The ‘do something’ summer vacation

Congrats, niche marketers. You have achieved a major victory for summer 2014 travel as taking off on a do-nothing, remove-the-watch, turn-off-the-phone type of vacation is officially “out.”

Do. See. Interact. This is the new travel trend, and unlike previous years, bucket-list agendas are all about engaging guests via a specific themed or hobby-related trip. Authentic experiences are big as are custom-created agendas that revive and restore by way of one’s passion.

USA Today recently unveiled its 2014 Best Bucket List Trip report with the Pacific Coast of Ecuador and the isolated archipelago Galapago luring naturalists hoping to mark off an up-close-and-personal wildlife encounter or possibly a walk across a desolate lava field from their bucket list. 

The last great frontier, Alaska, came in at #2 thanks to its offering of rugged and jaw-dropping beauty while the attraction of a luxurious African safari camp came in at #3.

According to Forbes, the super rich are spending up to US$4 billion a year on this type of little-if-any-relaxation type of adventure travel. I mean, who doesn’t want to tell everyone about the time they swam with sharks in Costa Rica or went cliff-diving in New Zealand? You only live once, right?

Outside of adventurous, back-to-nature themed agendas, there are perennial favorites such as wine and archeology tours and an array of hobby-related themed destinations many of us never dreamed would show up in the travel industry. Take the “womb-to-tomb” tour inspired by Nelson Mandela, which, for the record, didn’t exist while he was alive. Or, you can visit an ice hotel, underwater or treehouse resort.

There is also a new type of travel being tabbed as a “reality tour” where you are whisked to places such as the Brazilian slums or South African townships where you may come across a crime lord or open sewer, which is the premise behind these new tours.

The following are some older yet more realistic travel themes mixed with a few of the newer ones, which have all contributed in pushing the themed-travel experience trend over the top.

  • Hike, bike and climb destinations
  • River and ocean cruises
  • Fly-fishing
  • Dude/cowboy ranches
  • Spa and wellness destinations
  • Surf and snorkel camps
  • Give-back trip
  • Glamping (luxury camping)
  • Rainforest yoga retreats
  • Golf and tennis
  • Flea and vintage markets
  • Theme parks
  • Hollywood “glitterati” tours
  • Culinary foodie tours
  • Wine, beer and spirit tours
  • Music festivals

While researching this week’s trend, I discovered a great way to manage your bucket list via a free tool at Once you sign up you can share your goals with friends, connect with other goal seekers and see how others have achieved their goals!

Personally, I am sold on the trend of themed adventures as my own mantras happen to be “Rest and you rust” and “Do nothing — show nothing!” This summer I will honor my husband and attend a Formula 1 race (location TBD) along with a visit to an animal rescue foundation in Utah for the sake of testing the temptations of yet another pet adoption (a.k.a., a give-back vacay!).

What do you plan to do this summer? Where will your travels take you, and is a specific theme on the agenda?