As you figure out where to travel this summer, you could make your decisions easy and go to the typical destinations, or maybe that one place your best friend won't stop sharing throwback photos from. You could go way off the beaten track — someplace with no WiFi for miles. Or, you could choose a middle ground: Visit somewhere that's just about to be trendy, but is still relatively quiet and affordable. For that, Airbnb's latest list of the top 10 "trending destinations" for summer can be your cheat sheet.
By trending destinations, Airbnb explains in a press release, the company's statisticians mean that these are the towns and cities that have experienced the highest percentage of growth from last year to this year. So these aren't the hottest places to visit just yet, but for some reason, people are taking much more notice of them than they have in the past. That makes for quite an eclectic list.
At No. 1 is Valenciennes, France, a small town in the northern part of the country, bordering Belgium. It's not exactly a famous historical destination — though it dates back to medieval times, most of its buildings were destroyed in World Wars I and II. But it is in France, so there's great food there, and a well-regarded art museum. What might really set it apart, however, is the Scarpe-Escaut Natural Regional Park, which is the kind of natural landscape that reminds you of fairy tales and period dramas.
Changsha, China (No. 2), and Wuhan, China (No. 5), are also cities you may not have heard of yet, making them pretty good deals. Changsha is the capital of Hunan province in the center of the country, and much of it burned down in 1938, but there are Han dynasty tombs to explore and a modern city to enjoy, not to mention some gorgeous lakes, mountains, and the Xiang River to visit. Wuhan is another central Chinese city surrounded by natural beauty. It also has quite the nightlife and street food scene.
We're going to bet that Matsudo, Japan (No.3), is on the rise for Airbnb because it's basically a suburb of Tokyo — a city that is not cheap for tourists or anyone else. Why not rent a comfortable apartment and then hop on the train into the city like all those commuters?
There are four cities on this list whose rise year over year has a sad backstory. Marigot, St. Martin (4), and the Puerto Rican towns of Dorado (6), Vieques (7), and Rio Grande (8), were all in the paths of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. They're not completely rebuilt yet, but their beaches are still beautiful, so this is a good time to enjoy them and put money back into their economies.
Last, but not least, are Yeosu, South Korea, and Bragg Creek, Canada. Yeosu is a seaside city that gained international attention as home to the World Expo in 2012, and continues to draw tourists to its beaches, parks, and aquarium. Across the world and far from sea level is the town of Bragg Creek, near Calgary, which serves as the base camp for all kinds of Rocky Mountain adventures.
We still can't tell if there's anything all of those places have in common, other than their relative obscurity and natural beauty. How about you visit them and let us know whether the trendsetters were right?