Whether for business or pleasure, our main concern when we travel is the destination. We want to minimise the amount of time we spend getting there and back. Particularly for business travel, we’re looking for efficiencies and familiarity where possible to reassure us that everything will go smoothly with no surprises. For holidays, we rely on friends, Instagram and deals to inspire our next destination. We don’t think about how much travelling takes out of us and the importance of sleep and rest.
Herein lie the “dead zones” of travel, that pose the greatest opportunity and largely unchartered territories of insight. Airbnb have helped us to live like a local and Away have given us beautifully functional suitcases that lets us focus on the travel itself. Authentic experiences and nice luggage aren’t new. We’re now seeing airports, airlines, hotels and governments open up completely new ways of seeing travel. BMW chauffeured rides to the runway, airport hotels that aren’t a soulless rip off, and destinations that were previously inaccessible for tourists. We are starting to shift our perceptions towards elements of travel that we had considered dead.
Sleep is no longer wasted time
When travelling, it’s so easy to get caught up in the feasibility of cramming as much in as possible in terms of logistics, without bearing in mind our physical and mental ability to cope with the strain of travel. Studies show that a lack of sleep impairs our cognitive function and moral judgement in a similar way to alcohol. Airlines such as Emirates and American Airlines are investing in better quality sleep for passengers, while hotels are building experiences around sleep, such as Six Senses with its upgraded sleep program. Sleeper trains are resurging in popularity as we allow ourselves to slow down and enjoy the journey itself.
Airports are not just transit points
The airport need not be somewhere to rush through that demarcates the end of your holiday. Virgin cheerily announced on its website, “ta-dah! — the Departure Beach. It’s essentially a super-cool Virgin Holidays lounge, but on a beach. Genius.” Genius indeed, this experience can be yours for only £20 (provided you’re already in Barbados), but if you have $7,500 to spare you can sign up for membership at Los Angeles International Airport’s VIP terminal, The Private Suite. JFK airport is due to reopen the 1962 TWA Flight Center as a first class hotel, retaining its 1960s glamour combined with restaurants, bars and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.
From backwaters to hotspots
Remote destinations will no longer be restricted to the rich and/or uber adventurous. Saudi Arabia, Georgia, and even North Korea may soon top your list of go-to places. Saudi Arabia is relaxing its tourist visa requirements beyond Hajj pilgrims in an effort to diversify its economy away from oil. Plans include the Red Sea Project, a resort that will comprise of 50 islands cross an area larger than Belgium, where women won’t be restricted by the same dress codes. Georgia, the small former Soviet nation is fast becoming the new luxury destination. It’s as fascinating as you’d imagine a country sandwiched between Russia and Turkey, sea and mountains. Hotel brands including Rooms Hotels and Design Hotels have spotted its potential for offering a mysterious and unexpected experience compared to its neighbours. North Korea is also slowly removing its veil of mystery, with its recently opened Masikryong ski resort. Three-hours drive from Pyongyang, Masikryong has 6 miles of runs, an ice rink, and a host of other attractions. The billion-dollar beachside Wonsan resort is also tipped to be North Korea’s answer to Malibu when it opens next October. Koryo Group offers several tours to North Korea, including one incorporating the Pyongyang Marathon in 2019. Small steps, but a giant leap in opening up perhaps the world’s most secretive nation to mainstream tourism.
To awaken new insights within travel that are ripe with opportunity, we just have to consider what is typically overlooked and dismissed as an unimportant facet of the overall travel experience. In an age where picking a holiday destination is akin to picking a film on Netflix and any additional minute spent in the security queue is a minute less on the beach, the traditional tedium of travel should be alleviated in as many ways as possible. Remember, this doesn’t always mean making things quicker, you can also make them more fun…!