Travel that Teaches
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Why memorable adventures may be the greatest luxury of all

Move over, diamonds and sports cars. “Experience is the new definition of luxury,” says Daniel Levine, trends expert at the Avant-Guide Institute, a global travel consultancy. In fact, 83% of affluent Americans say they’d rather spend money on travel than on luxury items, according to the 2015 Survey of Affluence and Wealth co-produced by YouGov and Time Inc.

But not just any kind of travel. “Luxury travel is not so much about what you see when you are there, it is about what you keep when you go back home,” says Levine, who recently ventured to South Africa, where he assisted a veterinarian examining elephants. “Just going to watch animals is passé; you want to go and help out.”

Here are five ways today’s travelers get the most out of their experiences.

Live it up—and learn. In the YouGov/Time Inc. survey, 55% of respondents named “learning something new” as a major travel goal. Levine says hotels are building rooftop beekeeping operations and on-site chocolate-making labs where guests can learn how to make honey and gourmet chocolate.

A family affair. The survey found that 65% of respondents are passionate about spending quality time with family, and 55% say their last vacation was a family one. “From the moment a baby is born, you only have 16 summers before they start preferring their time with friends rather than you,” notes Steve Sims, founder of concierge services company, The Bluefish.

Venturing further. Going someplace new was cited by 60% of respondents as a goal for the coming year. In place of a traditional cruise, some families rent a canal boat and tour France’s waterways. “The canals go through people’s backyards—you’re really off the beaten path,” says Levine.

Vetting the vacation. According to Deloitte’s Travel Consumer 2015 report, 42% of those surveyed read online reviews before planning their last trip. Yet the sheer volume of online information can overwhelm. “We’re seeing a resurgence in travel agents,” reports Levine. Sometimes, he says, “you need a curator who can narrow things down for you.”

Caring to share. The only thing better than traveling is letting the world know what you did. In fact, 75% of millennials post status updates, pictures and videos of their trips to social networks, according to The G Brief, a consulting group.

And travelers of all ages have become avid online videographers and reviewers of the places they’ve visited.

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