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2013: Wishes for smooth journeys

By Katia Hetter, CNN
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Consider exploring our national parks, such as Arches National Park in Utah, as part of your travel plans in 2013.
Consider exploring our national parks, such as Arches National Park in Utah, as part of your travel plans in 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Consider being more polite during your journey, even when other people aren't
  • Enjoy the view on your vacation without blocking it with a smartphone
  • Actually take the vacation time you've been given and come back to work refreshed

(CNN) -- Travelers don't just want to get from point A to point B in one piece. We want to arrive at our destinations happy and refreshed and ready to start our work or vacation. Wishful thinking? Perhaps.

Given that it's a new year and all dreams seem possible, CNN gave travel experts around the globe a magic wand for travel wishes unbound by constraints.

Spread a little kindness

"This year, I've seen people pick fights with flight attendants, yell profanities at TSA screeners and get snippy with gate agents," said Sarah Schlichter, editor of IndependentTraveler.com. "If you travel often enough, a little hassle and stress are practically guaranteed, but I don't think that's any excuse to be rude or abusive to people who are just trying to do their jobs.

"If I could only have one wish for 2013, it would be for more kindness and civility throughout the travel experience," she said. "A calm, patient demeanor will make others more inclined to help you and make the travel experience a little less stressful for everyone else."

Put away that smartphone

"Would the experience of sipping a foamy cup of Mexican hot chocolate on a chilly November day in an out-of-the-way cafe in Chiapas have been better if I wasn't obsessively trying to crop and filter and post the moment?" asked Norie Quintos, executive editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

"The day my waterproof digital camera failed right before a snorkeling excursion in the Galapagos turned out to be a lucky one when I came face-to-snout with a sea lion. I don't have a photo, but without a digital device between us, the memory of it is so IMAX-vivid, I don't need one.

"Can one really, actually, holistically experience a place through a 2x3 inch frame while typing succinctly about it?

"I wish people would pull their smartphones away from their faces when they travel. The view is ever so much better," she said. "I'm actually lecturing to myself as well as the majority of travelers who share their experiences in real time through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. ... I resolve to see more by using my iPhone less in 2013; wishing the same for you."

Explore our national parks

"If it seems that more of your friends have been to Thailand or Argentina recently than to the Grand Canyon or the Everglades, you might be right," said Andy Murdock, Lonely Planet's U.S. digital editor, who wishes more Americans would explore our national park system. "U.S. National Park visitation is lower now that it was in the late 1980s, and it's been more or less stagnant for the last 30 years."

The National Park Service has 11 free entry days in 2013, and 265 of the 398 national parks are free year-round. "Pick the closest park and go once. That's all it takes to get you hooked," he said.

Deliver my dinner to my room

Lisa Durocher, general manager and senior vice president of American Express Travel, wants some major advances in room service so that her order is ready when she gets to her hotel room.

"I wish I could check into the hotel and order my room service the minute we hit the runway, so that by the time I arrived at my serene, sound-proofed room, there would be a masseuse and a burger waiting for me. With fries. And a Coke. Calorie-free."

Use the vacation time you have

"I want people to take just one more vacation in 2013," said Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group. "Just one."

"Our American Travel Behavior Survey indicated the majority of Americans are leaving an average of 9.2 unused paid vacation days on the table, up from 2011's 6.2 days, and that needs to change. Now is a great time to set the goal of rejuvenating the body and mind by taking one more getaway in the new year."

An airline running on garbage?

Brett Snyder of Crankyflier.com has more magic wand-intensive wishes.

"My wish for the airline industry is that instead of increasing storm intensity, climate change results in exactly the opposite: Bad weather disappears completely," Snyder said. "Further, aircraft manufacturers come up with a new manufacturing process that not only guarantees airplanes will never have mechanical problems but also allows them to run solely on garbage.

"Without storms and broken airplanes, airlines run 99% of their flights on time. Free from the high cost of oil, airfares plunge, and the world learns to love them again. As the owner of an air travel assistance business, this would put me out of work, but it would be well worth it."

A strengthened airline inspection system

William J. McGee, author of "Attention All Passengers: The Airlines' Dangerous Descent -- and How to Reclaim Our Skies," interviewed FAA and airline employees about U.S. inspection of airline maintenance facilities.

McGee says they told him "that the industry's stellar safety record is being compromised by a neverending race to cut expenses, because the traditional model of airlines employing their own licensed mechanics for major service and repairs has been upended in the last decade."

His wish: "That the FAA strengthens its oversight and enhances on-site inspections of airline maintenance facilities."

What are your travel wishes for 2013? They can be practical or something out of a science fiction novel. Dream big, and your idea could become part of a future CNN travel story.

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