What does the future hold for travel? Check-in by robot? Budget space flights? Virtual holidays? Flight comparison site Skyscanner is offering a glimpse of what the 2024 holiday experience could be like with its Future of Travel report. We’ve digested the findings and come up with a few ideas that we think would benefit the world of travel. But what would you like to see in future? Give us your ideas in the comments below.
Hotel room of the future
They say: Within 10 years travellers will “have no need to encounter a single human being” from the moment they check in. Instead, hotel rooms will be transformed into digital, hyper-interactive spaces in which even the pillows will be “embedded” with electronics to massage your neck and wake you up in the morning. The walls will display high definition images of your friends and family, hologram personal trainers will hang out with you and the shower will use sound technology to “agitate” dirt from your body, using a traffic light system to indicate when you’re clean enough to get out.
We say: Thanks shower, but we’re doing just fine when it comes to washing ourselves. As for the prospect of photographs of our friends and family glaring down at us from the walls, surely this will only serve to hammer home just how isolated one feels trapped in a computer-dominated digi-limbo, with a better-looking-than-you hologram making you feel insecure about those profiterole-shaped bulges around your waistline. Meanwhile, it’s only been one night and your partner has already realised they can get better pillow talk from the, well, pillow. You’ve never felt so alone.
In a nutshell: Computer says: “You’re dirty.”
They say: For the ultimate in “serious traveller bragging rights”, how about a brief time spent floating weightlessly in low Earth orbit? It’s something that should become relatively affordable (ie $75,000) compared to the cost of, say, an actual Apollo-style excursion to the moon. That said, architects Foster + Partners are currently involved in a project with the European Space Agency exploring ways they could build structures on the moon with the help of 3D printers, so a lunar hotel could be on the horizon.
We say: It’s bad enough having to listen to someone recounting the time they befriended a local harem pants salesman during their gap year in India, let alone the time they accidentally sneezed in their own face while experiencing zero gravity. A moon colony, however, does pique our interest.
In a nutshell: Get saving.
They say: Sub-aquatic hotels will be a “far more mainstream proposition” by 2024 and underwater tourism will certainly trump space travel. As Skyscanner CEO Gareth William says: “I suspect you would get more from it, because there is more to see down there than in space.” That said, the Poseidon Underwater Resort in Fiji, which was due to open in 2008, is still nowhere near ready.
We say: It may not cost as much as space but sleeping with the fishes is still going to be beyond the budget of 99% of holidaymakers – when it does finally open, a week at the Poseidon resort in Fiji will cost £9,000.
In a nutshell: Don’t hold your breath.
They say: Peer-to-peer collaboration will take over the world, and within the next decade between 5-10% of people could be renting out their homes to travellers. Increasingly, “social travel” – from accommodation to supper clubs and other experiences – will become part of the traditional travel industry. New tools will lead to collaboration between tourists and people in the destinations, helping create more localised and personal travel.
We say: As personal, authentic experiences go mainstream, what next for the current set of supper-clubbing, airbnbing globetrotters who like to think of themselves as travellers not tourists? The only way they will be able to distance themselves from the travelling masses muscling in on their territory is to drop the idea of social travel altogether (so 2014) and instead adopt an anti-social approach: the countryside will be awash with hipsters being mindful – alone – in the woods.
In a nutshell: Forget secret supper clubs – expect secret holidays.
They say: In the further pursuit of “bragging rights”, tourists will start pursuing adventures in extreme destinations. Travellers will want to be the first to drop in on so-called “forbidden zones”, destinations once rendered inaccessible by conflict or political instability or, conversely, be among the last people to see a habitat or species threatened with extinction. Lebanon will become the new Dubai, Angola could take off too, and the chance to spot a bare-faced tamarin before the species dies out will be a lifetime holiday highlight for a lucky few.
We say: Firstly, anyone who goes on holiday for “bragging rights” is an idiot. As for travelling to forbidden zones, fine if you’ve got a genuine interest – but even then let the story of Matthew Miller, the American who wanted to secretly investigate the human rights situation in North Korean prisons – and is now experiencing them at first hand – be a cautionary tale.
In a nutshell: Don’t do it.
Five things we’d like to see in 2024
Airships, the return of
Ever since the Hindenberg disaster, the idea of travelling beneath a huge balloon of highly inflammable gas has – perhaps understandably – been on the back burner. But now they are back in development: safe, environmentally friendly and with the potential to stay in the air for weeks at a time, dirigible transportation seems to us like the closest we’ll come to living in the clouds.
London King’s Cross to New York’s Grand Central without changing trains? Someone needs to start digging that tunnel.
Virtual reality destination testing
In the future, holidays from hell should become inconceivable. One way of ensuring this is through virtual reality destination testing. Simply pop on an Oculus Rift headset and go for a stroll. Mould in the hotel room? Building work in the pool? Then go somewhere else or sort out the problem before you go. Never again shall unsuspecting holidaymakers be faced with such imperfections on arrival.
Multi-lingual brain implants
“Me … Want … Beer?” In the future, the linguistic ineptitude of British travellers will be an irrelevance thanks to the invention of multi-lingual brain implants that you can inject into your skull at all good chemists. The result will be perfect fluency in every language of the world, meaning you can buy souvenirs, argue with taxi drivers and, yes, order a beer, wherever you go.
Insta-hols brain zaps
(Probably) using the same technology of multilingual brain implants, in the future you won’t even need to go on holiday to get that refreshed and relaxed feeling. Instead, just zap yourself with a “holi-rod” and to be transported to your destination of choice. Two minutes later you’ll be back in the office, this time with a brain full of wonderful memories, such as the delicious cocktails you drank in that underwater hotel, and how clean you feel from the intelligent shower you had that morning. Mega bragging rights indeed.