Instead of spending a week at Disneyland or the beach, imagine spending time exploring ancient ruins in Egypt or Arizona, visiting South American farms to learn about local agricultural systems, or trekking the Amazon rainforest to harvest herbs for medicine and tea.
It's a concept called "experiential travel" where vacation doesn't mean "zoning out," but rather spending time to learn about the vacation destination either from local experts or hands-on experience.
A 2006 travel industry survey found that more than half of Americans are interested in this type of travel, and according to Travelzoo's Gabe Saglie, it's comparable to the grown-up version of studying abroad.
Saglie says it's also one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry — especially thanks to Baby Boomers who are no longer content with being just tourists, but want to be travelers who go on an adventure, instead of just a sightseeing vacation.
Travelzoo's recommended destinations include:
New Orleans — Jazz Fest in New Orleans
Features the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 27 – May 6) - a great way to learn about New Orleans culture and see the most famous jazz musicians in real life. 3-Night packages from $328.
Southwest United States — Trail of the Ancients National Parks Adventures
A national park adventure offered May, June, and July great for all physical levels/abilities, travelers explore the best ruins and cliff dwellings of the Southwest in red canyons, painted desert, and high mesa tops settings. $895 for one week.
The Amazon Rainforest — Tambopata
Great for learning about ecotourism, wildlife and local systems of agriculture, meditation and spiritual development.
Egypt — Egyptian Treasures: From Abu Simbel to Alexandria
See ancient Egypt, the Pyramids, the Temples at Abu Simbel, and much more with the services of a Professional Egyptologist. From $3,099 for 11 days.
Namibia — The Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha
Culture, history, and wildlife are the objects of this trip, including stays/stops at a conservancy and game park, historic forts and castles in the capital city of Windhoek, and the opportunity to explore desert canyons. From $3549 for 11 days.
For more on these trips and other experiential travel destinations, visit www.travelzoo.com/tv