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Unique Types of Tourism You've Probably Never Heard Of

The goal of travel is pretty simple: get away from the usual day-to-day grind, relax, visit new places, and have fun. Some people choose to match their getaway with a hobby or interest, like culinary globetrotting. Other travelers plan socially conscious trips, based on causes important to them.

But beyond there, there are unusual types of tourism you may never have heard of, geared for those who prefer to explore the unique locales of the world on their own terms.

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01Alphatourism

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The alphabet becomes your guide with this type of tourism. Once travelers arrive at their destination, they find the street index on a local map and identify the first one listed alphabetically, then the last one, and draw a line on the map to connect them. The goal is to follow the line, taking in as much as you can between the two points.

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02True crime tourism

Illuminated cobbled street in old city by night with dark silhouette PytyCzech / Getty Images

The fan base for true crime shows and podcasts has grown exponentially over the last several years. In 2020 alone, an array of true crime documentaries stayed in Netflix’s top slot for 58 days straight, and the demand for more remains high.

That obsession has also become a type of tourism. Visiting sites of gruesome crime scenes — taking Jack the Ripper walking tours in London, touring Vlad the Impaler’s Transylvania killing grounds, or exploring Ted Bundy’s hunting grounds throughout the West Coast of the U.S. — are popular choices.

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03Contretourism

woman taking selfie pisa ViktorCap / Getty Images

Rebels of traditional tourism head to the most popular tourist sites on the planet, then ignore them and focus on the surroundings around the site.

Instead of concentrating on the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, they might turn their attention to the beautiful Field of Miracles, the bell tower of Pisa Cathedral, the Knights Square palace, or the many boutiques and cafes along the Borgo Stretto.

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04Erotourism

couple vacationing france serts / Getty Images

For couples who need to spice up their relationship, erotourism might be the answer. Partners plan a visit to the same destination, but without a fixed meeting point. These romantically inspired individuals spend their time exploring the city, searching for each other.

They may choose to send photo clues to the other to provide hints about their whereabouts. Others prefer to tap into their instincts and knowledge about their partner’s habits to find the most likely spot where they’d be. The reward is not only finding each other but exploring an unfamiliar destination and discovering new things to share once you’ve met up again.

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05Monopolytourism

closeup view of miniature liberty statue character on desktop game yevtony / Getty Images

One of the most popular board games in the world, Monopoly has a massive number of fans who have discovered a way to combine their passion with travel. Not only can you find Monopoly games featuring iconic national parks to tour, but a select number of cities sell local versions, too.

Instead of properties like Boardwalk or St. Charles Place, the squares feature nearby sites and landmarks. Monopoly groupies use these games to map out their travel plans using a simple roll of the dice.

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06Tombstone tourism

sunset cemetery tombstones mammuth / Getty Images

Although visiting graveyards and burial sites isn’t a new pastime, tombstone tourism has grown in popularity over the last several years. With all the DNA testing available to trace our roots, more travelers are turning their getaways into fact-finding missions to discover where their ancestors lived, died, and were buried. Others seek out the burial sites of historic figures, heroes, or famous writers and musicians.

It may sound a bit morbid, but cemeteries not only provide important historical and cultural lessons but are often some of the most beautiful spots on the map.

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07Industrial tourism

Workers at a distillery Kelvin Murray / Getty Images

Different areas of the world depend on a specific type of industry and have become famous for it. Bordeaux, France is home to 65 wine areas. Switzerland is renowned for its watchmaking, Scotland for its whiskey, and Brazil for its coffee.

Travelers who have a passion for industry create itineraries that include visits to factories, vineyards, distilleries, and sites that hold historical significance for the industry. Countries with top honors for industrial tourism include Japan, Germany, the U.K., and the Netherlands.

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08Set-jetting tourism

Reynisdrangar on Reynisfjara Beach demerzel21 / Getty Images

A lot of people love watching movies. But a number of globetrotters are willing to go anywhere on the planet to visit the locales and sets of their favorite films. Set-jetting can even go beyond seeing the area. A few of the destinations provide immersive experiences connected to the film. Tourism organizations have even created set-jetting travel maps to help travelers experience an array of movie locales.

Itineraries focusing on Harry Potter, James Bond, and Elizabeth, the Golden Age are popular choices for set-jetters.

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09Battlefield tourism

Cannon at Antietam Erin Egnatz / Getty Images

Travelers interested in military history may choose to spend their vacations exploring famous battlefields around the world. The U.S. National Park Service offers passports to a long list of battlefields that are now located within the borders of federally owned parks.

Several battlefields in the U.K., including Hastings, Bosworth, Culloden, and the World War I Western Front, make the list of popular battlefield destinations.

 

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10Ghost tourism

Abandoned railway line in Paris Roman Vershinin / Getty Images

Cities across the globe offer ghost tours, most of which operate year-round for those hoping for a ghost sighting. Washington, D.C. is a hotbed of apparitions, according to supernatural experts. The historic Oak Hill Cemetery, where President Lincoln’s son Willie is buried alongside 20,000 others, is a prime spot for ghostly encounters.

In Australia, tourists can book a nighttime excursion through the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, where ghosts of former patients roam the halls. Beneath the city of Paris, France, in a web of tunnels called the Mines of Paris, visitors might see a ghost near the abandoned railway or in the catacombs.

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11Aerotourism

Airport terminal, T4 Madrid ManuelVelasco / Getty Images

Explorers with lots of time but scant travel funds may choose aerotourism.

Most of us take for granted the architecture, artwork, and the many little spaces inside an airport. Instead of boarding the plane and heading to a new destination, these travelers go to an airport and explore every nook and cranny of it, from top to bottom. This can also be an option for those stuck in an airport during an exceptionally long layover or a missed or canceled flight.

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12Atomic tourism

chernobyl apartment buildings kefirm / Getty Images

It may not be most people’s idea of a dream vacation, but there are those who seek out destinations tied to the world’s atomic history and its nuclear weapons. Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the Nevada Test Site, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, and the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant in Russia are among the most popular sites on the destination list.

For an inside look at the stories and legacy of the Manhattan Project, atomic tourists can head to Los Alamos, New Mexico for a walking tour and interactive exhibits at Bradbury Science Museum.

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13Disaster tourism

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum Filippo Maria Bianchi / Getty Images

The aftereffects of famous disasters and places with a dark history fascinate some travelers, who might plan trips to assassinations sites, such as those of Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy . Concentration camps, the 9/11 Memorial, and Hiroshima are also popular destinations.

Many disaster tourists flocked to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina to see its devastation firsthand.

 

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14Jailoo tourism

man woman fire yurt Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

These tourists look for the untouched corners of the world far from the reach of civilization when planning a getaway. Whether it’s the Amazon jungle, a forest in Siberia, or spectacular mountains across Asia, this type of travel is not for the inexperienced explorer nor those who aren’t in excellent physical health.

A number of jailoo tourists immerse themselves in local cultures, such as staying in a shepherd’s yurt in Mongolia and learning customs from the locals there.

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15Sagittatourism

dart on map chrisboy2004 / Getty Images

For those adventurers who are up for anything, Sagittatourism is a unique and exciting way to choose destinations. Hang a map on the wall, step back, close your eyes, and throw a dart at the map. Wherever the dart lands is the chosen destination.

While it may not be the preferred method for everyone, this type of travel does spark interest for explorers who prefer remote, less-traveled places on the globe.

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