Top 10 Predictions for the Future of Travel

Lonely Planet and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have joined forces to mark the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel with top 10 predictions for the future of world travel.

Lonely Planet says holiday makers are set to demand more ‘unplugged travel’ and secret escapes as the fast pace of modern life continues to grow.

Topping Lonely Planet’s list of predictions is that travel will soon become fully integrated into our lives as opposed to a special event. Data from the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) forecasts that 6.6 billion passengers will fly worldwide by 2032, growing an average of 4.4 percent annually from 2014.  

The increasing volume of commercial flights has brought a large shift in travelers’ mind-sets and Lonely Planet argues the concept of travel as a rare treat is disappearing, replaced by travel as a lifestyle choice.

Lonely Planet also predicts that green travel is also on the rise as a new generation of travelers builds sustainability into every step of their journeys. 70 percent of travelers expect companies to demonstrate commitment to preserving the natural environment prompting a boom in ecotourism and volunteering abroad.

IATA notes the aviation industry in particular has set its own objectives for carbon neutral growth and cutting CO2 emissions in half.

Sourcing online reviews remains second-nature for travelers, but hunger for secret coves and local secrets is emboldening them to embrace face-to-face or local recommendations. Lonely Planet suggests online reviews will remain part of a traveler’s toolkit, but a local recommendation – whether from a taxi driver, in-the-know café owner or Airbnb host – has never been more highly prized.

The pressures of modern life are also recognized, as Lonely Planet suggests we can expect an increase in ‘unplugged travel’. With no emails or mobile signal, guests can immerse themselves in their destination and truly forget about work and everyday life.

Lonely Planet’s predictions also bode well for economy fliers, as increased competition on well-trodden flight paths is encouraging airlines to improve the experience for everyone, IATA notes. As true comparison shopping for air travel increases choice and competition, the future looks bright for economy flights - perhaps lie-flat seats, high quality food and more luxurious touches are not too far away.

Technology is also going to play an increasingly significant role, with more airlines offering paperless travel and integrated smart phones key to planning and tracking travel, IATA  says. Soon technology will mean suggested tweaks to travelers’ itineraries based on weather conditions and local events will be sent directly to travelers’ smart phones or tablets during a flight – creating an ever more tailored traveling experience.

Airports are also due for an overhaul as innovative departure lounges are a key part of any future travel landscape. With airport spas, art galleries, green areas and even cinemas now a common site at most departure lounges, Lonely Planet suggests we can expect bigger and bolder leisure activities soon, maybe even a pre-flight roller coaster.

Other future travel predictions include the rise of experience hotels and event travel, as travelers’ explore the globe in search of memorial experiences and once in a lifetime sights.

“100 years after the first passenger flew on a scheduled flight; the predictions from Lonely Planet clearly show that millions more people are set to enjoy the opportunity to travel and particularly travel by air, as the world becomes a smaller and more accessible place than ever before. It is amazing to see how far we have come over the past 100 years and even more so to think of what we can expect from the next century. Air travel connects us to the world and reminds us of the importance of being there, whether it is the places or the people we love,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 predictions:

1. Travel as life not special event - Travel is becoming an integrated part of everyday life
2. International festival fever – With flights faster and cheaper than ever before, travelers are taking advantage of a global calendar of events
3. Flight of fantasy – Increased competition on travel routes is encouraging airlines to improve experience for economy fliers
4. The evolution of airports – The success of airport spas, art galleries and green areas is sure to bring bigger and bolder leisure activities within the airport experience
5. The rise of experience hotels – the increase in demand for hotels that offer something extra
6. Smarter sustainable travel – Green travel has hit the big time as a new generation of travelers builds sustainability into every step of their journeys
7. Travel planning in your palm – As more airlines offer paperless travel, a smartphone can be the key to planning and tracking your travel, all tailored for your experience
8. The rise of unplugged travel – True escapes are becoming highly valued, and remote hotels are starting to make a feature of their lack of internet and phone signal
9. Return to local knowledge – Travelers’ hunger for secret coves and local trattorias is emboldening them to rely once more on face-to-face recommendations
10. Virtual travel – Travelers can now plan their travels from the comfort of their laptop, exploring on Google Streetview before seeing it for real.


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