If 2016 was the year of travelers opting to stay close to home in the wake of high-profile terrorist attacks around the globe, 2017 may very well be just the opposite - a year characterized by searching far and wide for under-the-radar and unique experiences.
The trend, revealed in a report from Trip.com (formerly Gogobot), may be a sign that even in these tumultuous times, people have not lost their sense of adventure.
Or it may be an indication that the wave of populist political sentiment popping up across the planet may have its limitations.
"Given that globally there has been a rise of this politically populist attitude in a lot of countries and people wanting to roll back the idea of globalization, we felt this list of 2017 Rising Star Destinations was a sign of hopefulness," explains Travis Katz co-founder and CEO of Trip.com, "It seems to show that people are not wanting to withdraw from the world and still want to engage, because the destinations on the list this year are the most international we've seen in years."
Each year Trip.com releases a list of up-and-coming travel destinations, which is based on the activity of its site members and the reviews members post about more than 60,000 destinations.
Last year's Rising Stars list appeared to be heavily influenced by the terrorist attacks in Paris, the economic collapse in Greece and more geo-political events. There were no European destinations among the top ten, which was instead dominated by domestic and North American destinations such as New Orleans, La.; Montreal, Quebec; Houston, Texas; Memphis, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Sacramento, Calif.
This year's list, however, skews heavily international, and steers clear of the usual international hotspots. Places like Paris, London and Rome, are nowhere to be found. Instead, secondary cities and emerging destinations dominate.
Topping the 2017 Rising Stars is Adelaide, Australia, a destination typically eclipsed by Sydney or Melbourne.
"Adelaide I thought was very surprising," says Katz. "When you hear people talking about going to Australia, you typically hear about the Great Barrier Reef or Sydney or Melbourne. Adelaide is really Australia's gateway to exploring the outdoors...Three national parks border the city, and they have fantastic wildlife. Kangaroo Island is there, which is a nature reserve...so to me this was a sign of people wanting to get more adventuresome."
Number two on this year's Rising Stars list is Cuba, which is not nearly as surprising given that the island has become one of the hottest destinations on the planet thanks to outgoing President Obama's efforts to renew diplomatic relations and ease travel restrictions.
Rounding out the top ten however are other examples similar to Adelaide --- places that have either been typically less popular among travelers in recent years, long been known as secondary cities or destinations that fell out of favor for one reason or another. Some of the additional Rising Stars include Medellin, Colombia; Cairo, Egypt; South Padre Island, Texas; Bucharest, Romania; Bath, England; Stuttgart, Germany; and finally Tbilisi, Georgia.
Just a few years ago, Colombia was named one of the two most unsafe places in the world to travel in a report issued by the World Economic Forum, which makes its resurgence somewhat surprising.
"I was thrilled to see Medellin on here," says Katz. "We've been seeing on Trip.com an increasing number of people traveling to Colombia. For years and years there were wars and kidnappings. But it has always been one of the most colorful countries in South America - there's music, dance, it's a very vibrant country that was held back by political instability. But over the last several years the country has become stable. There is sense Colombia has turned a corner and is safe again."
For those interested in visiting, Medellin is home to beautiful museums, offers great weather and provides ample nightlife, says Katz. It is also one of the most important cities in the world for tango, right behind Buenos Aires.
Bucharest, Romania, meanwhile, was once known as the "Paris of the East," a reputation that was damaged by years of war. Now seen as an increasingly cool Eastern European capital, travelers are attracted by such things as the Romanian Village Museum (an open air exhibition featuring actual houses and traditional ethnographic artifacts), as well as a vibrant hipster culture known for its street art and unique culinary offerings.
"Bucharest is another one of these cities that's always been a little bit in the shadow of a more well-known city, in this case Prague," explains Katz. "Bucharest, however,, is a phenomenally beautiful medieval city...The architecture, history and culture in Bucharest are really fantastic and have probably been underappreciated."
For people traveling to Europe in search of places that are off the beaten path or that their friends haven't been too, Bucharest is the current hot spot - a place Katz predicts will soon emerge as the next Prague.
Bath, England is another city emerging from the shadows of a more famous neighbor. About 90 miles outside London, in the heart of picturesque Somerset, Bath is home to the England's only natural hot springs, which have been attracting travelers since the Romans in AD 60. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is also known for its 18th century Georgian architecture. It has long been a mecca for history and architecture fans.
"One of the things we loved about this list is that there were so many surprises," says Katz. "Bath has always been well known as the Georgian spa town with beautiful architecture. We're now seeing a little cultural renaissance there. We're seeing artists move out to Bath and it's becoming more of an artsy place."
There's also a handful of breweries opening in Bath, as well as independent shops and restaurants, all of which is giving rise to its newfound popularity.
One last notable mention from the Trip.com list is Tbilisi, Georgia - not exactly a place that regularly tops such roundups.
The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi is known for its sulfur baths and is developing a growing reputation for great restaurants. Old Tbilisi meanwhile is rife with cafes and Georgian wine. Trip.com visitors rave about how friendly the locals are and how under the radar city feels.
"Georgia is a fantastically beautiful, fairytale kind of place with old, historic, cobblestone streets and mountains and castles," says Katz. "And it is largely unspoiled by the hordes of tourists all over Europe. It's supposed to be magical place if you want to get a feel for old Europe."
All of which makes it sound pretty fabulous, no?
Yet another recently released report provides perhaps a more short-term and light-hearted look at travel trends.
This report, from TripAdvisor, revealed the international destinations with the greatest hotel booking activity among U.S. travelers the day after the U.S. presidential election.
According to the TripAdvisor take on things, America's immediate neighbors drew the greatest interest among travelers booking vacations on November 9, with Mexico seeing the most booking activity, followed by Canada.
"After the long and intense election, travelers were out in full force researching and booking on TripAdvisor after placing their votes," said Brooke Ferencsik, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.
In addition to Mexico and Canada, The TripAdvisor list of top ten destinations booked on November 9 includes United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, France, India, Thailand and Spain. That momentum continue in the run-up to the Trump inauguration and the beginning of his presidency.