Captivating backdrops, themed on-site photo shoots and exotic locations are on trend as travelers seek to keep their Instagram feeds stoking envy among their followers.
Whether it's donning traditional Geisha attire in Kyoto, staying in an igloo in Norway or a tent in the Moroccan desert, getting up close to rhinos or dog sledding in the North Pole, ultra-personalized luxury travel is trending, according to international travel agency network Virtuoso. Travelers want helicopters and VIP airport services. They want adventure, like African safaris and ice caves, but won't leave anything to chance, asking for pre-arranged meals with exact tables and pre-ordered wine at restaurants, and sessions booked with hairdressers.
A survey of 1,071 travel advisers by Virtuoso revealed that travelers want to experience new destinations in unusual ways, as well as old stand-by destinations in the same ways they have for decades. Some of the trends emerging appear to be unconventional accommodations, such as monasteries and tree houses, "bucket-list" experiences like going to the Olympics or shopping at Hermes, and sustainable or conservation-related travel.
Based on Virtuoso's survey of travel agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, here are some of the most popular cities and countries for travel, as well as other trends, such as where millennials are heading, and which are the top honeymoon destinations developing in the selfie-driven luxury travel sector.
Top 5 Emerging Destinations:
Japan tops the list of emerging destinations for the first time. Tokyo is one of the top cities visited.
Pictured is Dubrovnik, Croatia, which is known for its distinctive Old Town and medieval stone walls. Fans of "Game of Thrones" will recognize it as the site where scenes from the city of Kings Landing were filmed.
Above, Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall in southern Iceland. Visitors can walk behind the waterfall into a small cave.
The hilly coastal capital city of Portugal has a number of interesting sites, including Castelo de Sao Jorge and the medieval Belem Tower.
Besides Cairo, the Giza Pyramids, Great Sphinx and Valley of the Kings tombs, many travelers visit cities in Egypt such as Aswan, above, in the Nile Valley and beach resorts such as Hurghada.
Photo: EBONYEG / Shutterstock
Top 5 Adventure Destinations:
1. South Africa
Above, white rhinos in in Kruger National Park.
Pictured is an ice cave at the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland, Europe's largest glacier.
3. New Zealand
Above, the Hobbiton Movie Set, a popular destination in New Zealand where scenes from "The Lord of the Rings" were filmed.
Photo: imo Kaestner / Shutterstock
4. Galapagos Islands
The volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. The unique animal species there inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
5. Costa Rica
With its beaches, rainforests, volcanoes and rich biodiversity, Costa Rica is a popular destination for adventure-seekers, eco-tourism and just plain old relaxing vacations. Pictured is the Arenal volcano.
Top 5 Travel Trends:
1. Multigenerational travel
Grandparents with grandkids or entire families are traveling together to develop stronger family ties. Above, a family waits for a train in Manarola, Italy.
2. Active or Adventure Trips
See wildlife, go river rafting, climb a mountain, walk across England, or hike in the Himalayas (above), you can take extreme to whatever level suits you.
3. River Cruising
Above, a cruise ship on the Danube river in Budapest with the Chain Bridge, Parliament building, and St. Stephen Basilica.
4. Luxury Cruising
Luxury cruises stand apart for their personal service, smaller ships with fewer passengers, and exotic destinations.
5. Celebration Travel
This type of travel usually revolves around weddings, anniversaries, birthdays or other milestones. Above, a wedding ceremony in Rhodes, Greece.
Photo: Bulent Demir / Shutterstock
Top 5 Millennial Destinations:
Italy continues its reign overall as the top global destination as well as the leader for family travel, honeymoons and millennial travel.
Above, tourists ride elephants near Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Photo: Cocos.Bounty / Shutterstock
Social media drives travelers' desire to find the best spot for snapping images for their Instagram feeds, such as the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa in Iceland, pictured here.
4. South Africa
African penguins hang out on the beach in Cape Town.
The world's largest island is almost as big as the continental U.S., and there's plenty to see, do, eat, and drink. Some of the world's most stunning beaches and landforms are here, as well as unique wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef and world class cities to keep you busy. Above, Wave Rock, a natural rock formation shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave in Western Australia.
Top 5 Honeymoon Destinations:
A classic honeymoon destination, there's no shortage of romance in Italy. Some of the most popular cities include Venice, Florence, Rome and Milan.
The small nation of 26 ring-shaped atolls has white sand, warm, crystal clear waters, and friendly locals.
3. French Polynesia
Above, women perform a traditional dance in Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia. Other islands include Bora Bora and Maupiti. Honeymooners can enjoy bungalow hotels over the water, beaches of white and black sand, mountains, rugged backcountry and waterfalls.
Photo: sarayuth3390 / Shutterstock
4. Maui, Hawaii
A classic honeymoon destination, Hawaii's second largest island draws visitors to Kaanapali Resort, Iao Valley, Lahaina and Haleakala National Park. Pictured is the road to Hana.
France is a top global destination as well as a top honeymoon destination. Above, Chateau de Chenonceau on the Cher River, in the Loire Valley.
Top 5 Cities:
According to the Paris tourist office, visitors to greater Paris exceeded a record 40 million tourists in 2017.
2. Rome and New York
Rome's most popular tourist destinations are the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum. Pictured is the Roman Forum. About 62 million people visited New York City in 2017.
3. Cape Town
The port city near the southernmost tip of the continent offers stunning views from its cable cars that climb to the top of Table Mountain. The prison that held Nelson Mandela is now a museum.
The modern and yet historic city is the home of Queen Elizabeth, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and some of the world's top museums.
The teeming capital of Japan is both modern and traditional. Above, visitors stand in the "rain" in one of the spaces at the teamLab Borderless exhibit at the Mori Digital Art Museum in Tokyo, one of the city's many museums.