Updated: Aug 3, 2022
This is what I imagine (and hope) travel will look like in the future..
It may be idealistic, but ultimately, it would be amazing if people had the freedom to move around the world without worrying about how they were going to work, how they were going to dress for style, leisure, comfort and sport, and how they were going to communicate.
We're a long way off from this completely subjective "perfect" world, but it's fun to think about and hopefully, somewhat inspiring, if you're like me, and dream of seeing as much of the world as possible without worrying about where you live or work.
Work / Income
I go into detail on this in my post The Future of Work, but I'll recap here just in case.
VR Headsets will replace laptops; yes, they're bulky and somewhat expensive today, but they'll only get smaller and lighter, eventually taking up no more space than a pair of sunglasses. Google Glass already demonstrated the potential for wearable heads-up displays and Facebook is well on their way to creating virtual workspaces with their Oculus headset.
If you haven't tried a VR headset yet, let me assure you, it's the future of work; with virtual desktops, virtual meeting rooms and thousands of apps being developed to model your home or work office, I suspect most people to be working (and playing) in a virtual world in the next 10-15 years; and it's only a matter of time before your "home office" is wherever you are, just a click away.
And this isn't just limited to "knowledge workers" as you might expect.. doctors are already performing remote surgeries from thousands of miles away, and expect many professions to follow suit with remote controlled robotics and machinery.
And if VR headsets are too bulky for your taste, wearable VR/AR contact lenses are already being developed, so you may not even have to worry about packing a ruggedized glasses case.
Haptic gloves will replace keyboards; they may take a little more time, but they too will get smaller and lighter, and they're already under development; they'll bridge the gap between traditional keyboard users and Gen Alpha kids, who will likely never work on a laptop... or drive a car, for that matter.
Of course, this all assumes that Elon Musk's Neuralink doesn't bypass the need for keyboards all-together by dictating our thoughts to digital form, without the need for an old person's "input device."
In short, eventually you won't need your laptop, and it's arguably the biggest issue with long-term travel today.
Travel-specific clothing is already available, but there's a lot of room for improvement in this department.
Today, we're working with a hodge-podge of brands and styles that can do some of what we want; light-weight, multi-functional, quick-drying, anti-bacterial material is readily available; but we're still limited in terms of comfort and flexibility.
Eventually, though, we'll get Smart Skin Clothing that has all of the above.. along with climate-controlled fabrics, customizable skins, RFID-protected pockets and water-tight zippers.
If we want to get super "futuristic," it's not hard to imagine a world in which your smart clothing can be worn day-in, day-out, with limited need for cleaning; making the idea of traveling with just one or two sets of clothes both realistic and efficient.
It's also worth mentioning some expected advances in travel tools that will make washing and drying clothes even easier. Portable washers and dryers already exist, although both are in their infancy... I've tried and tested a few different ones, namely this handheld portable dryer and this ultrasonic-powered portable washer, both are neat and hold great promise as they get better, but until that day comes, my portable wash-bag will have to suffice.
One of the issues with portable dryers is the noise they make, which can feel like an annoyance to fellow travelers if you're sharing a room... so I'm really hoping that Dyson eventually incorporates their supersonic hair dryer technology into a miniatured portable dryer, for the travel-tech enthusiast in all of us.
Sports and Activities
This goes hand-in-hand with Smart Clothing, but it's worth noting that most of the stuff you'll be doing while traveling will require either.. 1) little clothing (think water-based activities - swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking, canyoning, rafting, surfing, etc.).. or 2) some type of active-wear (walking, hiking, skydiving, horseback riding, motorbiking, ATV-ing, etc.), or specialized gear (i.e. camping gear, climbing gear, wet suits, helmets and safety equipment, skiing/snowboarding equipment, etc.) that you can already rent.
Aside from your every day clothes, you should have no issues renting, borrowing or buying the gear you need for anything you might want to do - you already don't need to pack for every possible situation, so you already have a ton of freedom when it comes to traveling with the bare minimum, and this will only get easier.
Communication / Language Barriers
In a perfect world, we'd all speak a universal language, but until that day comes, language is and can be a concern.
Both in-ear and real-time language translators are readily available, and eventually they'll be ubiquitous; when headphone technology and battery power makes it convenient to wear "all day" headphones or semi-permanent ear implants around the clock.
And, of course, they'll be useful beyond just language; imagine being able to turn off all sound so you can sleep peacefully, or tuning into your meditation playlist to the exclusion of all else, or playing white noise to drown out all the chaos; there are a million benefits to in-ear or semi-permanent headphones, whichever way it goes, and it'll make for one less thing you have to worry about as you trot around the globe.
Travel tomorrow will look a lot different from travel today.. and I can't wait for the day when technology allows us to move, live, work and play freely, from anywhere in the world.
If you're aware of any new tools, tricks, products, technologies, etc. that you think will impact travel or make travel easier, please leave a comment or create your own post; I'd love to hear about it!