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Top Destinations and Travel Trends for 2018

Connecting with locals, discovering unique culinary experiences and holistic wellness are some of the top motivations for travel in 2018.

The recently released American Express 2018 travel trend and top destinations report revealed international bookings are up 44 percent for the first quarter of the coming year as people are embarking on journeys around the globe for a multitude of reasons.

The propriety study, which involved surveying more than 2,000 respondents, found that 57 percent of Americans have set exploring a new destination they’ve never seen before as their most important travel goal for 2018.

Tour planners everywhere take note: Nearly half of travelers, 43 percent, said finding a local culinary spot in a hip neighborhood is one of the most exciting dining experiences while traveling.

In addition, spontaneity continues to be incredibly important to travelers, 52 percent of whom enjoy getting lost and discovering hidden shops, restaurants or bakeries to create their own memories. Further underscoring the desire for the unexpected, 49 percent of Americans prefer trips with adventure and excitement.

Additional highlights from the American Express report include:

—56 percent of U.S. travelers are willing to pay more to get better service, and 53 percent like to be pampered while traveling.

—Luxury travelers are increasingly booking premium seating with 68 percent planning to fly first or business class in 2018.

—22 percent of Americans say the most important travel goal for 2018 is to disconnect from technology, work and everyday life.

Another trend to watch for over the next 12 months is “social over solo travel.” According to American Express, solo travel still has its place, but 53 percent of Americans prefer a social travel experience during which they are able to connect with like-minded travelers for an optimal experience.

In addition, 57 percent of Americans are seeking to interact with locals when traveling. Still, others want to stay with locals while traveling.

The study also reveals the top 10 destinations for the coming year. The leading place to be in 2018 is Bali.

The remaining destinations rounding out the top 10 include Costa Rica; Dubai; London; Portugal (Lisbon and Porto regions); Rome; Tel Aviv; Utah-Lorado (Park City, Salt Lake City, Aspen, Denver and Vail); Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City regions); and Zurich, Switzerland.

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