V isn't always for Victory: Are you a savvy traveler?
In Europe, there's always time for vacation
In Egypt, EU chief meets Morsi: Is there a solution on the horizon?
"Most Chinese tourists do not seek out great hotels or care much about the food," says Wei Xiao'an, a former senior official at China's National Tourism Administration. "Many of them don't even pay much attention to the scenery; their top priority is shopping."
That is partly because Chinese taxes on imported goods, especially luxury items, are high and because Chinese travel agencies strike deals with malls that pay them a commission on all their clients' purchases.
"It's the main way the agencies make money," says Mr. Wei.
(Read more: Can Spain's Tourism Industry Survive a Tax Rise?)
Russians and Chinese are the globe's burgeoning tourists, but the trends are reflected across the emerging world. In June of this year, 155,000 South Koreans traveled overseas, a 21 percent increase over 2011, according to Hana Tour, South Korea's largest travel agency.
Over five years, the percentage of Brazilians who said they planned to travel abroad has risen steadily. In June 2008, 19 percent said they would go abroad, according to polling by the university Fundação Getúlio Vargas and the Brazilian Tourism Ministry. In June of this year, that number rose to 29 percent.
Part of the impulse is the "been there" factor. André Coelho, a specialist in tourism at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, says that Brazilians travel often to Europe and the United States, as well as Caribbean beaches and popular South American sites.
"A Brazilian likes to say that he traveled abroad in his conversations, to say, 'I've been to Paris; I know that place,' " he says.
In Pakistan, foreign travel has been buoyed in part because of persistent problems at home. Pakistan's northern areas have become increasingly off limits to travelers, prompting them to look elsewhere for vacation options. Areas like the Swat Valley, a scenic and popular vacation spot, faced a brutal Pakistani Taliban insurgency and military operation, followed by flooding in 2010. A recent attack on foreign tourists on a mountaineering expedition to Nanga Parbat in the Himalayan range is also forcing potential travelers to stay away from the Gilgit-Baltistan region, which is home to several other popular vacation spots.
(Read more: Greece Bets on Tourism Turnaround)
Instead, they are opting to leave the country, going to places that have more relaxed visa requirements, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.
In some countries, travelers look beyond their borders simply because it's cheaper. In South Africa, for example, travel consultant Julia Barnett says that travel within the continent is too expensive for most South Africans, especially when compared with the Far East with its plethora of budget options.
That means certain countries are losing out on a growing industry – like Russia, which still suffers from bad roads, undeveloped facilities, and surly service, to which the post-Soviet era has added extremely high prices. While domestic tourism grows by about 10 percent annually, foreign tourism is up 15 percent each year.
"We're a cold, northern country, and many of our compatriots understandably want to vacation near a warm sea," says Irina Shchegolkova, press spokeswoman for the governmental Federal Agency for Tourism. But she says the government is stepping up efforts to promote domestic tourism, from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. "We think that with more investment, and a lot more efforts, most Russians in the future are going to start seeing their own country as the place they most want to take a vacation in."
But for now, the wanderlust of going "beyond" is driving the world's travelers, as the tourism landscape changes as quickly as the new global economic map.