Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Experiential vacations all the rage

Katherine Stone of the blog "Decent Marketing" recently covered an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, showing that the "experience" people have while on vacation is becoming exponentially more important than the sites seen, ultimate destination, etc. The article naturally quotes high-ticket experiences (like touring Italy's wineries by hot-air balloon, visiting the Titanic via deep-sea submarine, etc), but I think that this simple quest for experience is profoundly affecting even the poorest backpacking travelers out there as well. Whenever I self-publish one of my own travel books, for example, the vast majority of comments I receive from readers are never about the churches and museums I saw, but rather the conversations with locals I had, the chances to sneak off to underground indie-rock clubs, etc. You're seeing more and more of this among all strata of international travelers - a desire to not just go someplace so to say that you've been, but rather to get immersed in the experience of it all, whether that's driving a Porsche in the Alps or simply flirting with a cute Scottish boy at a cafe in Edinburgh. (Are there any other kind of Scottish boys, really?) It'll be interesting, I think, to see how the mainstream tourism industry responds to such a change, and especially interesting to see how such backpacking resources as hostels might react as well.