Why do our legs get cramped after sitting still for a prolonged period of time? Genetics provides the answer. We are genetically programmed to move almost constantly. Humans have been on the move since the dawn of civilization. Our anatomy i.e. skeletons and muscle structures have evolved to facilitate food gathering and escape from marauding predators. As our brains grew larger, so did our inquisitiveness and humans began to travel for reasons other than basic needs. Today, we are in the throes of an unprecedented travel boom.
In the Neolithic age, the first sailing vessels facilitated movement of various kinds. Nomadic hunters and gatherers moved in search of food, viz. seasonal wild plants. Ancient man built roads and went on expeditions for military conquests, explorers journeyed to strange lands for carrying out commerce and trade, and wealthy Greeks and Romans travelled to their summer homes and villas for leisure.
In Medieval times, travel was the domain of pilgrims and missionaries. Pilgrims made dangerous journeys to places such as Jerusalem, while missionaries traveled to Ireland and other so-called heathen lands. In the late 16th century, it was customary for young aristocrats and wealthy upper class men to travel to gorgeous European centers of arts and learning such as London, Paris and Rome as a part of their education.
The Industrial Revolution in the 17th century brought leisure travel to Europe. For the first time, people indulged in traveling for pleasure alone. Thanks to industrialized production and the resultant automation, the new middle class of factory owners and managers had the time to travel. And they had the financial resources to back themselves. In 1841, Thomas Cook put together the first package holiday in history by organizing tours in Britain and then to Paris and Alps. The invention of steam railway locomotive in the 19th century further revolutionized travel. The onset of air travel at the end of WW-II proved to be a game-changer, with affordable air travel giving rise to international mass tourism over the years. Italy is a perfect destination for a connoisseur of art and fashion, and the Italy visa appointment from London is a means of realizing that dream.
Travel has undergone a sea-change from steam and internal combustion engine of old, and we are now entering the ‘Third Revolution’ of travel, which would be characterized by futuristic modes of travel.
Virtual reality is set to change the way we travel, from choosing the travel destination and selecting hotels to booking a flight. People will be able to experience exotic locations and available facilities on a VR-enabled headset, before finalizing the travel destination. Google Earth is already allowing us to navigate the world virtually and then decide on a suitable place, while the German airline Lufthansa has created 360-degree videos of Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo that are viewable on YouTube with the help of VR headsets.
The human dream to set foot on Mars may become a reality soon as Elon Musk is pushing ahead with plans to update SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System with smaller rockets that possess faster launch rates. The smaller system, which will carry up to 100 passengers, can be used on Terra firma to shuttle people from one point of the Earth to another in less than an hour.
The Internet of Things has the potential to disrupt travel as we know it today. The network of IoT-enabled sensors, smart phones, tablets and wearable technology, will generate a wealth of data that will simplify guest reservations, accommodation bookings, bag tracking and countless other travel-related functions.
Autonomous cars are driverless cars that are capable of sensing and navigating the environment on their own. Such self-driving cars are set to become a reality within a decade, thanks to Telsa. The autonomous car technology will be a safer alternative to human drivers and an absence of human control at the wheels will also lead to a reduction in gas consumption.
Smart cars use artificial intelligence to offer a hassle-free driving experience. Smart cars can offer route suggestions and also take over the controls in some cases. Flying cars, viz. cars that can fly are also in the research pipeline. With these cars, one can theoretically leave the home or office, drive to the nearest airport, convert over to the aviation mode and fly to the airport nearest to the destination, and then drive the last few miles.
The Magnetic levitation trains are commonly known as Maglev trains. These trains make use of electromagnetic field repulsion to float over a route. The train is lifted by a magnetic field that has no physical contact with the trains. This new mode of transportation is cheap, fast and can be easily replicated on roads.
The hyperloop would consist of long vacuum tubes containing absolutely nothing, not even air. In the absence of air resistance and friction, the passenger-carrying pods would whiz through these tubes at a speed of up to 6,500km per hour, which is 5-6 times the speed of sound. As the vacuum is airless, the pods would not face any air resistance. There would be no rolling resistance and friction either as the pods would float on a magnetic rail embedded inside the tube.
To conclude, Space is the final frontier of travel. Hollywood blockbusters such as Gravity and Interstellar have made space travel a buzzword again and with Elon Musk pioneering efforts to fly rockets to Mars, humankind seems to be destined for a future among the stars.