My thoughts on what travel will be like in 50 years

22 Nov

I’m someone who loves reading about new technology and thinking about how it will influence lives in the coming years. For young travelers in the 21st century, like myself, this can be a source of enjoyment, however, It also makes me wonder about fundamental parts of the travel experience that may change. This post will examine several areas in which I speculate that travel will be a different experience in 50 years. But first, I’m going to answer this: will people still travel in 50 years? I think so. I think that while we may be able to virtually experience the taj mahal or eiffel tower, or become immersed in their own virtual realities, I don’t think it will compare to taking yourself somewhere. There’s a reason many people find the idea of manned space exploration more inspiring than robotic/rover space exploration. It offers a real experience, a sense of being in a place. No amount of technology can change that.

So I’m going to go through 10 ways in which I speculate that the travel experience may be different in 50 years.


How we get around the world

Today, getting around the world either requires you to use public transport, fly, or be able to drive. Soon, however, there will be some major changes in this. Flights may become less polluting with newer, more fuel efficient aircraft, and eventually, hypersonic aircraft may be more common. There will also be self-driving cars. I don’t see self driving cars replacing 220-mph bullet train routes, but I think that a lot of the rural areas, especially in America, public transport will die. It simply won’t be able to survive in a world where someone can just dial for a robotic car to take them for the next suburb down the road. What I see happening for those trans-european journeys is some system where you take a robotic car to the bullet train or airport, and you do the same to get to your destination at the other end. And for shorter journeys, your car will drive you the whole way.

New places to go

Eventually, more countries may open up to tourism. Who knows what the world map will look like in 50 years? Plus, as many countries economies become more globalized and dependent on each other for each other’s resources, the borders between countries may become less important. And who knows? Maybe one day there will be revolutions in Iran and North Korea, and they will be open to tourism. So in a world where anyone could easily visit any country, imagine what it would mean. While nowhere would be “far away” and “exotic” in the same way, it will allow more sharing of cultural ideas.

Space tourism

Space tourism has a lot of potential. There’s already a company called Mars-One planning on starting a Mars colony, and quite a few that plan to offer suborbital spaceflights for regular tourists. Plus, space hotels may become commonplace. Whatever happens in space exploration, I hope it continues to grow.

Newly developed countries

Imagine a world where every country was a developed country. Imagine a world where Kampala, Uganda had gleaming skyscrapers and flying cars. It may happen one day. Many economies from China, to India, and even some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have growing middle classes that will be a major influence on global economics.

Climate change

Climate change will definitely affect how we travel. In a world where the beaches of Long Island could be underwater in 50 years and where Spain may become a parched, arid desert, climate change will definitely have an impact on ecosystems, economics, and cultures. As much as I wish this wasn’t true, I don’t think we’ll be able to stop climate change. Rather, I think we’ll have to adapt to it and hope for the best.

Cultural changes

The world will become more globalized over the years. Cultural boundaries will change and evolve, and they will become less important. However, there will be people keen on preserving their heritage. India will still have great curry and Japan will still have great sushi. It’s just that sooner or later, the best possible sushi will not be confined to Japan.

Political changes

Who knows what the Arab Spring will do for travel? Will Scotland and Catalonia become their own countries? There are many unanswered questions that only the changes time brings can answer. Plus, history is a constantly evolving story. The world is a book, and with every war that is won, war that is lost, election that is held, or dictator overthrown, a chapter in the book is ended and several new ones begin. It is very hard to predict what these political changes will do for travel.

Knowledge just when you need it

For people who travel to learn, technologies like the google glasses and iphone apps like HearPlanet will make the world more and more like one big museum. Imagine if every time you saw a historic building, you could look at it with the google glasses, tap the side, and listen to an audio recording of its wikipedia article. This will drown us in information, but it will also change the way we process information. We’ll view information as a free service that can be accessed at any time, not something that needs to be studied carefully and remembered. Want to know more about that painting in the museum? No problem. Read a virtual plaque on the google glasses about its history and the artist who painted it. The world will become more and more like one big classroom, and that’s a good thing.

More travelers

The Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, and African middle classes will continue to grow, and with this brings more tourists. There will be many more people on the road in 50 years, not just because there will be more people in the world, but because more people will be able to afford to travel.

How we’ll spend money

I don’t think stores that sell souvenirs will be common in 50 years. Why? 3d printing will be able to do it for you. What I do see is these stores being replaced by more restaurants and other services. I also see transport being cheaper with self driving taxis being able to take you, very cheaply, wherever you want to go, since there will not need to be a driver who is paid. Whatever the case, I think the economics of how we spend money when we travel will change. Plus, will budget airlines force flag carriers out of business? It remains to be seen, but I think there will definitely be changes in how travelers spend money.





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