Airbnb is also stepping up its experience game with the announcement of its Summer 2024 Icons Program. This new initiative promises a collection of extraordinary experiences hosted by the biggest names in music, film, TV, art, sports, and much more.

What's fueling this surge? It's the irresistible allure of adventure and novelty. According to a recent survey by GetYourGuide, 90% of travelers plan to spend the same or more on activities in 2024, and 98% of travelers say the reasons they choose a destination hinge on the promise of unique experiences. People are looking to align travel with their personal passions with top destinations and activities focused on:

  • Culture and history

  • Adventure and nature

  • Immersive and unique

These travelers, dubbed 'The Explorers,' are splurging on experiences, indulging in longer trips, traveling more frequently, and propelling the experience economy to new heights.

From climbing mountains to diving into clear oceans, today's travelers aren't just visiting places—they're really experiencing them. And it's not just about big adventures. How about a spiritual retreat in the Himalayas or a food tour in Italy’s vineyards?

This isn't just about ticking destinations off a bucket list. It's about meaningful, transformative experiences that offer personal growth and unforgettable memories. It's no wonder that adventure travel, especially for adrenaline junkies, is seeing a momentous rise. Whether it's bungee jumping off a cliff in South Africa or white-water rafting in the Colorado River, the quest for that adrenaline rush is a powerful motivator.

And even domestic tourism is getting a slice of the adventure pie. This summer, more people are opting for trips closer to home, rediscovering their own backyards in ways that reignite their sense of wonder. National parks, hidden hiking trails, and secluded beach spots are all getting newfound love from travelers seeking adventure without the long-haul flight.

Travel trends now focus on wellness and connecting with nature. Think forest walks in Japan or soaking in Iceland’s hot springs. These trips don’t just refresh your body but also your mind and spirit. You come back with stories you'll share for years.

Destinations like Fajardo in Puerto Rico (with a jaw-dropping 419% increase in bookings from American travelers) and Hoi An in Vietnam (up 284% globally) are getting their moment in the spotlight thanks to their distinctive cultures and adventure-packed offerings.

So what does this tell us? It's clear travelers are seeking to deepen their sense of place and purpose. They’re on a quest not just to see the world but to understand it—and in doing so, they're also seeking to understand themselves a little more.

The shift toward experience-focused travel is not just a trend—it's a movement driven by our innate desire to explore, feel alive, and connect with the world in deeper, more meaningful ways. Whether it’s a yoga retreat in Bali, a cooking class in the heart of Mexico, or a sustainable farming experience in the Spanish countryside, these activities aren't just fun—they change you.

The key takeaway here? Don’t just travel. Transform. Find experiences that speak to your soul, and let them guide your journey around our beautiful, unpredictable planet.

By Ivana Johnston