Further, faster & more in the moment: the changing shape of travel

 
The future of travel and transport technology
 
 
 

This week’s newsletter comes to you from France where I’m waiting for a connecting flight to Japan. I’m trying out the ‘work anywhere’ mantra, spending the next 10 days between Tokyo-Takamatsu-Kyoto-Sapporo. It's one half R&R, the other R&D.

It’s got me thinking about the future of travel. What it looks like now and what it’s fast becoming. We spend so much time on the go that I’m surprised nobody has started a Quality of Travel Index - perhaps we should. I’m going to enjoy putting Japan’s futuristic transport to the test.

Below is a mixture of new travel possibilities, some emerging trends in tourism technology and why our holidays are becoming personal brand stories.

 
 

Globetrotting communities

Now nobody needs an office anymore it’s tempting to uproot and go wherever the mood takes you. Start-ups like Roam have created a portfolio of co-living and co-working spots in the most desirable places around the world, costing you as little as $500 a week all in.

Nomad List finds work spots home and abroad, with filters for ‘safe for women’, ‘near beach’ and ‘no rain’. And if all you need is a stable internet connection and good coffee then Places to Work is your friend.

Narrowing of travel classes

It used to be that all you’d get in economy was a few centimetres of leg room and a window seat if you’re lucky. Now buses have WiFi, TV screens and USB charging ports and Virgin trains' BEAM app lets you stream the latest blockbusters for free and without the need to dip into your data allowance.

Little luxuries like these mean that upgrading no longer has to come at a wallet-busting price.

AI travel agents

The poor high street travel agent. First comes TripAdvisor with its peer recommendations, then AirBnB wanting you to belong like a local, and now Google & IBM are getting in on the act with their AI concierges.

I’ve used Google Trips to plan this trip – it’s as simple as granting it permission to pull your hotel and travel information from your email account and it’ll magically do the planning for you, making sightseeing and restaurant suggestions on a map. What’s more the entire app is available to use offline.

From passengers to astronauts

It’s crazy to think space tourism will actually happen in 2018. Bloon flights by Spanish company Zero2Infinity promise to take you 22 miles above earth by balloon, in the same way Felix Baumgartner was taken to 128,100ft on the Red Bull Stratos mission a few years ago.

If you don’t have a spare €110,000 lying around, don’t fret. NASA are currently advertising for six people to simulate living on Mars.

For the followers

Copycats are forcing professional instagrammers to up their game. The latest craze is to hire a drone filmmaker to follow you on your jaunts. These aren’t just any old drone pilots either. Top-of-their-game artistic directors and cameramen who’ve worked on films such as Stars Wars and James Bond are on hand for anybody with more money than sense.

With the day of the holiday photo album well and truly over, the next level up is a beautiful online travel journal, such as Craig Mod & Dan Rubin's Koya Bound.

Making airports a place you want to be

Airports and airlines are rethinking every element of their service with great results.

Hong Kong International now offer in-town check-in, where you can drop your smart luggage off up to a day before your flight. Australia are planning to get rid of passports and manned immigration desks entirely, with biometric technology allowing non-persons-of-interest to simply walk out of the airport after their flight. Meanwhile, airports everywhere are turning to Bluetooth beacons to guide passengers through a more personalised shopping experience and to their gate in good time.

Real time translation

Google Translate serves up a remarkable 140 billion words a day in a different language. It is also playing an important role in the refugee crisis. Read about the back story of Google Translate and how the early product avoided being a “success disaster” — a situation in which theory outpaces its ability to deliver the product in practice and at scale.

Virtual reality destination hopping

Virtual reality travel apps are offering taster experiences before you book and immersive travel guides before you land. Experience Machu Picchu without the grueling climb. Virtually visit a safari park or take in the Scottish Highlands. Or simply check out your hotel before you go. It’s never been easier to tick destinations off your bucket list.

 
 

See the world one run at a time

I’ve always believed the best way to explore a new city is to put on your trainers and go for a run. As well as being a great cure for jetlag and the ultimate form of sustainable travel, it takes you to places never found in the guidebooks. The quicker you navigate your new surroundings the more you’ll fit into your trip.

Download Strava for data-powered, athlete-curated city guides or to share yours with others.

 

 

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Stuart Goulden