2018 Travel Trends: Outdoor, Cultural and Culinary Experiences See Sharp Increase

2018 Travel Trends: Outdoor, Cultural and Culinary Experiences See Sharp Increase

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Photo: The Charleston Harbor History Tour

Travelers are increasingly favoring food tours, cooking classes, and historical and heritage experiences, as well as aquatic activities — such as snorkeling, sailing trips, and kayaking and canoeing — according to TripAdvisor, the world’s largest online provider of bookable experiences, tours, and activities. The company released it’s top travel trend report for the experiences segment, which reveals that iconic sites remain wildly popular, while travelers are expanding their horizons and bringing growth to new, non-traditional and experiential categories.

Historic and heritage experiences (such as a Charleston Harbor History Tour and a Tour of Historic Fenway Park) saw the most growth (+125% in bookings), and culinary is a clear trend: cooking classes and food tours both appeared among the top five categories, each with 57% bookings’ growth.

Aquatic activities dominated the top ten, taking half of the top spots. Sunset cruises (+89% in bookings), snorkeling (+64%), sailing trips (+55%), catamaran cruises (+51%), and kayaking and canoeing experiences (+49%) all ranked in the year’s fastest-growing categories.

“We’re seeing more travelers balancing their itineraries with a mix of classic sightseeing and more unique local experiences,” said Laurel Greatrix, director of communications. “Of course travelers heading to Rome want to explore the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, but they’re also booking experiences like food tours to enhance their trip, and see the city like a local.”

“Travelers are also being more economical with their time,” Greatrix continued. “Skip-the-line tour options are among the fastest-growing tours in the world, and were among the fastest growing categories for US travelers in particular, allowing travelers to see more than just the back of someone’s head.”

The Live Nashville Walking Tour ($22) was one of the top 10 new experiences in 2017, allowing visitors to explore Nashville’s honky-tonk history and colorful characters on a 105-minute walking tour of downtown with a local guide.

The following are some of TripAdvisor’s rankings for the top experiences booked last year:

The USA’s most popular experiences: global travelers, 2017
Ranked by 2017 booking count totals

1.    Chicago Architecture River Cruise
2.    Empire State Building Tickets
3.    NYC One World Observatory: Skip the line
4.    USS Midway Museum: Skip the line (San Diego)
5.    New York City PASS
6.    Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour
7.    Skydeck Chicago: Admission
8.    Big Bus New York Hop-on, Hop-off
9.    9/11 Memorial Museum Admission
10.  Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour

Fastest-growing experience categories: US travelers, 2017.
Ranked by year-over-year growth in total bookings count
1.    Historical and heritage Tours (+98%)
2.    Sunset Cruises (+89%)
3.    Private Day Trips (+74%)
4.    Snorkeling (+64%)
5.    Sailing Trips (+55%)
6.    Catamaran Cruises (+52%)
7.    Cooking Classes (+51%)
8.    Kayaking & Canoeing (+49%)
9.    Food Tours (+49%)
10.  Archaeology Tours (+49%)

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason travels the country full-time with his wife Abigail, and three children in a converted school bus.

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