The top trending international destinations on Americans' travel wish lists for 2024
With a new year comes new possibilities and avenues for adventure. As COVID-19 wanes further, more and more Americans are looking abroad for their next getaway. According to the International Trade Administration, more Americans have flown overseas each month of 2023 so far than in 2019.
A survey conducted by YouGov in 2022 revealed that 35% of respondents agreed travel has become more important to them since the pandemic. But where are they going?
Airalo looked at data from Skyscanner and found international destinations with the greatest increase in searches from Americans. The 10 cities on this list saw the most significant increase in U.S.-based searches between July 2022 and July 2023 compared to the same period in 2021 and 2022.
These trending searches reveal Americans are imagining themselves on a beach with their toes in the sand next year, with six of the 10 destinations in tropical locations. Others are picturing themselves eating sushi or skiing under the shadow of Mount Fuji (Japan made the list twice).
No matter where the destination, American travelers seem to be channeling philosopher Alain de Botton's words, "There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places."
Without further ado, here are the places on Americans' travel wishlists.
#9. Oranjestad, Aruba (tie)
- Increase in searches over the last year: 155%
Oranjestad is Aruba's gem of a seaside capital peppered with Dutch colonial architecture amid palm trees.
Travelers will be enamored right from the get-go with a scenic linear park that connects the airport along the coast to Oranjestad. The city's tram connects its cruise ship terminals to Main Street and downtown, making sightseeing and shopping a breeze.
Those looking to explore outside the city can enjoy some natural wonders. At Flamingo Beach on Renaissance Island, tourists can swim or lounge next to these majestic birds of paradise. The Butterfly Farm, about a 15-minute drive north of the city, offers magical opportunities to get up close to beautiful, colorful creatures.
#9. St. Maarten (tie)
- Increase in searches over the last year: 155%
Tied with Oranjestad is another Caribbean island. St. Maarten, a country with deep Dutch ties, occupies the southern part of this island, while French-owned St. Martin takes up the north. With friendly borders, this shared island makes it easy for tourists to jump from fine French Caribbean food to a quiet beach on the Dutch part.
There are 37 breathtaking beaches between the two territories for beachcombers to enjoy during the day. At night, St. Maarten does have an edge over St. Martin; its casinos and nightlife offer travelers more opportunities to party after sunset.
#8. Taipei, Taiwan
- Increase in searches over the last year: 177%
Taiwan's capital, Taipei, took an economic hit due to pandemic restrictions and political tensions, but this lively city has seen a slow comeback in recent years due to its famed festivals. The Taiwan Lantern Festival on Lunar New Year attracted over 1 million visitors in 2023 alone, cloaking the city in the glow of a million lanterns. Colorfully painted dragon boats race down the river to the rhythm of drums at the annual Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate the Chinese poet Qu Yuan.
Visits outside of festival seasons can still yield exciting experiences. Year-round activities include chowing down on all sorts of meals at Ningxia Night Market's open-air food stalls, stepping into a tea lover's haven at Maokong, and hiking through the Yangmingshan National Park for those who want to go further afield. The city's diversity and exhilarating festivals make Taipei popular for all types of travelers.
- Increase in searches over the last year: 184%
Another sunny island escape made the list—it's time to fish out your Bermuda shorts. The British island territory Bermuda is famous for its pink sand and luxury spas and hotels, but it offers much more. Art lovers will enjoy ogling the city of Hamilton's many murals and installations, the art collection displayed at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, or the historical and decorative art collection at the Bermuda National Gallery.
It is also home to St. George's, the oldest English town in the New World. The port city was founded in 1612 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. While there, don't forget to dive into Bermuda's endless aquatic activities or explore its famous shipwrecks at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Of course, travelers can just lay back, take in the area's pastel cottages, and sip its signature rum cocktails (dark 'n' stormy and Bermuda rum swizzle).
#6. Bucharest, Romania
- Increase in searches over the last year: 190%
Located in eastern Europe, Bucharest is steeped in rich history. Tourists fill their days visiting museums, monuments, and medieval castles before relaxing in one of Bucharest's many outdoor beer gardens and bars.
A testament to Romanian architects is the Palace of Parliament, one of the biggest administrative buildings in the world. It also houses the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which has four floors of exhibition space and offers stunning city views of Bucharest.
The Spotlight Festival has quickly become a highlight of the city, attracting many tourists. This international open-air festival lights up Bucharest's famous buildings and brings to life monuments with multimedia lights and videos.
#5. US Virgin Islands
- Increase in searches over the last year: 198%
Nestled just off the coast of Puerto Rico sits many small but mighty islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, which comprise St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, and Water Island. These exuberant islands are a popular stopover for cruises, and year-round warm weather attracts sailors and boaters.
For many tourists, the allure of these islands comes in the form of a leisurely animal. The Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge on the island of St. Croix is home to many endangered sea turtle species. Tourists and locals do their part to ensure these beach nests are kept safe.
This island also offers a fast lane—just follow the smell of fried fish and the sound of steel drums to meet ecstatic street dancers dressed in colorful feathered costumes. The vibrant Virgin Islands Carnival is a celebration of culture that occurs at different times of the year depending on the island and continues attracting people from all over the world.
#4. Tokyo, Japan
- Increase in searches over the last year: 201%
Modern skyscrapers stretch across the horizon of Tokyo, and towering above them all sits the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji. Tokyo's labyrinthine transportation system is one of the world's largest and most efficient in the world, making getting from iconic temples and gardens to the Tokyo Skytree and Michelin-star restaurants a breeze.
Anime and manga fans worldwide travel to visit some of their must-see locations and shops. In the city's Akihabara neighborhood, the main street closes to car traffic on Sundays to make way for anime and manga lovers looking for their next treasure.
Winter sports enthusiasts happily take off work to spend a week on the slopes in Hakuba, northwest of Tokyo. No wonder this all-encompassing city has seen an increase of over 200% in searches in the last year.
#3. Osaka, Japan
- Increase in searches over the last year: 210%
Located on the southern coast of Japan, Osaka is nicknamed "Japan's Kitchen" owing to its endless supply of mouth-watering street food stalls and fresh portside seafood. Many flock to Dotonbori, where illuminated signs and giant billboards never fail to whip up an appetite for food connoisseurs.
More history-minded travelers wander through the grounds at Osaka Castle, especially in the springtime when cherry blossoms bloom, or see a masked drama at the Ohtsuki Noh Theater, which dates back to 1935. Kids will have fun on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel or Universal Studios Japan. Only a short bus ride away is Nara Park, where deer eat crackers out of the hands of willing tourists.
#2. French Polynesia
- Increase in searches over the last year: 227%
Clustered in the South Pacific, French Polynesia includes over 100 little islands. Tourists are eager to stay in the famous thatch-roofed overwater bungalows, some with glass floors on the terrace, allowing guests to watch the marine life dance below.
Perhaps one of the most famed islands in French Polynesia is Tahiti, home to a heavy barreling wave just offshore in the small village of Teahupo'o. The best surfers in the world travel to test their skills on this incredible wave with professional photographers nearby, ready to catch it all.
But beyond the pristine beaches, what makes French Polynesia truly special are the locals who retain a deep connection to the land and their ancestors and are working to keep it alive, from Virginie Biret, one of the few people who still know the Polynesian quilting technique called "tifaifai" to chef Nahema Charles, who offers a pescatarian menu at Pura Vida.
#1. Cayman Islands
- Increase in searches over the last year: 483%
Three main islands make up the Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, which are home to spectacular scuba diving sites, not to mention rare wildlife like blue iguanas and red-footed boobies.
Travelers can find many of the territory's attractions on Grand Cayman. At Stingray City, people can feed wild stingrays in the shallow sandbar. Those looking for a more subterranean adventure can check out the Cayman Crystal Caves, where giant stalagmites and stalactites encompass the caves where Blackbeard supposedly hid.
Bioluminescent Bay is a spectacle worth taking the trip for alone. Single-celled plankton in the water light up when disturbed, so the ocean glows at night.
Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.
This story originally appeared on Airalo and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.