We have all thought about what our world will look like in twenty or thirty years. For me, while I probably won’t see or experience these changes, I can’t help but think about them while I am still able to travel around the world.
First, the obvious. The changing face of travel is already upon us. But will it continue? The face I refer to is the Chinese tourist. Their newfound wealth is enabling them to be the “Japanese” traveler of the 80s. And as I have previously noted, this is not a pretty picture. They are loud, and pushy, perhaps owing to the fact they live in a densely populated, busy, and polluted homeland.
But along with that are the airline and prices for airline passes and tickets. When I see prices under $500 to Europe, or Asia from California or the east coast (round trip), the end result is that more people will be able to travel. While that is a good thing, it will make the more popular places that much more crowded.
When I first heard FOMO, and JOMO, I thought they were twin animals of some unspecified species. But Fear of Missing Out, and the Joy of Missing Out are driving primarily Millennials to “disconnect” enabling more authentic travel experiences.
Most perplexing is the issue of plastic waste. As long as clean water is an issue around the world, plastic bottles will be a challenge. Even if I carry a reusable container, where do I safely refill my bottle?
Then there is the issue or non-issue of seasonality. Many traditional mostly summer or winter destinations are touting “off season” travel. Ski resorts often convert themselves to mountain biking parks in the summer. Traditional summer destinations are touting their winter activities, with Christmas markets, and holiday trains, like the Grand Canyon. I think they are attempting to “blur” the lines.
And of course, some travel only companies are attempting to “blur” the lines by crossing over into other businesses. By that, I mean airlines opening noodle shops, or rental car companies offering “box lunches” to go.
Closer to home, both Uber and Airbnb have changed travel dramatically. Whether this continues to grow, or changes again will depend on the Millennials. I know they love Uber, to the point where they rarely rent or even own cars. But there are just some amenities that Airbnb cannot provide, like spas, high tea, personal safety, and laundry services. At least, not yet!
One that rings personally for me are the bike-sharing programs in most decent sized cities. I have used them in places like San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Boston, and Seattle. Close on their heels are the scooter sharing programs, though they cater to a smaller segment of travelers.
The other day, a friend mentioned space travel. Would I go, if offered, and affordable? Probably not, at my age. But if I were younger? Of course, I would go. Wouldn’t you?
Driverless cars, particularly as they apply to car services, limos, and Uber will be here soon. My experience with driverless cars comes only from a friend who was hit by such a vehicle, even with a driver in the seat! The car kept going AFTER it hit my friend’s new car!!!! This one will need some refinement before it becomes the standard.
Technology, though great for many things, may never replace a real visit and traveler experience. Another thing, nothing can replace the kindness of strangers, or the connection that I make with someone when I visit their country. Anyone can “see” things, but only some of us are able to actually “experience” things.