How technology is changing travel for all of us

How technology is changing travel for all of us – words Alan Woods

In a world equipped with everything from compasses in smartphones to robotic cruise ship bartenders, one cannot help but wonder just how technology is changing travel as a whole.

A generation ago, travellers were left in the trusty hands of print maps, courage and fate when travelling. Now, we have numerous tools and tricks at our fingertips.

One of the biggest inventions in recent years, and much talked about in 2016, is Virtual Reality (VR) and VR headsets. With their immersive sight and sound experiences, could this technology eventually eliminate the need to travel altogether?

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Technology keeps us safer and greener

The benefits of technological advances can help keep us safer, while being eco friendly, as well as being helpful for travellers.

Recent technological advances have led to more environmentally friendly travel. For example, the Lilium airplane due to be released in 2 years is not only completely silent, but also completely electric.

Bespoke Air Charter, a broker for private jet charters, went so far as to say that the Lilium; a green private plane, could wind up “kickstarting an automotive revolution in the skies”, changing the future of luxury travel. If the Lilium is a success, then it is only a matter of time before this eco friendly technology is adapted far and wide by both luxury and commercial airlines alike.

Mobile phones help keep us safer by giving us a way to contact home and the emergency services 24/7, not mention offline maps and GPS housed in a single device. Mobile technology allows users access to vital travel information as and when they need it.

To a backpacker for example, even knowing something as simple as the local bus schedule can mean the difference between a night in a warm bed and a night sleeping rough. So even though using a mobile phone might be costing your holiday it’s mystique, it’s improving safety and make your experience more enjoyable in the long run.

Tech like driverless cars can upend our travel experiences

Recently, The Telegraph argued that travelling with mobile phones has cost us our dignity, and our holiday it’s mystique. “Once upon a time, the world was an unknown concept,” they argue. “Now … you can’t move on the internet for images of the supposedly niche destination you are “discovering” next month.”

Additionally, not only is Google apparently dead set on making Knight Rider a reality by inventing a talking car, but, as “virtually every automaker” is attempting to manufacture a driverless car for the mass-market. And it likely won’t be long before someone succeeds.

So what will this mean for the road-trip holiday? Somehow, the romance of driving down a new and unfamiliar stretch of road, taking turns at the wheel and driving through the night, it all seems diminished when you take the actual act of driving out of the equation.

Putting driverless cars and phones to one side, what could be the most disconcerting of all, in terms of downsides for travel of the future, are the virtual reality headsets. This tech allows you to view immersive 360 degree videos, which means you can experience the sights and sounds of a new place without even leaving your sofa, and without the expense of flights or time taken with travel.

This has caused many of us to wonder; will there eventually be a time when ‘virtual tourism’ surpasses the real thing? Particularly when ‘physical’ traveling is so harmful for the environment.

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Virtual tourism will never replace real travel for everyone

There are many who would argue that “a virtual journey could never replace the insatiable appetite for travel and the life-changing experiences you encounter along the way.” In many ways virtual reality and television come to the same thing; you can watch a documentary about the Grand Canyon, but that doesn’t replace the awe you feel by actually being there.

Of course no one can really know what the future holds. Change is inevitable, even though it is not always welcome, but the travel industry will adapt to change just like it always has. Travel will always be an experience that many crave, beyond simply knowing a place and seeing images of it. Bear in mind how far we’ve come since inventing air travel. People used to be scared of traveling over 50 miles an hour, and just look at us now.

How technology is changing travel for all of us – words Alan Woods

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