The Future of Travel

Peyto Lake, Alberta
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It can be fun imagining the future. And I don't just mean like a month from now – I'm talking about imagining what life (and travel) will be like decades from now. In today's world, things change and develop so rapidly that literally anything seems possible.

I mean, if we look back at the last 100 years, things have changed SO MUCH. These days we have airplanes with beds that can stay in the air for 16+ hours; cars that can park for us; cell phones with apps to replace almost all human interaction. None of these things were fathomable just a century ago; maybe not even 50 years ago! The airplane is only a little over 100 years old; the computer didn't come about until the mid-century (and wasn't really wide-spread until the '80s); iPhones are only 8 years old.

So who knows what life – and travel – will be like another 100 years from now?

Predicting travel by 2030

In a recent survey,  asked Americans to predict what the travel experience could look like by the year 2030. Sure, some of the predictions are a bit far-fetched, but others aren't at all outside the realm of possibility – or even probability. (After all, if the filmmakers who made “Back to the Future II” could predict , we can tackle 2030, right?)

Compass at Moraine Lake

Here are five of the things travelers expect to see (or not see) in the next 15 years:

Digital Passports and Face Recognition

Some 58% of travelers surveyed believe passports will soon be available for digital devices, and 50% believe human face recognition technology could replace passports altogether.

My take: I definitely can see this happening. Many airports already take photos and digital fingerprints of travelers, and I've been to a few countries lately where customs is now almost completely done via machine – in New Zealand you don't even get a passport stamp any more! In 15 years, I wouldn't be surprised if physical passports disappear.

Eco-Travel Destinations

71% of travelers agree that Americans will choose “Eco-Travel” destinations for vacations.

My take: The world is changing – and not necessarily for the better. The ice caps are melting, forests are shrinking, and the world's population is exploding. In the past couple of years, sustainable travel and eco-friendly vacations have therefore gotten a lot of attention. We all want to travel, but more and more people want to do it in a responsible way. I, too, see ecotourism growing in popularity in the next 15 years, as travelers try their best to be kind to nature, leave the lightest footprint possible, and help promote conservation. This is an awesome trend!

New Mexico

Extreme Hotel Experiences

About half of all travelers (51%) believe extreme hotel experiences, such as a private hut over the ocean or taking a zip line to your treehouse will be possible.

My take: I blame Instagram and one-upmanship on social media for this one. But I, too, believe that adventurous travelers will keep seeking out the most extreme places to lay their heads (and take photos to prove it). I'm not sure if a private hut over the ocean is really all that extreme, but you can already sleep in glass igloos in Lapland and in an underwater hotel in Florida, and is already a thing. I have no doubt that this trend will continue.

Space Travel

35% of those surveyed believe it’s a possibility to travel to a destination in space – with men more likely to make this prediction than women (40% vs. 29%).

My take: Boys and their spaceships, hey? But I certainly wouldn't count this one out. Now, do I think you'll be able to book a hotel on the Moon by 2030? No. But private space travel (perhaps a twirl around the earth?) will undoubtedly be available in the next 15 years – for those who can afford it.

Transatlantic Trains and Flying Cars

Travelers are skeptical that transatlantic trains (26% ) and flying cars (24%) will become travel options by 2030.

My take: I'll never say never, but I'm a bit skeptical, too – especially of the flying cars. They predicted that one in Back to the Future, too, and it didn't happen. Not sure it'll happen in the next 15 years, either.

Check out this infographic to see what else travelers think we can expect:

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What else might we see? I'm predicting more high-speed trains, bigger and faster airplanes, more “digital detox”-style vacations, and more travel to developing countries as the Internet helps the world feel smaller (and therefore less scary).

What else do YOU think we'll since in travel in the next 15 years?

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