjani (3,726m). Thankfully we at Nomadic Thoughts were able quickly to locate our Indonesia-visiting clients and ascertain that they were safe.

On the other side of the planet we have had travellers affected this week by numerous forest fires. This has resulted in travel itineraries being re-drawn to safer ground as national parks such as Yosemite close.

The heatwave in Europe also continues to impact on travel plans, with the wildfire images from Greece highlighting how quickly problems can escalate for locals as well as tourists. Indeed, the current European heatwave has called for altered plans on many of our peak-August holiday itineraries, especially with continued fire safety issues in Portugal, Spain, Sicily and Turkey.

On a more widespread level we have had to monitor, and in several cases totally re-arrange, client travel plans as record summer temperatures make itineraries unworkable. Imagine visiting busy cities or walking offbeat trails in record-smashing 45C temperatures!

This week’s recent Laos dam collapse flooding also had us checking client movements.

Politics has shown its hand too – with safari itineraries reworked during this week’s election in Zimbabwe. Furthermore, we have been aware how forward-looking travel plans need to be worded when including Taiwan, which Beijing authorities now insist should not be referred to as a non-Chinese territory.

Thankfully this week’s train and plane crashes caused no fatalities, although the Machu Picchu train crash did affect several Nomadic Thoughts client itineraries that were scheduled to travel on the same day. This week we also read about the remarkable story of Aeromexico flight AM2431, crashing en route to Mexico City. And just for good measure the ever-rumbling Popocatepetl volcano threatened clients’ plans to fly into Mexico City.

The juggling act of being a multi-destination travel organiser (responsible for a mix of international destination travel itineraries), and the smooth delivery of pre-planned holiday itineraries continues to be an entertaining challenge, especially during the over-stretched peak summer holiday period.

It could be worse. As a tour operator we very, very occasionally contract Ryan Air for client travel arrangements. We are just thankful that it is so rare, since they are continuing to cancel an unprecedented number of flights, throwing hundreds of thousands of pre-booked travel plans into chaos. Civil Aviation Authority compensation claims appear to be unusually busy presently.