Now that the summer holiday season is ending, and the interruption caused by volcanic ash has been dissipated, what is the future for travel?
It is necessary to see where we are coming from in order to look into the future.
All but forgotten is that travel already has revolutionized our society. Prior to the Second World War people went on excursions on Sundays – when most of the social and recreational trips were made. Then the big day was Friday, as a result of a combination of work, shopping and errands for family business. As store hours were extended, Friday no longer was an important day for travel.
One of the astonishing changes brought about by travel in recent decades has been the opening of the whole world to widespread travel. Up until recently, when people were questioned about their retirement plans, they invariably replied that they wished to travel.
Subsequently, inexpensive airplane tickets widened the horizons for most of the population. Extensive travel became commonplace and even exotic areas in remote regions witnessed an influx of tourists.
Over the past decade, much has changed. Plane travel has become more onerous with the requirement to be at an airport hours before departure time, and security checks and long lines added to the inconvenience of plane travel. Too, with the hub system of flight patterns, weather delays in a key city trigger delays all along the line.
It goes without saying that train travel is not a reasonable alternative, and highway congestion has taken most of the joy out of automobile trips.
Despite all that, the evolution of travel over the years has entailed major adjustments: the advent of meals taken outside of the family home, the establishment of hotels in so many areas, but perhaps the biggest change is one that is underway: the decentralization of the workplace.
Given the inconvenience of plane and highway travel, and the overcrowding of places to visit, what can we expect now? It looks as if the era of more and more travel is coming to a close.
As businesses decentralize and move away from city centres and the Internet communication by email grows along with teleconferencing, business trips probably are on the wane. People can “see” each other and exchange documents instantly, thus obviating the need for much business travel.
Travel has brought great benefits and understanding in different parts of the globe. The unforeseen consequences now seem to outweigh most of the benefits.
From here on, it is more likely that business and recreational travel will diminish, perhaps leading to a less hectic lifestyle.