Staci Blunt, seen here on Molokai, still has plenty of bucket-list items awaiting her in Hawaii. // © 2015 Staci Blunt
Feature image (above): Watching the sunset from the top of Mauna Kea is one of Hawaii's distinctive bucket list activities. // © 2015 Hawaii Forest and Trail
When Staci Blunt was 3 years old, her mother took her on a cross-country road trip, and she still remembers the thrill of going somewhere new. Subsequent family vacations made similar impressions on her. After high school, a six-week European adventure clinched it: She knew she wanted a career in travel.
In 2004, Blunt launched Vacation Visions in Chandler, Ariz. Today, she works with a range of markets including families, romance travelers, honeymooners and couples planning destination weddings. A specialist in the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe and cruises, she is particularly passionate about Hawaii, her favorite destination in the world.
Lately, Blunt has noticed an increase in clients requesting Hawaii for bucket-list travel, especially from the U.S. West Coast. She discusses that trend here.
Why are more people asking for a bucket-list vacation to Hawaii?
I believe that many U.S. consumers are becoming more aware of and interested in experiential trips and activities, and less interested in materialism. Families want to spend quality time together, and a good vacation has certainly become a memory-maker.
Hawaii, better than many destinations, seems to offer something for everyone, from beaches and nature to culture, sports and adventure.
What types of clients are booking bucket-list travel to Hawaii?
Many travelers who consider Hawaii a bucket-list destination have traveled within the mainland U.S. and are curious about visiting our 50th state, which is made up entirely of islands. Or, they have been to international destinations first without yet making it to Hawaii, which isn’t international but feels that way.
Older travelers who have the time and money certainly go to Hawaii. Over the years, experiential honeymoon and multigenerational travel to Hawaii has grown. Younger millennials want to take exploratory trips there. And, the bucket-list cruising segment seems to be growing, since you can visit more than one Hawaiian island in the same trip.
Why is Hawaii a great place for bucket-list travel?
It’s safe, yet exotic at the same time. It offers familiarity, but it’s essentially different. It has offerings that simply cannot be found elsewhere in the U.S., such as tropical rainforests, humpback whales, unique culture and a national park with an active volcano. That in itself makes it a bucket-list destination.
How can bucket-list travel be profitable for travel agents?
Bucket-list travel can be very profitable for agents because for each client, they’re planning the trip of a lifetime. Bucket-list vacations usually include more exclusive accommodations, more unique cultural and/or adventure activities and more upscale dining options.
The bucket-list client wants a very special, customized trip, not just a week’s stay to lie on the beach and soak in the sun.
What’s on your personal Hawaii bucket list?
I have been very lucky over the years to do most things on my Hawaii bucket list. But I haven’t yet traveled to the Mauna Kea observatories on Hawaii Island, tried tubing the ditch on Kauai, ridden a mule to Kalaupapa on Molokai, stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay or done a shark dive on Oahu.
Those all remain quests for me. I would also love to spend a week living like a “kamaaina” [longtime island resident] and getting to know the “real” Hawaii better from the local perspective.