These days, technology is changing the face of travel so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. In 2020, you can expect to see our smartphones become even more powerful (they’re already the most powerful tool you can travel with), more hotels move away from face-to-face interactions, more personalization from Google Maps, and plenty more. The travel industry looks wildly different today than it did 20 years ago. But what about 20 years in the future? What will travel look like in 2040?
In the interest of helping people not only keep up but prepare for times ahead, Allianz Global Assistance, with which I have an annual plan and am a brand ambassador, recently partnered with futurist Ray Hammond to predict changes we’ll see over the next two decades. The project is called “The World in 2040,” and international travel is one of the four areas examined. Hammond, who received a U.N. Gold Medal for Services to Futurology in 2010, brought more than 40 years of futurology work to the effort.
What will travel look like in 2040?
In short, it will look pretty different. “The world is changing at a rapid pace,” said Hammond, “and the next 20 years will see unprecedented levels of technology development. There will be 9 billion people in the world by 2040. We can expect enormous change to almost every aspect of life between now and then.”
Below are some key trends that his work identified as likely to shape travel over the next 20 years. The supplemental detail comes via Allianz’s press release.
- Virtual & Augmented Reality
Multi-sensory virtual reality technology will allow armchair travel planners to ‘step into’ virtual hotel rooms, visit street carnivals, explore museums or walk into restaurants, from the comfort of their own living room. This trend is expected to fuel an appetite for more real-life travel, rather than hinder it.
- Instant check-in thanks to new technology
Facial pattern recognition systems are already in experimental use at airports and within 20 years, computer systems that can reliably identify your face will be in widespread use to check-in seamlessly.
- Hotel software assistants
While some luxury hotels will greet their guests with a human face, many business and budget hotels will use automated check-in and guidance to rooms provided by software assistants. Some hotels will even provide robotic baggage carriers to move luggage.
- Super-fast trains
Cross-border train journeys will be smoother and much improved in many parts of the world. Computer networks and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will manage national and international rail networks, allowing trains to run faster and closer together. Train speed will also increase on most rail networks, with most high-speed trains running at speeds above 125 mph.
- On-site 3D clothes printing
In 2040, it will be possible to send your measurements to your hotel in advance of your arrival and heavy or bulky clothes (e.g. raincoats or shoes) will have been printed out to await your arrival, reducing the amount of luggage the tourist of 2040 will have to transport. The low cost of 3D printed garments means travelers will be able to leave the clothes behind for local recycling.
- Sustainable cruises
Cruise ships will be far more environmentally friendly than today’s giant ocean liners. Vessels will be powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), a light fossil fuel with almost no greenhouse gas emissions, transforming cruise vacations into one of the greenest ways to travel the world. The range of cruise destinations will also continue to grow, with Asia proving particularly fertile ground.
- Space as a regular destination
For some travelers in 2040, the world may not be enough as it may not offer a sufficiently large choice of destinations. By that time, it’s likely that tourists will be flying to and from the Moon on a regular basis as they seek the experience of seeing the Earth from space.
In an infographic
What will travel look like in 2040? You’ll find a few of the answers, from Hammond’s work, in the infographic below.
What do you think?
After you’ve read the “The World in 2040,” feel free to share your thoughts—including predications—in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Johnny Jet works as an ambassador for Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and receives financial compensation.
For more information about Allianz Global, visit AllianzTravelInsurance.com.