Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that another decade is behind us, and so much has changed in the world of travel since 2010. From the climate and Instagram to biometrics and stopovers, the travel industry has made huge improvements and has been influenced by a variety of factors that dictate how and where we travel. With that said, here are the top factors that have changed travel in the past 10 years.
The first and top of the list is climate consciousness. With changing temperatures, wildfires, floods and other devastating weather conditions continuing to rise, travelers, as well as airlines, are making conscientious moves to be more eco-friendly. Whether it’s emitting plastic onboard, becoming a completely plastic-free airport (i.e. San Francisco International Airport), cutting taxes for trains and increasing them for air travel, or using biofuel versus regular fuel, many parts of the world are working towards sustainability. And it doesn’t stop with airlines and airports either, in the past 10 years, people are also making choices on how they travel (boat versus airplane or train versus car), where they stay (treehouses, hotels that are 100 percent green) and what they do (hiking, exploring on foot, supporting locals). Whatever it may be, climate change is so much more a part of travel now than it was before.
It’s no surprise that Instagram has had a large impact on how travel has changed in the past 10 years. The company launched in 2010 and quickly boomed by the time it was acquired by Facebook. Since then it’s become not only a marketing tool for travel companies all over the world but also an inspiration platform for travel destinations. From the activities people take part in and hotels they stay in to the business class seat they fly in and the sites they see, Instagram has boosted the travel industry and pushed people to visit places they may not have heard or seen before.
3. Uber and Airbnb
Both Uber (launched in 2009) and Airbnb (launched in 2008) blew up in the past decade, paving the way for how people get to and from places and where they stay. In 2018 alone, 95 million people worldwide used the Uber app on a monthly basis, and in the past decade, “260 million guests have booked and stayed in Airbnb properties across the world“. Although they are large players in the game, they have inspired other similar businesses to open up shop such as Lyft, Grab, Sixt, Car2go, Homestay, Ojisu, HomeAway, VillasDirect and more. As we head into another decade, it will be interesting to see what other companies will sprout up, which ones will fade and if regular taxis and hotels will slowly diminish.
Ever since 9/11, the world, especially the US, has become stricter when it comes to security. As a result of this, biometrics has also become a major part of how travel has changed in the past 10 years. Not only have airlines integrated the use of biometrics from checking all the way through to boarding, but airports have also made this possible at border control and throughout terminals. Additionally, Mobile Passport, which debuted in 2016, has allowed US citizens and Canadian visitors to enter the US quickly and efficiently with their mobile phones. The use of biometrics will not be slowing down either, in fact, it will continue to expand, allowing travelers to quickly, effectively and safely travel through airports and into and out of countries around the world via facial recognition.
5. Basic economy
In 2012, Delta Air Lines was the first airline to introduce a new cabin called basic economy, which has a lot of limitations such as not being able to pre-select your seat until check-in, allowing only one small carry-on, not being able to change the ticket or upgrade and being the last to board the plane. Since 2012, other airlines have followed suit including Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and United Airlines.
Looking to take advantage of a long stopover in another country? In the last decade, many country-based airlines have launched stopover programs, IcelandAir being the pioneer, where travelers have the option to tour the city within a 24 hour period before embarking to their final destination. The best part is that these stopover programs offer free tours and stays (depending on the airline), which is enticing and if you’re up for it, why not take advantage of the perk? Currently, the following airlines participate in these stopover tour programs: Air Astana, Etihad Airways, Omar Air, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways.
7. Wellness Trips
Similar to climate conscientious travel, the past decade has brought about an increase in wellness trips. In fact, wellness tourism is increasing 6.5 percent year over year, twice as fast as regular tourism. If you’re not familiar with the term, wellness tourism is defined as “travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing”. This can be anything from doing yoga, pilates or other exercises several times throughout the vacation, heading to thermal hot springs or getting massages and facials at spas. Whether you head to Bengaluru, India, Bali, Indonesia or Alicante, Spain, the world is full of wellness trips to take advantage of and completely unplug from the digital world.