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Traveling Trends for 2013, and a Look Ahead to 2014

Want to make a phone call while in mid-air? Well this past year some companies, including Virgin Airlines, gave the green light for travelers to do just that.

This was just one major change seen in the travel world in 2013. And besides making calls, travelers were also increasingly using their cell phones to book travel packages, according to Hotwire.com.

“The biggest trend we’ve noticed during 2013 is that travelers are becoming increasingly comfortable with planning, researching and booking trips on mobile devices last minute,” Pierre-Etienne Chartier, VP of Hotwire, says in an email message. “We saw our mobile bookings increase more than 60%.”

But whether it was booking last minute or planning ahead, U.S. travelers certainly spent this past year on vacations. American travelers spent $754 billion on travel both domestically and internationally in 2013, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Industry experts say that luxury travel packages, including high-end hotels and first class airline tickets accounted for a solid chunk of spending.

Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders, said destination market travel was a major trend in 2013. This is the hiring of local tour operators to customize packages for travelers in hotspots like Europe.

“Amenity components in the luxury sector are being valued by a highly selective group of people, and the service levels at upscale hotels and cruise lines are noticeably different,” he said. “More and more people want highly-customized vacations. It’s more expensive, but it is worth it.”

Another area American travelers spent cash this year was river cruising, Block says, especially in Europe. These are high-end ships with around 160 people on them total, and which dock to offer escorted tours in different locales.

“It’s a relaxing way to see parts of Europe,” Block says.

Domestic hotspots included Orlando, New York, Hawaii, Las Vegas and San Francisco, Block says. Chartier says Hotwire also found mainstay locations to be popular among travelers due to travel deals being offered over the past year.

“Warmer destinations like Orlando and Los Angeles remained popular to travelers by keeping prices low throughout the year, even during some times when prices generally spike,” Chartier says. “We also noticed a rise in the popularity of quirkier U.S. cities like Portland and Austin, which offer fresh culinary experiences, spectacular outdoor attractions and one-of-a-kind cultural events.”

International locations that topped the list this year for American travelers included Europe, specifically London and Rome, along with Cancun and the Caribbean for cruising, Block says.

In 2014, the U.S. Travel Association says Americans will spend even more cash skipping town, with $789 billion spent on both international and domestic travel.

Chartier predicts mobile will continue to be a major trend among travelers in the next year. And, historically popular destinations will continue to top the list of travel hotspots.

“Domestically, popular destinations like Washington, D.C., and Chicago will be offering great prices due to new hotels being built in both cities,” Chartier says. “Internationally, cities like London, Amsterdam and Barcelona are also expected to offer compelling deals in the coming year, which will make these European getaways more irresistible than ever.”

Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews

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