Granted, everyone needs nourishment when they're out on the road, but a growing number of U.S. travelers are planning their leisure trips around food.
Instead of museums, sports events and family gatherings being the ultimate destination, more people are decamping for food festivals, special meals and even cooking classes and workshops.
"The attraction to culinary tours in the U.S. is that people don't have to travel far or for a long period of time to get away for a vacation," said Beth Whitman, founder of destination tour company WanderTours. Culinary travel is becoming so popular that Whitman has found Airbnb hosts elbowing into the business.
On a recent visit to California's Napa Valley, "our Airbnb owner not only hosted a group of 10 of us in his home, but he prepared a gourmet dinner complete with lobster, oysters and enough Napa Valley wine to satisfy everyone," she told CNBC recently.
A 2013 report from Mandala Research on culinary (or gastronomic) travel classified 77 percent of all U.S. leisure travelers, or about 131 million, as culinary travelers. That was based on their participation in food-related activities during trips away from home over a three-year period.
The report also noted a marked increase in culinary-focused travel: Half (51 percent) of all leisure travelers said they travel specifically to learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences. That was up double digits from 2006, when 40 percent surveyed at that time said they traveled for these reasons.