Today I picked up my younger daughter’s first passport from a tall, imposing federal building in San Francisco. Alone with my thoughts for a moment in the taxi back to the office, I started to daydream about her future travels. Where will she go on her first solo trip? Will we even need passports by then? When she’s 50, will the great cities of the world resemble those sets in Minority Report and Blade Runner where people jump into flying cars and work on hologram touchscreens? Will robots be running things by the time my baby is a grown-up?
The robots haven’t taken over yet. But they are already here, speaking multiple languages and offering directions to weary travelers in airports around the globe. Artificial intelligence is here, too. Whether you know it or not, the technology has helped you book a trip from your phone, moved you through the airport security line, and ensured your favorite goose-down pillow was on the bed when you arrived at your hotel.
Will robots be running things by the time my baby is a grown-up?
As deputy editor Jennifer Flowers and senior editor Aislyn Greene began work on our Future of Travel package, they thought about what you should know to be a smarter traveler. Some trends (coworking spaces; wellness travel; strategies to combat overtourism) are already upon us, and will continue to shape how we travel for business and pleasure going forward. Others are just starting to appear on the horizon.
The trends that make me the most hopeful about the world my daughter will inherit? Travel businesses are rethinking and reducing their plastic consumption; the electric car just might redefine the great American road trip; and finally, yes, finally, companies are realizing that women of all ages want to travel, sometimes alone and sometimes with groups of other women. I for one can’t wait for my daughters to join their ranks.
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Julia Cosgrove Julia Cosgrove is vice president and editor in chief of AFAR, the critically acclaimed travel media brand that makes a positive impact on the world through high-quality storytelling that inspires, enriches, and empowers travelers who care. Julia lives in Berkeley, California.