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Whatever happened to the days of packing a suitcase and heading off for a good ol' traditional vacation? Travel is a source for dispensable income and, because of that, successfully selling travel destinations and services requires creativity, marketing savvy and a very special knack for wordsmithery.
Not sure what we're talking about? Then it's time you brush up on these often bizarre but currently relevant travel trends:
For the parents-to-be
For those couples who have successfully conceived and are counting down the days until they welcome their first child into the world, there's still time to take a quick trip. Babymoons are an invitation for those on the brink of parenthood to take one final child-free vacation before they become full-time parents. Lots of hotels now cater babymooners with packages that include pre-natal massages, meals free of alcohol and raw seafood, and baby bump photo sessions.
For aging parents who would like grandchildren in their lives, a new solution recently made headlines in Europe. A Danish travel company, noting the country's declining population, launched a campaign encouraging mothers of grown children to help fund baby-making vacations. (No, this is not a joke.)
For the feel-good traveler
Some folks want to do more than just travel—they want to give back or achieve some aspect of altruism while on the road. This is especially true for families hoping to impart valuable life lessons on their kids during family vacations.
Photograph by Twenty20
Both voluntourism and ecotoursim are forms of sustainable travel intended to leave behind a minimal eco-footprint compared to more traditional trips. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference: Ecotourism is geared toward traveling to places that tend to lack conveniences, facilities and amenities that many people expect when they travel. This generally means the travel experience is more authentic or local and, because traditional hospitality features are not needed or expected, more sustainable. Voluntourism, on the other hand, requires that travelers actively help the communities they visit through volunteer work of some sort.
Take this a bit further for couples who have recently married, and you've got honeyteering, which combines a honeymoon with volunteer work. The Thai Tourism Authority even created an entire tourism promotion around this concept last year.
It's not new news that many Americans don't generally take full advantage of the little vacation time they are given by their employers. Perhaps this opens the door for virtual reality travel, which is now a reality.
Speaking of feeling good, fitness travel is also increasing in popularity. A number of providers are putting together specialized trips, such as cruises and retreats, that focus specifically on working out. Rumor has it, however, that in an attempt to pull themselves into good physical fitness routines, some people are sustaining injuries because their bodies just aren't ready for this level of intensity.
For the immersive traveler
It's not enough just to rent a hotel room and check out the local attractions anymore. Getting "off the beaten path" is all the rage, and immersion travel is becoming the norm. Families that spend a long time in a single destination (often known as slow travel) or seek out activities that locals participate in are finding an opportunity to combine cultural experiences and education with leisure time. Those who rent homes while they travel often find themselves in neighborhoods rather than in a tourist hub, which opens them up to chance encounters with locals at markets, playgrounds and the local park.
Photograph by Twenty20
For the penny pinchers (or those crunched for time)
It's not new news that many Americans don't generally take full advantage of the little vacation time they are given by their employers. Perhaps this opens the door for virtual reality travel, which is now a reality. British Columbia's tourism branch recently started using virtual reality for marketing purposes. This 360-degree travel brochure of sorts highlights the area's range of landscapes, from wilderness areas to metropolitan hotspots. Of course, the ultimate goal is to get people to book a vacation.
And if you are able to get away but need to combine work with play, then you can participate in bleisure travel. Savvy bleisure travelers often tack a few days of personal time onto the front or tail end of a business trip to take advantage of a flight paid for on the company's dime or simply to check out a destination beyond the boardroom.
For everyone else
There are a few other quirky vacation terms that are making their way through popular culture, and, even though they might not apply to you and your family, we're well aware that inquiring minds want to know what they mean. As these travel trends leak into the mainstream lexicon, it's worth educating yourself about these new terms—all the better to search for deals. Or, at the very least, you'll have something interesting to add at your next dinner party.
So maybe you're dying to go on a gaycation—vacations targeted toward the gay community—or a mancation to getaway with the bros. Nakations are trips that are taken to nudist resorts, and those families leaving town ahead of a big storm are packing up for a hurrication.
Of course, there is glamping, a higher-end version of camping, which often includes more comfortable accommodations in yurts or enclosed tents with electricity and running water. But the fanciness can only go so far. No matter what you call your vacation, mosquitos, tourists and a bill at the end will also be part of the package.