Fall travel changes. Here’s what you need to know when making plans


Paris, the city of lights, is getting dark. To conserve energy, the Eiffel Tower turns off its lights earlier in the evening — just one example of how tourist destinations are adapting to various pressures the travel industry is facing this fall.

The iconic landmark, as well as municipal buildings in Paris, are facing a light curfew, in part due to the war in Ukraine and the ongoing energy crisis in Europe. But disruptions and delays at airports, as well as extreme weather, will also force tourists to reconsider their destination – and, once they arrive, their routes.

The good news is that there are ways to limit the chaos – here’s what to keep in mind.

Warmth lasts longer until autumn

Extreme weather events due to climate change were recorded everywhere this summer, extending the travel season well into the fall. There have been bushfires in Greater London and a ‘monster fire’ near Bordeaux, in France, the world’s number 1 visited country. The fire first decimated the area in July, flared up again in August and again last week. Forget “winter is coming” – climate change has arrived and will only get worse.

Because the heat lasts longer into autumn, a pull effect occurs. Just a few weeks ago, tourists found themselves taking pictures of forest fires along with the old buildings of Europe. One of the most defining images on TV in July was the burnt-out campsite at the foot of the Dune de Pilat, Europe’s largest sand dune – tents abandoned, diving board disintegrated, campers evacuated, ash everywhere.

Travelers have also been wary of navigating nightmare scenarios of cancellations, lost luggage and airport staff strikes, with many postponing their trips due to increased costs and inflation.

Also, since the pandemic, more people can work more flexibly, and at the same time cheaper airline tickets (although not as cheap as before the pandemic), and you have an extended summer season.

But here are some tips travelers can think of to ease the chaos, whether that means adjusting activities or locations.

Expect the best, but plan for the worst

With so many issues impacting travel this fall, it makes sense to think about changing travel plans to minimize the inevitable disruptions and government response to those disruptions:

  • Look for energy-efficient options. The cost of electricity is rising alarmingly in the US and Europe, so the price of air conditioning and swimming pools can add up quickly. Follow the examples of many Europeans when booking long distance stays – book renting in countries where the price of electricity bills is currently limited (France is one such example). This can make costs cheaper if you pay the bills yourself, but will also keep prices low for property owners who manage the rental.
  • Rethink Water Activities. Be aware of prohibitions in place to control water consumption (an empty pool is not as much fun as a full one, especially if you paid a premium for it). France, for example, currently bans people from refilling their private pools and is considering closing public pools. Check water levels in lakes and rivers if you plan on hiking or wild swimming – even canoe and pedal boat rentals can be affected. Talks are taking place across Europe about the morality of leaving golf courses open when they use so much water.
  • Rethink evening activities. Will evening walks still have the same allure if the night lights are turned off in tourist cities? Paris and other major cities in France will now turn off the lights in all public buildings from the end of September.
  • Have backup plans for alternative modes of travel. Severe heat can disrupt travel. As reported in The New York Times, planes are not allowed to operate in extreme temperatures and train tracks can collapse (the fear in London in the summer). Have you booked tickets that can be changed and/or refunded? If the train breaks down, you should have other travel alternatives.
  • Consider visiting countries for a variety of activities and outside of traditional peak times. Travel agents operating in Asia report that customers are less choosy when it comes to traveling based on traditional monsoon weather patterns, especially when those weather patterns prove to be less reliable. And across Europe, some hotels don’t have annual closures, but instead organize themselves around various activities – for example, moving away from kayaking holidays on increasingly dubious waterways and switching to wellness retreats offered year-round.
  • Find new destinations (which may be cheaper). As temperatures change around the world, new destinations become more attractive. Think of places people threw out in the past for reasons that are more appealing now. For example, look for locations with a breeze, near the sea, or more northerly destinations in Europe, which were once considered too cold.
  • Travel at the end of the peak fall. For years, savvy travelers came to the south of France in April/May or September/October, when all the tourists have left, the weather is more pleasant and the Mediterranean heat (and its prices) less intense. But it’s becoming more and more true that not only is it beneficial to travel at times once seen off-peak, it’s now critical. This means that prices will rise throughout the autumn and the traditional high season will now last longer.
  • The New York Times reported that hotels from London, England to Jackson, Wyoming, are reporting huge spikes in bookings for the fall, even though prices may be twice as high as in 2019 – so many hotels are keeping rates high until at least November. Likewise, Jonathan Farrington, executive director of Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau has noticed a major change in Northern California’s Yosemite National Park. “Shoulder seasons are disappearing and peak seasons are no longer peak,” he told The times. “April through November is one season.” This means it is worth visiting at the end of this period.
  • Stay informed about the news in your destination country. As the climate and energy situation becomes increasingly difficult, governments will be forced to intervene. In France, there are nightly talks in news programs about the future ban on personal swimming pools. President Macron has asked his government for a working solution to reduce the number of private jets. Something has to admit, and even the French public agrees, according to an August 23 poll, that climate change is France’s second biggest problem after inflation. All of these factors can affect the travel plans you want to book this season.



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