THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL

Travel is no longer a rare treat. In the future, for most people, it will be a lifestyle choice.

The increasing volume of commercial flights has brought a large shift in travellers’ mind-sets.

So much so that travel will soon be fully integrated in their lives as opposed to a special event, with ‘unplugged travel’ and secret escapes gaining popularity as the pace of modern life continues to accelerate.

This was among the top 10 predictions for the future of world travel made recently by Lonely Planet’s team of travel experts.

Lonely Planet, a global travel media company, has joined forces with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), to celebrate the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel.

Data from the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) forecasts that 6.6 billion passengers will fly worldwide by 2032, growing an average of 4.4% annually from 2014.

Lonely Planet also predicted that green travel will be on the rise as a new generation of travellers builds sustainability into every step of their journeys.

The bulk, or 70% of travellers, expect companies to preserve the natural environment, prompting a boom in ecotourism and volunteering abroad.

The aviation industry, in particular, has set its own objectives for carbon neutral growth and cutting CO2 emissions in half.

Sourcing online reviews remains second-nature for travellers, but hunger for secret coves and local secrets is emboldening them to embrace face-to-face or local recommendations.

Lonely Planet experts suggest online reviews will remain part of a traveller’s toolkit, but a local recommendation – whether from a taxi driver, in-the-know café owner or Airbnb host – has never been more highly prized.

The pressures of modern life are also recognised, as Lonely Planet suggests we can expect an increase in ‘unplugged travel’.

With no emails or mobile signal, guests can immerse themselves in their destination and truly forget about work and everyday life.

Lonely Planet’s predictions also bode well for economy fliers, as increased competition on well-trodden flight paths is encouraging airlines to improve the experience for everyone.

As true comparison shopping for air travel increases choice and competition, the future looks bright for economy flights – perhaps lie-flat seats, high quality food and more luxurious touches are not too far away.

Technology is also going to play an increasingly significant role, with more airlines offering paperless travel and integrated smartphones key to planning and tracking people’s travels.

Soon technology will mean suggested tweaks to travellers’ itineraries based on weather conditions and local events will be sent directly to travellers’ smart phones or tablets during a flight – creating an ever more tailored travelling experience.

Airports are also due for an overhaul as innovative departure lounges are a key part of any future travel landscape.

With airport spas, art galleries, green areas and even cinemas now a common site at most departure lounges, Lonely Planet expects bigger and bolder leisure activities soon, maybe even a pre-flight rollercoaster.

Other future travel predictions include the rise of experience hotels and event travel, as travellers’ explore the globe in search of memorial experiences and once in a lifetime sights.

“It’s amazing to see how far we have come over the past 100 years and even more so to think of what we can expect from the next century,” remarked Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Air travel connects us to the world and reminds us of the importance of being there, whether it is the places or the people we love.”

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