The future of travel
Much has been said about the future of travel and, as an invested observer, I have some predictions of my own.
The way I see it is this: climate change is a high speed train coming straight toward us and we are all tied to the tracks. The only way we are going to slow down that juggernaut is with serious intervention. We need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions and change our whole ethos around consumption.
More give and less take.
So what does that look like in the form of travel
1. Localise your hedonism
I don’t want to come across as some mealy-mouthed puritan because that would be hypocritical. There is nothing quite like a robot with laser beam hands and an open bar to make me hit the D-Floor (see: Club Med Guilin, China, circa 2013).
But you don’t need to get on a plane to get drunk and have fun. If you have no desire to see anything beyond the resort, or engage in the local culture, why not stay in Australia? Head to a beach near you and slam some tequila shots. I get that it’s not as fun as Cancun during Spring Break or Club Med in Mauritius but your children’s children will thank you for not totally f*cking the planet in the name of a hook-up and a hangover.
2. Axe non-essential business travel
Welcome to Zoom time, colleagues. How much money, time and energy has been wasted on face-to-face meetings that could’ve been conducted via Zoom? I get that you may need to attend an annual conference because humans but if that’s the case, make it really count. Network your ass off, set up meetings and go to all the educational sessions. Don’t spend the day bludging near the coffee cart because you got plastered at welcome drinks.
And event planners, let’s make these shindigs practical, sustainable and supportive of the local communities. Hire local, buy local and find a way to tell the story of the local area so that delegates leave with a genuine understanding of the place they’ve just visited.
3. Travel less for longer
With less planes flying (good news for the environment), air travel is going to get a lot more expensive (bad news for poor people like me).
Instead of going to England for two weeks this year, and Turkey for two weeks next year, I am going to have to start planning MEGA TRIPS that occur on a leap year when the blood moon is full (or something equally rare).
The upside is less jetlag and more time to become culturally immersed.
I am never going to stop travelling (notwithstanding some sort of permanent border closure) but I am mostly going to be going camping at the beach or visiting my family and friends. Long haul adventures are going to be the exception rather than the rule.
4. Dig in your own backyard
How much do you really know about your own area? Over many years working in tourism, I have heard the same thing over and over – that locals haven’t tried half of the things that are on their doorstep.
People will blithely travel to Cappadocia to go hot air ballooning but they won’t book with the local operation that drifts over their house.
Invest in your local operators, get to know your area and give yourself a chance to discover the gold beneath your feet.
Learn about the traditions and culture of the local Aboriginal tribe, explore the closest National Park, and unearth the history of your home town. Get to know home a lot better so you can share it with others.
5. Get serious about sustainability
The easiest way to do this is to support businesses that have done the hard work for you. Intrepid Travel is a registered B-Corp meaning that they have already met stringent sustainability criteria.
Otherwise, do your research. Some destinations work harder than others to ensure that they manage tourism in a responsible and sustainable way.
Offset your flights, avoid single-use plastics, support locally owned businesses and commit to hanging out with locals doing local stuff. Don’t fly to Cambodia and head straight to McDonalds. Eat the deep fried crickets, drink the scary moonshine and risk the local transport. Stick your neck out and get out of the homogenised travel bubble. Everyone loves a Sofitel pool and a 5-star Mai Tai but why travel to the other side of the world for this?
Do you have any ideas or suggestions about what you think travel will look like in the future? I would love to hear them!