You Won’t Believe the Newest Travel Craze!

This month has flown by, hasn’t it? January is always a busy month in the travel industry, but these last few weeks have been C R A Z Y ! I am so incredibly grateful to my friends, family, and loyal clients who have feverishly referred my travel planning services to their loved ones. In fact, I now find myself having the fantastic problem of too much business. I’m learning to master the phrase, “I have a bit of a wait list.” What a blessing!

This month, I’ve been working on itineraries (and “wine-tineraries”) in FOURTEEN different countries! The trend toward culinary travel–my personal love–is growing. Foodies and wine geeks are on board with the gospel I’ve been preaching for years: it’s perfectly okay to pick a vacation spot based on your tastebuds! God gave us five senses, and none are inherently superior to the others. If your version of art is food or wine, who’s to judge?

I have a rule.

You do not have to drag yourself to 1,001 museums that you could care less about just to say you did. I’m going to go ahead and give you permission to skip anything and everything that doesn’t appeal to you. If food and wine are your thing, there are ‘galleries’ a’ plenty that come in the form of local cafes and fromageries, rugged vineyards and musty cellars, bread-baking classes and truffle hunts.

Whether your passion is beer gardens or garden gardens, I invite you to indulge in 2017!

Of course, this all goes back to Fred Plotkin’s case for “pleasure activism,” the idea that one should intentionally, actively engage that which pleases the senses.

I’ve seen a few other travel trends take shape in the last few weeks, but they all have something in common: folks are becoming far more intentional about how they spend their vacation time.

Diversify your portfolio.

People are done taking the same old Florida trip year after year! They are using their vacation days to see the world. Cultural hotspots like Portugal, Myanmar, and Slovenia will soon be joining the ranks of oldies-but-goodies like France, Italy, and Spain.

Interestingly, Cuba is a major influencer of this trend. The opening of Cuban tourism has sparked a new interest among Americans to explore the cultural richness of countries which used to be off-limits. Travelers seem more and more willing to step out of their comfort zones and dig deep into new places. I’ve even seen a flux in requests for Morocco, Israel, and Vietnam—all destinations that Americans have stayed away from in recent years.

Soft Adventure.

I’ve also seen a trend toward soft adventure travel. What is it?

Soft adventure is the notion that you can challenge yourself some while you travel.

Soft adventure indicates that you will spend your time away doing more than sipping piña coladas or following guidebook instructions.

soft adventure travel

What it isn’t: heli-skiing, skydiving, or trekking the Inca Trail. Think more along the lines of a Kenyan safari, staying in a wilderness lodge, or biking in the Loire Valley.

Adventure travel pushes the limits of the experienced outdoorsman. Soft adventure provides a comfortable challenge for inexperienced travelers to connect with the destination on a cultural, natural, or physiological level.

We all have different degrees to which we are willing to step out of our comfort zones. Climate comfort is a fantastic example. If you’re a beach baby like I am, you may find Iceland to be an excellent destination for a soft challenge. Iceland’s tourism has been at fever pitch for a couple of years because it provides a wealth of activities for rejuvenation and outdoor action. Now we’re even seeing high-end operators open up incredible soft (and hard) adventure tours in Antarctica!! <—Pretty sure that won’t be on my list for awhile though!

No more drive-thru weddings.

Also on the horizon is–and this excites me immensely–eloping! This new travel craze is pushing me to creatively design vacations that define relationships. It’s a beautiful thing.

The destination wedding is by no means out, but eloping is definitely IN! Well, I suppose it isn’t exactly eloping….can we call it faux-loping? Here’s the scoop…

Eloping used to be about spontaneously sneaking off to Vegas (often as an act of rebellion). Leave it to Millennials to change the way we think about tying the knot. This young generation is redefining the wedding—and not just by creating an event hashtag! Instead of a standard issue honeymoon, they are following their “I do’s” with some uber-intentional “I will’s”.

  • It’s a budget issue. More and more young couples are deciding to forego the pomp, circumstance, and superfluous Vera Wang in favor of a simple, family-centered civil ceremony that gets the legalities out of the way…followed by a thoughtful elopement trip that exceeds the typical honeymoon.
  • It’s an intimacy issue. Couples are starting their lives together with a spectacular, life-affirming vacation where they “elope”—privately but symbolically—at the location of their choice. This isn’t their legal union, but it is their emotional union. The pragmatism and intimacy of the experience wins out when the couple exchange their handwritten vows in a unique setting that defines their feelings for one another. Millennials may be known for oversharing on social media, but they are eager for genuine connection and intimacy.
  • It’s an independence issue. Say what you want about Millennials, but many are defying their reputation for laziness and are blazing new trails that are more responsible than you might think. Getting married on their own terms (and often, their own dime) is but one social statement you can expect to see from this generation.

Why is eloping suddenly a thing?

romantic bike ride in the Loire Valley

Two thoughts: short engagements & fierce practicality. Plenty of young couples are dating for several years throughout college, then opting for a super-short engagement. That standard one year engagement isn’t necessary if you aren’t coordinating a wedding, right? And, as I already addressed, practicality prevails when given the choice between two weeks in the South of France and one night at the country club.

It also comes down to time.

Millennials are more afraid to use their vacation days than any generation in history! Most couples I’ve spoken with are concerned that they simply cannot afford to take time off to prepare for a big wedding and also go on a honeymoon. Others are willing to take a longer honeymoon, but only if it means traveling somewhere meaningful.

What are your thoughts? I personally love the outside-the-box thought process here and can’t wait to see where this trend is headed! (However, my only daughter has another thing coming if she thinks I’ll go for this!)


These trends are fun to look at, analyze, laugh about, and draw inspiration from. But, at the end of the day, the only trend that matters is the one that drives a person to action. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a trend that is more profound than experience.

No one has ever glanced at their bank account, their family pictures, or their day planner and wished they’d experienced less.

The trend we should all get behind is this one: GO.

Go hike, camp, ski, surf, swim, sip, sightsee, or shop. Venture into the great wide open or to the Great Wall of China. Go on a girls’ trip, a guys’ trip, a couples’ trip, a solo trip, a graduation trip, a mission trip, or a family trip.

Just. Go.

See, smell, touch, taste, and listen to the world.

Become a pleasure activist.

Make memories and come up with punchlines to inside jokes.

Discover the richness of other places—especially those that are poorer that you’re used to. Leave a little bit of ignorance behind and buy souvenirs that will remind you of what you learned. Listen to other languages until you realize that laughter always sounds the same.

You can be the originator of a trend that’s close to your heart, but only if you GO!

Ciao Chow,

Autumn Welborn is a vacation planner and travel agent in Lubbock, Texas