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If you are like me, you are coming to the realization that determining the “type” of trip you want to take on your next vacation has become more exhausting than actually shopping around for the best deal. I have done it all – partied like it was 1999 in Las Vegas, sailed the seas on a Southern Caribbean cruise, and even spent a week or so having others pamper me at a California spa resort. I find myself saying, “This time around I want to do something different!”

This years travel trends have changed quite a bit from the last. Not too long ago, spa vacations were the next best thing since Nutella, people couldn’t get enough of cruising, and festivals were the reason many people were hoping on a plane to see whomever…wherever. Well, this year is all about changing the game and I am all about upping the ante and trying something new! I will break down the new and improved ways to travel from going luxury all the way, to embarking on your own culinary adventure, and even trading in those spa resorts for those more focused on wellness.

LUXURY VACATIONS

People these days want something a little out of the ordinary. They want to do things that the typical traveler won’t do, can’t do, or wouldn’t do – like visiting “hard-to-travel-to” islands or those locations that are off-the-beaten path. What has changed? Well, it seems to be less about the location and where you actually sleep and more about the experience. It is not that the type of travel has changed, for example, cruising may be just as popular (with the exception of Carnival Cruise Lines), but how you go about cruising is different. Travelers are now expanding their horizons and booking the smaller, and less advertised cruise lines where the ratio of staff to cruisers is 1 to 5 versus 1 to 100. We are not just talking about staying at a 5 star hotel anymore; we are now looking for 5 star treatment when we leave to venture out into the city.

People want deeper experiences and are starting to place more emphasis on what they do once they arrive. They want to learn more about the culture instead of planning it all on their own. You may hire a private car with its own driver so that you can see the city at your own pace, and let’s not forget, with impeccable service and with the comfort you so deserve. So, try a luxury hiking trip, a European “personally” guided tour, hire your own personal chef so you can experience the cuisine first hand, or just charter your own plane. Hey, you only live once, right? In summary, everything has a VIP option or add-on.

WELLNESS VACATIONS

Woman practicing yoga at beach

Wellness travel is one of the newest trends in travel, as more people want to find creative ways to get the best of both worlds – they want a vacation that combines both health and relaxation. Last year, wellness took a back seat to trips that were focused on other wellness “aspects” such as spa treatments or adventure activities. Although these are considered a type of wellness activity it is not the type of vacation I am speaking of here. When I speak of wellness, I am referring to the five wellness philosophies of physical health, mental well-being, nutrition, spiritual health, and community.

Wellness is any and all things that contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Basically, better sleep, stress reduction, eating better, and becoming one with nature; really anything that contributes to a happier, healthier person. There are several types of vacations that fall into this category but the most popular are Fitness Resorts (resorts that cater to fitness and weight loss with posh accommodations and gourmet spa cuisine) and Destination Spas and Resort Spas (a less structured approach focused on improving oneself physically, mentally and spiritually).

CULINARY VACATIONS

People are fascinated with food and chefs today are the new rock stars. Many travelers are starting to embrace culinary-focused programs as a way of satisfying the interest in experiential travel with an emphasis on authentic encounters with local culture. These types of vacations can include everything from a standard wine tasting in California’s Napa Valley to a hands-on cooking class in Hoi An, Vietnam. You can start somewhere close and work your way up to an international trip sampling cuisine that may not be that familiar to you. Culinary travel provides a unique experience and a great way to access a new culture through its food.

These vacations are not just about the food, but they include traditional sightseeing, shopping and other activities as well. Some culinary tours even include shopping trips to local village markets where clients buy the ingredients they’ll use in hands-on cooking classes, visits to specialty food stores, food tastings and talks by local culinary experts and professionals. The international culinary tours are typically open to a maximum number of guests, which allows for an even more intimate experience. These vacations are for those that don’t  just want to enjoy a glass of wine but also want to see where that wine came from and what was involved in producing it.

So which travel trend would you be most interested in?

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

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