Top ten: Trends in travel

Larrie Wanberg
Features Editor

Wellness travel is one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a non-profit educational foundation. Wellness travel is reported to be a $494 billion industry.

An overarching trend of wellness travel is combining hospitality, health, relaxation, learning, and digital tools that enable a consumer to preview a tour, to share the experience as it happens, and to archive the journey for future enjoyment.

Travel gets “in your blood,” often for a lifetime. For students, tours make the world real. For young families, travel opens wide eyes of children for absorption of the experience. For retired, adventures beyond the horizon or on a dream list reward a life of work. And for seniors, revisiting earlier footsteps or reflecting on what they have seen of the world impacts travel trends over generations.

As one who has owned three travel agencies over the years, I’m referencing what I see as the top ten trends in travel today:

1. Heritage Tours: Tracing one’s roots is popular. Nostalgic tours to countries of origin are common, but connecting genealogy of travelers to farms and communities in Norway through a library collection of “bygde­bøker” documents (family histories) is a specialty (www.brekketours.com).

2. Association Travel: Sons of Norway, a membership organization, has a long history of sponsoring guided tours to Norway as part of a benefit service (www.sofn.com). Alumni associations of universities too organize group travel, often fully booked a year in advance.

3. Historical Societies: Vesterheim Museum and Historical Society in Decorah, Iowa, offer tours to Norway that specialize with artists and historians as guides (vesterheim.org/norway-tours). Likewise, the Norwegian American Historical Society in Northfield, Minn., promotes study tours to Norway with faculty as guides (www.naha.stolaf.edu).

4. Adventure Travel: In Norway, adventure travel in nature has a full menu of choices with its mountains, rivers, and valleys (norway-adventures.com/english/home). For the ultimate in adventure, visit Voss during “Extreme Sports Week” in July to watch or even experience adventures almost beyond belief (en.visitvoss.no/ideas-and-inspiration/adventure-holidays).

5. Cruising: A coastal voyage along Norway’s fjord country is a supreme vacation that can be both lavish in personal services (www.vikingcruises.com) and inspiring in cultural experiences (www.norwegiancoastalcruises.com).

6. RVing: For comfort, flexibility, and sheer enjoyment for nature-oriented travelers, it’s hard to beat renting an RV in Norway, but it can be expensive and governed by mountain road restrictions (www.motorhomenorway.com). A very popular alternative is Norway’s extensive camping and caravanning network for families to be up close and personal with nature and culture (www.visitnorway.com/hotels-more/caravan-camping).

7. Veterans: Worldwide tours for veteran groups are available, but of special interest is the historic story of the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate), a WWII unit of Norwegian Americans that was specialized in mountain warfare and participated in major battles in Europe (www.99battalion.org).

8. Road Scholars: A leading non-profit travel organization for seniors, Road Scholars offers 14 tours to Norway, including the “Legends of Norway,” and specializes in intergenerational travel whereby grandparents tour with grandchildren for a shared adventure (www.roadscholar.org).

9. Student Study Tours: Countless opportunities exist for students of all ages to study in Norway, ranging from attendance at a folk school, an exchange program, or to the ultimate of a university-associated year abroad with the Fulbright program (www.studyabroad.com/in-norway).

10. World of Incentive Travel: The wide, wide world of incentive travel is generally a corporate-sponsored event, such as a retreat-type meeting or convention at a special destination that is a business reward for sales performance or skill-building (www.incentivetravelgroup.com). Incentives can also be loyalty programs, such as frequent flyer rewards by the airlines or hospitality sites or travel cards that encourage consumers to independently choose their travel destinations.

Trends in travel today are as broad as the concept of wellness itself. Trends put the traveler in the center of a circle of opportunities to pick and choose benefits that create an idealized experience for the consumer in a rich, intergenerational experiential environment, often driven by the age of the internet and social media platforms.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 27, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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