7 Mind-Blowing Ways Travel Is Gonna Change In the Next Decade
Future, here we come...
You’ve heard it all before: the world is changing at a crazy pace. Think that it was only a decade and a bit ago that we were only starting to hear about smartphones.
And so with tech, as with travel. Sure, we’ve got mad-cheap flights now that zip us to our favourite tourist destinations; and those snazzy above-mentioned phones have made booking, navigating, and sharing our holidays all the easier. But what can we expect in the next ten years? Turns out, a whole lotta cool stuff.
Elon Musk-aka real life Iron Man- came up with this idea on the casual in 2013, and now several companies are working to make the dream real. The idea behind the Hyperloop is to travel in a pod propelled in vacuum tube running between two destinations. With speeds of up to 1,200km per hour (that’s 760 mph) it’ll work out quite a bit faster than other means of transportation.
The first announced projects by Virgin Hyperloop One are slated to link up Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes (instead of the usual 90 min drive), and in India, the cities of Mumbai and Pune (25 minutes, instead of 3 hours by car). Launch is anticipated for 2021.
Hold up! Underwater hotels are already a thing, right? Kind of. For starters, The Atlantis The Palm in Dubai has suites below deck, and several resorts in the Maldives feature restaurants where you can munch while watching fish swim.
Plans are to take the idea a level up - the next ambition is build an entirely submerged resort. Several companies have tried and ran aground (sorry), but the latest, called Planet Ocean Underwater Hotels, is studying 15 locations and working to make the dream come true. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the first will open its doors soon (though, please, not literally).
Humanity has kinda flip-flopped on space exploration. We made serious progress back in the days of the Cold War, when shooting stuff out of the atmosphere was seen as proof that you were top dog . Then, once we ticked off the moon, things ramped down, and recently only the International Space Station (ISS) has been hosting people off-planet.
Now things are kicking off again. And along with crazy stuff like going to Mars, it also means space tourism.
The company Axiom is setting up a space station of its own, which will welcome scientists, government astronauts, and visitors alike. It’ll start off attached to the ISS, before floating away solo whenever the latter is decommissioned in 2024.
Visitors will train alongside professional astronauts for a several weeks, before making the 7-10 day stay. Expect prices to be in the tens of millions (eek!) but organisation Space Nation is running a competition to hand out a free ticket.
Meanwhile, billionaire entrepreneur Robert T. Bigelow has developed expandable station modules, and is planning to create a space base of his own. We extra like the sound of his long-term plan: setting up a moon hotel.
You know it from the movies. Zepplins, those giant balloon-plane things, were all the rage back in first decades of the 20th century. And they’re poised to make a comeback now, fulfilling just about all of our steampunk dreams.
People all over the world are on the case, including the Bedford-based Hybrid Air Vehicles. These whales-of-the-air will fly thanks to helium (the much safer alternative to hydrogen, which was the gas of choice back in the day) and be able to last long as five days without landing. Airborne cruise, anyone?
We all truly understood the magic of AR that blissful summer of 2016, when Pokemon Go ran our lives amok.
Tourist destinations are already integrating the tech. The cities of Moscow and Orlando have created apps which allow you to collect rewards (or virtually meet historical characters) based on your location. We’re likely to soon see more gamification of the like (virtual treasure hunt through Versailles, perhaps?), as well as overlays displaying info and reviews of surrounding attractions. And thanks to Google Translate, you can already point your phone at writing and see it turn instantaneously into a language you speak.
And you’ll soon be able to view the lot through glasses. While the much publicised Google Glass project struggled to get off the ground, other companies are working up new designs, the latest of which, by Intel, proposes to project images directly into your retina. And the mysterious start-up Magic Loop is also working up some nifty stuff.
We know that driverless cars are on their way, but FLYING DRIVERLESS CARS? We’re gonna have to take a deep breath here.
Set on getting a head start, Dubai has been testing drone cabs last year (made by German firm Volocopter), with hopes of launching the service in five years’ time. Expect to see those hovering around in future.
And if that wasn’t enough to persuade you that people will be travelling cities’ skies soon, know that Uber has partnered with NASA to develop a traffic signals system… for up, flying vehicles.
Then again, you may never want to go through the hassle of travelling by Hyperloop, Zepplin, flying car or space shuttle, if you can get to see the sights from the comfort of your home.
With VR headsets of the likes of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, you can already experience climbing on Mount Everest, boating down the Grand Canyon, exploring the solar system and beyond, as well as shooting through the skies Superman-style, thanks to Google Earth VR.
As both the hardware and content get better, it may just transform the way we think about travel. Along with improved quality and choice, we’re likely to see things like live-feeds of popular touristic locations, the ability to make our own VR videos (the GoPro Fusion 360 camera is a start towards just that), or tours of entirely virtual spots – as opposed to spaces based on real life. But really, the sky’s the limit.
By Marion Koob