The future of travel?

17th November 2014

It is 100 years since the first paying passenger travelled by plane: a 23-minute flight between St Petersburg and Tampa in Florida. Over the course of that century, air travel has transformed the world. Aeroplanes will carry an estimated 3.3 billion passengers in this centenary year – with all the resulting changes to individual lives, local and global economies, cultures and the environment such mass movement entails. The technological and organisational developments that have made this possible highlight the potential for transport technologies to transform our world. But what of the next 100 years? With technologies seemingly developing faster than ever before, what is the future of travel?

A recent report, compiled by travel booking website Skyscanner,¹ looks ahead just 10 years and presents a picture of ever more exotic tourist destinations (from resorts under the sea to hotels on the moon), airports staffed by multi-lingual holograms, and personalised AI assistants that can choose and book your holiday for you. Trying to anticipate and plan for future trends is important both for companies and governments but it is not just technological developments that can be hard to predict: cultural responses towards technology are often even more unexpected and can affect its uptake.

The ITC believes that an improved understanding of our motivation to travel is an essential part of being able to anticipate more accurately what technologies might become popular and how travel behaviours might change; and therefore to plan more effectively for the future. The ITC’s Why Travel? Project examines the motivations underlying human travel by looking back to our evolutionary origins, as well as to the present and into the future, combining insights from biology, psychology, anthropology, literature, philosophy and more. You can follow up on what we’ve been discovering out at


1. Skyscanner’s report The Future of Travel 2024 is available at: