How Obama Will Change Travel (Hello Cuba!)


Now that the parties are over, it's time for all this change to take place (word on the street is that was kind of Obama's MO). The new prez, a fellow jetsetter himself, has promised to make traveling easier on the masses. Here's what globetrotters have to look forward to in the coming four (maybe eight) years.

Loosen restrictions on travel to Cuba. Hillary Clinton announced at the Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the new administration is in support of lifting travel restrictions on families wishing to visit relatives in Cuba and urges Havana to make its own concessions, free political prisoners and open up the economy. While this doesn't mean the average American traveler will be able to border hop at his own leisure--yet--maybe it's not too far off. Could this be the road to the end of a nearly-50-year embargo?

More money invested in Amtrak. Former President Bush was famously not a fan of the public rail network. Lucky for commuters (and um, environmentalists?), both Obama and VP Joe Biden have consistently pledged their support for Amtrak, agreeing to invest tens of billions of dollars in a high-speed train program to develop reliable cross-country networks in order to conserve energy and boost the economy.

"Greening" the travel industry. While green-washing has become a trend in this more eco-minded society, our new top dog is deadset on counteracting problems of serious concern like global warming and widespread waste (the man was even the first president ever to have his inauguration on a recycled carpet!). You can expect him to introduce new intitiatives like ubiquitous carbon offset programs with the airlines and promote a more sustainable way of traveling.

More realistic security standards. After an Atlantic Monthly writer recently exposed the many flaws of the American airport security system by breaking rules through acts like sneaking vodka past security via a saline solution bottle, as well as four beers in a Camelbak-like device hidden under his shirt ("The Things He Carried," November 2008), it's become quite evident that recent airline hogwash like the 3-1-1 liquid rules are all for naught. Obama is behind the "right to travel" philosophy, which could lead to more realistic and less cumbersome travel regulations.

A boost in U.S. Tourism. It's no secret that Americans haven't been the most popular of travelers these past two terms. If you visited select European countries (or other Bush-hating nations) during that time period, chances are you were shunned by locals for your nationality alone. Now that we've bid adieu to W, who was no prom king in the global eye, and Obama is wildly popular on an international scale, you can almost guarantee a significant rise in "Obama Tourism" (hey, it might even help our economy a bit while at it).

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