It’s summatime! It may have taken New York a month too long to get unofficial summer started, but it seems we’re finally in the clear of the cold, and official summer starts Wednesday. All hail.
Now the most important thing is: where’s everyone going for summer vacation? I’m planning for Grenada later this summer, but according to American Express, travelers are getting even more exotic than that.
This whole idea of luxury escapism is becoming a thing, and those with the travel bug are tapping into the most exotic of their bucket list items.
Here’s a look at where people are planning to travel this summer so you can do one of two things: go there because there’s obviously something driving the trend in travel there, or not go there because now you think everyone’s going there. Either way, I’m just giving you the deets to do with them what you will.
I refuse to believe the 117 percent uptick in interest in traveling to the Maldives doesn’t have at least something to do with the uptick in bloggers posting fabulous seaside drone photos from there. It’s all about beaches in the Maldives. And those massive hammock things over the water outside of those cabanas that are also over the water. It’s a wake up and jump in the ocean, or a blue lagoon kind of place.
What it’s known for: Really clear, aquamarine waters; under the sea adventures and supreme relaxation far, far from pesky things like responsibility.
Why go: I mean really, why not?
I’ll be honest, Bilbao has never been on my radar, but it seems the port city in Spain is on a lot of people’s radar. Amex said there’s been a 114 percent uptick in bookings to Bilbao, the heart of Basque country.
What it’s known for: Culture, art (like at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao) and down-to-earth-ness.
Why go: Bilbao seems to be one of those city’s that gotten little love over the years, but it’s rich in its own right and probably worth a look before everyone suddenly starts swarming it.
Ho Chi Minh City
Traveling to Vietnam isn’t new, but 97 percent more people are interested in heading to Ho Chi Minh City, specifically. Saigon, as this spot is also called, is a sense-stimulating kind of place, not so much one for relaxation.
What it’s known for: Busy streets, silk boutiques and cyclos (three-wheeled bicycle taxis).
Why go: Because who doesn’t want to poke through markets piled high with local treasures and sample street food you’ve never seen before and may never see again?
I get the feeling this little gem in northern Sardinia, Italy is about to start getting a lot more attention. And Amex probably got that feeling too since it said bookings to Costa Smeralda have increased 90 percent. The coastal area is stunning with bright turquoise waters, white sand and lots of seclusion.
What it’s known for: Hosting royalty, private jets and Sardinian tapas.
Why go: Because no one’s really talking about it yet and you could get a jump on things if you’re rich or planning to become so presently.
Croatia is gorgeous and somehow still not on many travel bucket lists (if it’s not on yours, get it together). Now its capital, Zagreb is 89 percent more interesting to people than it was last year.
What it’s known for: Elegance (Croatia is the birthplace of the necktie), cafes and street life, few tourists.
Why go: There are music festivals all summer, and when you tire of being in town, head to the coast for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
Marrakech is a long-time dream destination, though one that’s also benefitted from some Instagram hype—interest in travel to Marrakech is up 77 percent. The country’s Chefchaouen city (the one that’s all blue everywhere) is a travel photographers dream, and Marrakech, with its old winding alleyways left just like they always were, melded with its more modern ways, makes it its very own kind of special.
What it’s known for: One of the world’s best marketplaces (or medinas) for goods and spices, mint tea and the most exotic town square, Djemaa el Fna, where you’ll see real life snake charmers doing their thing.
Why go: Because the mint tea is first rate, you’ll ride a camel through the desert and you’ll be swimming in color everywhere you go.
This former coconut plantation turned tourist resort, was designed with leisure in mind and is now serving up just that, with bookings there up 69 percent.
What it’s known for: Resort life, good Mexican food, swimming with dolphins.
Why go: This is good for those who enjoy the comforts of huge hotels and easy living. If you’re looking for more Mexican culture, however, this may not be your place.
Vibrant doesn’t really seem to suffice for describing this Indian city, but it will have to do for now since I don’t know a word that outdoes it. From mosques to shopping bazaars for saris and boating over to Elephanta Island to scope caves and carved temples, there’s little that won’t leave you stimulated in Mumbai, which is probably why bookings are up 69 percent.
What it’s known for: Color, crowds, culture, chaos, cuisine, and ancient architecture, of course.
Why go: Because, India.
Scotland may not be the first place that comes to mind for summer travel, but 69 percent more people are paying attention to Glasgow and what the city has to offer.
What it’s known for: Live music, grand art galleries, Victorian and art nouveau architecture.
Why go: Because you could take in some art, sit for tea and wash down the day with a pint at a pub.
Any place known as the Promised Land is worth a visit, no matter what or who you believe in. Israel is rich in culture and history and conflict, and old and new worlds congregate in the country. It’s little surprise 56 percent more bookings were made to Israel this year than last—people are trying to get some of that good sacred stuff in their lives.
What it’s known for: Religion, supreme sunrises over Jerusalem’s Old City, A-grade Mediterranean Sea beaches in Tel Aviv, and the Dead Sea.
Why go: Because the world is a mess right now and some extra prayers at the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall) couldn’t hurt.