Monday, January 11, 2016

The Future of Travel

Buddhist monks staring up a the Washington Monument... and a teeny, tiny Lincoln Memorial in the background

The beginning of the year always seems to turn my thoughts to the future. What does 2016 have in store? What will it be like when my kids get older and the family trip becomes optional for them? How will my travel style change when it's back to being just hubby and I exploring places? My youngest is only 10 years old, so I'm really getting ahead of myself with that last question.

I took the photo at the top of the post as I was exiting the Washington Monument in November. After spending so much time in Asia taking photos of Buddhist monks at temples, I enjoyed seeing them being tourists just like me. I also bet that this was the first time some of the other people at the monument had ever seen a monk.

On the same trip, I was disappointed that we were not able to get tickets to tour inside the White House despite requesting them months beforehand. My daughter said offhand that she'd already "walked around" the interior via Google Street View. To do it yourself, go to the White House in Google Maps and drag the orange stick figure onto the building.

A few months ago, I picked up a Google Cardboard viewer, loaded a virtual reality app with a Paul McCartney concert onto my iPhone, and felt like I was standing on stage during the middle of a concert watching him play "Live and Let Die." I could look up at the ceiling or down at the floor. Turn my head one way to see Paul on the piano or the other way to see the screaming audience. It was Ah-Maze-Ing! Interactive echnology is letting us have a more heightened sense of experience than just looking at a picture or watching a video.

Ready Player One

I've been immersed in reading the novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It's set in the year 2044 when the world is three decades deep into an economic Great Recession. However, there's tons of pop culture references to the 1980's which is what initially drew me in. With the world's supply of fossil fuels practically depleted, it's near impossible for people to commute into town daily for work, much less go on road trips or jetting around the globe. Instead, most people escape into a massive multiplayer online game on virtual reality steroids called OASIS. A visor and earbuds provide remarkably realistic sight and sounds. It's like you are really there. You can walk through a place, turn your head, and the image angle changes accordingly. Haptic gloves make you feel as if you are truly touching things. With the microphone, motion sensors and avatars, people can interact with others in this imaginary realm.

Wade Watts, the teenage protagonist, attends a free public school inside the OASIS game. In World History class, the teacher shows simulations where the class experiences Egypt in the year 1334 BC one day and then the discovery of King Tut's tomb by archaeologists in 1922 during the next class. (If you're a Star Trek fan, just picture the Holodeck.)

What if this is the future of travel? 

What if you could go anywhere and any time via virtual reality? No more dreaming about your bucket list. Just do it. Just go there. It's so real that it's like it actually happened. In many ways, the pleasure that I get from reading other travel blogs is vicariously experiencing a place. Wouldn't virtual reality be merely another way of accomplishing that?

Would it matter to you that it didn't really happen?

It’s Your Turn, Link Up Your Newest Travel Inspiration!

I've joined up as one of the co-hosts of Weekend Travel Inspiration.
  1. Link one of your inspirational travel photos or stories to this post by adding your info.
  2. Copy and paste our badge and a link to this page.
  3. Visit some of the other wonderful travel bloggers, read their posts, and leave a comment.  It would be great if you could comment on 2-3 posts.
  4. Tweet it and include this hashtag. #wkendtravelinspiration .
  5. Follow all the hosts of Weekend Travel Inspiration who are working hard to spread the word on what wonderful work travel bloggers are doing.
  6. Don’t forget to check out my amazing co-hosts and their pages: Reflections EnrouteThe Crowded PlanetContentedTravellerAlbom AdventuresSafari 254, and FamiliesGo.

I've also joined with the following linkups. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. A most thought-provoking post! Having just been in Egypt I can't imagine doing the Pyramids, Sphinx or Museum by virtual-reality but on the flip side I would love to have been there as they were discovered and opened, uncovered and rehabbed . . .I guess I am for a nice mix but there is still something about walking in real time on the same soil or floor as thousands have through history. You've got me pondering the future though. . .

  2. Yay! Finally I am able again to write comments on your posts!!!!!

  3. I have no idea what changed, but i'm glad that you're comments are no longer disappearing.

  4. I would use virtual reality as a way of deciding whether I wanted to visit a place in real time. I saw monks on holiday in the temples in Luang Prabang, taking photos, posing in the temples and outside. That was my first time of seeing Monks as people who do ordinary things like taking holiday snaps.

  5. Sorry, Michelle, but this kind of future sounds a little creepy and sad to me. I don't want a virtual reality. I want the real thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is what would become of the humankind in the future. Very interesting post, though. I liked it.

  6. I like the idea of using VR as a preview. What a great thought.

  7. I can see myself going on the trip in person and then doing all my post-trip research for the blog post via virtual reality.

  8. The NY Times and Google have teamed up to do some VR stuff. The NYT sent VR glasses to its subscribers and they have videos you can watch, just like your paul mccartney concert. but one was a walk around an artists's studio in NYC; another was a food drop in Africa. I really thought that instead of subscribers, the Times should send these viewers to kids in underprivileged school districts. I think those kids often don't get to see much beyond their neighborhoods. And VR could really broaden horizons and open up their worlds.

  9. I can't imagine traveling through VR, although the idea of being able to see historical events in action (be they real or simply renditions) would add more depth to an experience.

  10. I want the real thing! As a teacher, the powers that be have been pushing saving money on field trips and say to take virtual ones. It's not the same!

  11. That novel sounds so interesting that I'm going to look for it now. I don't think I could go for the virtual reality travel option. I sometimes do a mini version with Google's tools to see the neighborhood where we're staying. Virtual reality can never match the smell and sounds of being in the real place. Plus, I love eating foreign foods too much to not experience the real thing. Sorry you guys couldn't do the White House tour. Looking forward to seeing where you're head to in 2016.


I read each and every comment. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Comment moderation is on, so your comment may not appear immediately.

Web Analytics