While in the middle of sun salutations at a chic Himalayan retreat one afternoon between dosha-balancing meals, massages to meant to relax and restore, and oil-dripping shirodara treatments to soothe and invigorate I realized all of this wasnt enough. I wanted something more.I asked my yoga teacher where I could take a class that might be more rigorous, more real than what Id just experienced after all, I was in India, believed to be the birthplace of yoga thousands of years ago. The next two days at 5:30 a.m., I practiced alongside a guru at the shala on the Ganges with about 50 others. The imposing guru barked out the asanas in Sanskrit and used my ponytail as a handle to get me into a backbend he knew I was ready for. After class, he invited me to lunch, then to the temple to pay respects to Hanuman, the monkey god, and to be part of the daily ceremony in which incense is burned and sent to the heavens. Not the sort of thing youd find on most peoples bucket list, but Id happily travel halfway across the world to have an experience like that again its that moment when you find yourself in a foreign place no longer feeling like an outsider, but feeling centered in the midst of whats going on around you. Experiential travel, travel thats about the experience and feeling one has while traveling of being in a particular place, part of the local scene and culture is a growing trend, especially among the well-traveled set.Because after youve done the Louvre with a private guide at midnight when its closed to the public (check), stayed in at the George V (check) and taken a balloon ride over Chianti in the fall while the olive harvest is going on (check), what do you do next? I think people have moved beyond collecting brand-name hotels or destinations as status symbols in travel just as many have gotten tired of brand-name designer labels, says Melissa Briggs Bradley, founder and CEO the New York-based luxury travel company Indagare (and former travel editor of Town & Country magazine). They are looking for more tailored and personalized trips because they deliver a more powerful experience than just following the crowds. So, with journey is the destination as the new goal not the postcard-worthy sights a particular place might offer the luxury of the trip is in the details. Which is how bespoke travel companies like Indagare are now designing trips for their clients. It starts with getting to know them well. Really well. To elicit a particular clients likes, dislikes, dreams (and quirks, such as one travelers refusal to stay in a hotel with two faucets or another who would never take more than 45 minutes for a meal), London-based bespoke travel agency Brown & Hudson sends all new clients a 16-page questionnaire that includes open-ended queries, like, Is there anything youve always wanted to try? and What would you like to get out of this trip?We are a cross between a therapist and an investigative journalist, says Philippe Brown, who started the company seven years ago after he worked as a guide for Butterfield & Robinson, and before that, in the advertising business. Its a process of creation rather than sales, so its perfectly suited to people whove traveled a great deal, whove done it all, and it starts with the client.It also starts with a $1,700 upfront fee to pay for the sort of in-depth research thats required to, say, arrange for a meeting with one of Charles Darwins grandsons in advance of a Galapagos trip for a family in London, which Brown did recently. Which is part of understanding on a deeper level the reason behind a particular trip for that individual client. Theres something were looking for that we need that isnt available to us where we are, Brown says. Why are you traveling on this particular occasion? Themes that might come back are: a desire to escape from the day-to-day, adventure, curiosity, break in the routine or be anonymous, often. Well tie that into wellness and growth and self-development. When were not developing, we encounter a blockage, and thats often resolved through travel. Travel as therapy often means being open to an experience thats not on an itinerary, and to some level of risk. That requires a breaking away from the organized guides and tours and a comfort level that you have at home. Because the point is youre not at home, and youve gone through a great deal of trouble (airports, taxis and boats) to get to where you are, so why not give in and soak up every part of that experience?Its not for everyone. Some people dont want that much authenticity they simply want to do what they usually do, but in another place, the travel experts say. Not only do people crave different types of travel experiences, they may have different travel needs depending on where they are in their lives at that particular time. Major life changes, such as divorce, kids leaving home or a job that just ended often precede travel in order to heal and renew. Theres something for everyone, says Lauren Maggard, a luxury travel consultant with Jet Set World Travel in Chicago, who started the company seven years ago with Julia Douglas, her flatmate while attending Sothebys Art Institute in London (they bonded over a love of travel and weekend trips to Paris, Barcelona and Venice without an itinerary). We try to get as much information from them on the front end in order to build the right trip.All beach vacations arent the same, even on the same island, and even among five-star resorts, whose clientele can vary greatly. Someone might want to go to the Turks and Caicos, where they can stay at the Gansevoort and have a lively deejay by the pool, or they might stay at Amanyara, where its quiet by the pool and quiet by the beach, too and simply want to read all day and sleep for 12 hours a night, she says.Or they might want to take a grown-up version of a gap year a chunk of time off between careers, as in the case of a 55-year-old Portland IT executive who had just sold his company and took off a month to unplug and recharge. But the trip started long before that. After the initial planning, he spent eight months training for a two-and-a-half-week hike to the Mount Everest base camp.He put a lot of thought into it before he contacted us, says Maggard, who put together three itineraries for him to choose from. Theres a goal and an intention set. Its not, Lets go to Italy and eat our way through the country. Because her client told her he wanted to recover and in luxury after his strenuous trek, she arranged for an additional week of morning yoga, daily messages and meditation at Como Shambhala Estate in Bali, for a total price tag of $40,000 for him and a companion.Then there are the really challenging trips to organize. One of Brown & Hudsons clients was a couple in which the woman was experiencing memory loss. But she loved to play the piano and she adored James Bond movies.One of our trip planners remembered that a Bond film was shot in Iceland, so thats a no-brainer, says Brown. We got in touch with the production company in Iceland and asked if someone would meet with her to talk about making the film. They said they would and we asked what they would charge. Nothing just buy us lunch, he told me. On her last Friday in Reykjavik, we thought about what she could do and we arranged for her to go to the concert hall there and play the piano for her husband and then film it so [she] could see it again. For these bespoke travel companies, arranging travel is less about the passport stamp or the amenities at the hotel, or even the place itself.Being part of a personal legacy is what we do, Brown says.Their mission is about people: their clients and the folks they will connect to during their travels, like I did with the yogis beside me on their mats in India. We have a lot of families who say, We want to go away with our kids but come back with them having a deeper understanding of the complexities of the world and being better global citizens, says Indagares Bradley. I love these clients. They could go and sit on a beach every vacation, but they really want to use their holidays to expand their kids world views and also their values. Sometimes it is a local guide, a shaman, a cook, an NGO head who says something that just clicks and you carry that lesson home, and it shifts how you look at the world.