Despite the almost daily economic downturn, a recent study points to the positives when it comes to travel trends for the next few years – 87% of those surveyed say travel involving personal interests will remain the same or increase over the next two years. This “personal passion” traveling occurs despite the fact that we are moving toward a recession (or in one – depends who you believe) where typically consumers hold on to money rather than spend it. So why do people take to the air, or load up the car during these penny pinching times? Simply put, for many of us, we cannot afford not to take time off. Unlike many European countries that encourage so much time off we are green with envy, Americans work, work and work some more. I, like many of you, have trouble remembering the last time I was truly “on” vacation. We need this time to recharge our mental health, and why not indulge a passion for food, music or sport in the process?

The road map is out, the course is charted, so let’s take a few minutes to see which where we go when fueled by our passion…

Food finds.
One of the true beauties of food is that it transcends geography – nearly every city in every country can offer tastes from cultures thousands of miles away. While this entry is about travel, this does not necessarily have to mean in the physical sense – the right environment and the right cuisine can take us around the globe in an evening. We have all driven past restaurants in our home city only to remark “we should really try that sometime.” Chances are there is a “taste of <>” in the near future. Places at events like this typically trot out the top sellers or favorites to draw you in for a visit, so this is an excellent opportunity to sample from all of those places you always said you should go, as well as exploring some new finds in your own backyard.

If you are more adventurous, and pockets are deeper, I recommend visiting the Viking Range Web site and clicking on “The Viking Life.” These trips are true food experiential travel – spend a week exploring culinary destinations such as: Tuscany, Vietnam, Napa, Turkey and China. These trips are about more than just eating – most involve trips to see the areas where indigenous items are grown or nurtured followed by a hands-on cooking class with a local chef to taste your new found flavors.

Sound waves.
When many of here the word “cruise” we think of the older generation playing shuffleboard, day trips and 24-hour eating. Jazz Cruises has changed the game by creating a series of full-ship charters with some of the world’s top jazz performers on board for the ride. Like I said the game is changed – this is not just a series of concerts – this is full jazz immersion with 2,000 fellow jazz enthusiasts…and it gets better. All it takes is a few moments to discover that all the performers are on this voyage with you – dinner, drinks, casual conversations, and of course the concerts. The wall has dropped and passengers can meet, greet and experience jazz through the person, not merely the music. Sounds pretty cool. You can get the lowdown at

Good sport.
This is travel for the true sports fan. This will not mention the Super Bowl, World Series, or championship of any kind as these are the events where dollars talk, and often times it is as much about being seen as seeing the athletes. I think the greatest travel of all when it comes to sport is to see your son or daughter play. My little is not quite ready yet, but I have lasting and fond memories of looking up into the stands and always seeing my mother and father cheering me on. I know it took a lot of time and plenty of money that could have been spent somewhere else, but those were the times that brought us closer and closer. From me to all the parents who have made the sacrifices, worked weekends to make up time spent watching games, used vacation time to cart a load of 8 year olds to a baseball tournament, endured less than ideal cuisine and lodging so we could be there – I say thank you, and it meant a lot!

See you around the bend, when Rubber Meets the Road heats up during the cold winter months…