As Americans plan their summer getaways in the midst of this country’s strange and unstable approach to foreign relations, some vacationers are opting to stay closer to home and explore their own country, according to reports by global luxury travel network Virtuoso.

The scenery and diversity of national parks appeal to families and adventurers alike when the temperatures warm up. Europe is always desirable for its history, culture, cuisine and abundant luxury offerings.

In particular, Spain has become quite popular as it offers better value compared to other spots in Western Europe. South Africa’s winter season is getting noticed for its excellent viewing conditions for wildlife and whale watching.

The Virtuoso Top 10:

The most popular destinations for the summer of 2019, according to bookings:

  1. United States
  2. Italy
  3. United Kingdom
  4. France
  5. Greece
  6. South Africa
  7. Spain
  8. Germany
  9. Ireland
  10. Netherlands

The Virtuoso Hot 10:

The countries that have experienced the largest year-over-year percentage increases in summer bookings:

  1. Chile (+410%)
  2. India (+173%)
  3. Puerto Rico (+149%)
  4. Philippines (+129%)
  5. Belgium (+111%)
  6. Kenya (+89%)
  7. Egypt (+76%)
  8. Singapore (+73%)
  9. Costa Rica (+67%)
  10. Dominican Republic (+58%)

Following a trend first spotted in spring 2019, Chile continues its upswing in popularity by offering a variety of terrain, from the Atacama Desert to the Lake District to the Andes Mountains to wine valleys. India and the Philippines are among the more exotic destinations luring visitors with their ability to deliver on the authenticity so desired by luxe travelers.

Kenya offers outstanding safari opportunities as well as the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and beaches. Travelers looking for sun and sand are escaping to Caribbean destinations such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Pop culture tourism is fueling interest in Singapore, the setting for the hit film “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Family Travel Trends

Meanwhile, how travelers move through these destinations and with whom they choose to travel are also the subject of trends this summer, according to Virtuoso.

Millennials have been the most influential generation, but now there’s a new kid in town: Generation Z. This group, born at the turn of the millennium or after, is set to comprise 32% of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019. Millennials will account for 31.5%. One study puts Gen Z’s buying power at more than $500 billion. They may be young, but Gen Zers have strong opinions and exert considerable influence over travel decisions by:

  1. Influencing others’ choices via word of mouth, social media and reviews.
  2. Involving themselves in planning trips.
  3. Persuading others to embrace their desire for more active experiences.
  4. Seeking out unusual destinations.
  5. Looking for highly visual locations and activities that highlight their exciting lives on social media.

Gen Zers have a great deal of clout over family and peer travel decisions. Worldlier at an earlier age than previous generations, they were born with a passport in hand and are determined to explore. The more off-the-beaten-path, the better, as social media factors significantly in their drive for more unique experiences.

Top Family Travel Genres

  1. Active or adventure trips
  2. Multigenerational trips
  3. Beach resort stays
  4. Celebration travel
  5. Touring (guided or private)
  6. Mother/daughter or father/son trips
  7. Cultural immersion
  8. Ocean cruising
  9. Educational trips
  10. River cruises

Hottest Family Travel Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Mexico
  3. Hawaii
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. England
  6. South Africa
  7. Costa Rica
  8. France
  9. Dominican Republic
  10. Spain

Italy has remained a family favorite for a decade, and Europe’s overall appeal is strong, with England, France and Spain also appearing on the list, according the Virtuoso research.

Families looking to unwind under sunny skies are heading to Mexico, Hawaii and the Dominican Republic. With its abundance of theme parks and warm weather, Orlando is a natural choice for families. Dovetailing with the adventure travel trend, families are voyaging to destinations noted for active experiences such as South Africa and Costa Rica.

Top 10 Unconventional Family Destinations

  1. Iceland
  2. Galapagos Islands
  3. Cuba
  4. Antarctica
  5. Morocco
  6. Japan
  7. Egypt
  8. Bhutan
  9. Rwanda
  10. India

Discovering and navigating new destinations is a top travel motivator and seeking unusual places is a Gen Z priority, so it’s no surprise families are searching for lesser-known and more remote parts of the world. In particular, pristine destinations such as Iceland (which has topped the category three consecutive years), the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica are trending.

The desire for authenticity and deep cultural interactions is driving families to places such as Cuba and Bhutan. Well-traveled families are also moving beyond tried-and-true spots to experience Asia and Africa.