Cryptocurrency, bitcoin, and NFTs were all just words I had heard of but never paid attention to. However, when I heard that Travel NFTs were penetrating the travel space, I suddenly started paying attention to this digital world.
As an avid traveler, I often use the holiday season to shop for travel-related gifts, such as such as new luggage, a refillable water bottle, and anything else that can make my traveling more convenient. Recently, I heard about a travel gift that could one day be just as valuable as a TSA pre-check or the perfect carry-on bag. These travel gifts are NFTs.
In this article, I’ll break down what travel NFTs are, how they are being used, and if they make for a great stocking stuffer.
What are travel NFTs?
Starting with the basic definition of what are NFTs, they are non-fungible tokens. This definition didn’t make a lot of sense to me so I did some digging.
I discovered that NFTs aren’t tangible things. They are virtual assets that live in a virtual space known as the blockchain. Luke from USA Rover wrote to BGN and explained that NFTs are “typically created on the Ethereum network, which is the most popular blockchain platform for NFTs.”
According to John Nakata, a Technical Specialist at IBR, although NFTs aren’t something you can hold in your hand, they do represent real-world items. Nakata wrote to BGN and explained one of their uses. He shared that “they are often used to represent tangible assets such as airline miles, hotel points, or other travel-related rewards.”
The handy thing about NFTs is that they are extremely difficult to alter, change, or hack, which can offer a level of ease to anyone worrying about online scams.
How do travel NFTs work?
With a better understanding of NFTs, I was curious to know more about their function, so I connected with people who have used or purchased NFTs.
Jessica Martin, who works for an e-commerce store, wrote to BGN and explained how NFTs are used. She shared, “These tokens can be used to purchase a variety of travel-related goods and services, like flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. They can also be used to unlock exclusive experiences, such as museum tours, private classes, and VIP events.”
According to an article on NFTevening.com, the tourism authority of Thailand has created a travel experience around collecting NFTs. Named Amazing Thailand NFTs, 3,999 of these tokens have been placed around different tourist sites in Thailand. Tourists who are eager to collect these limited NFTs can download an app to scan a QR code that will give them access to the NFTs. When visitors collect more than three NFTs, they can unlock special deals and offers. And depending on the travel NFT, there is a possibility of gaining access to events only offered to NFT holders.
So if I were to travel to a destination such as Thailand or any other destination that offers NFTs, I could collect them and create virtual memorabilia of my visit. In fact, Neil Paul, Head of Marketing at Airbrush AI, says, “They are a great way to keep your travel memories alive. They are easy to obtain, and they are a great way to share memories with friends and family.”
With this information, I became a little more intrigued and wanted to learn more about the pros and cons of these digital tools.
(Source: Getty Image)
Pros and cons of travel NFTs
I consider myself a travel-conscious person. This means whenever I take a trip, I do my best to consider the impact on the environment and the local communities of the places I travel to. Thus, I questioned if NFTs are helpful to local economies or if they are just another money-greedy system taking advantage of other countries.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that travel NFTs can and do support the local economy. According to an article on Oveit.com, NFTs are often set up so that the profit is divided between multiple participants. Typically when a travel NFT is purchased, part of the proceeds will go to the artist that created the NFT and then the other part can go to the local tour company or restaurant that the NFT represents.
However, there is often a little bad that comes along with a good thing. The process of making or “minting” any type of cryptocurrency, including travel NFTs, requires using a powerful computer system that consumes a lot of energy. It’s a carbon-heavy procedure that is not great for the environment. Despite this fact, NFTs seem to be trying to balance out this damage by partnering with sustainable and eco-friendly companies.
For instance, ClimateTrade has partnered with TravelX to help travelers offset their carbon emissions when traveling. When a traveler purchases a TravelX NFTickets, ClimateTrade notifies purchasers how much emissions their flights will be outputting. When customers see their potential damage, they have an opportunity to set things right by contributing part of their purchase to one of the 60 verified global mitigation projections on the ClimateTrade marketplace.
Once the transaction is complete and they donate to projects focused on reforestation or renewable energy, for instance, they receive a certificate that shows how much CO2 they offset.
Another example is the Trans-Bhutan Trail in Bhutan, which launched a collection of NFTs specifically geared toward hikers. When visitors walk along this route, they can collect NFTs that offer exclusive experiences and community connections while funding sustainable projects.
(Source: Getty Image)
Do travel NFTs make good holiday gifts?
After doing my research and talking to different professionals, I’ll be honest and say I’m interested in possibly owning some travel NFTs. The question is should I add them to my holiday list as a present for myself or my fellow travelers?
Martin included in her message, “Travel NFTs are also a great way to show your appreciation for someone special. If you want to give your significant other or best friend a thoughtful and unique gift, a travel NFT is a perfect choice. It’s a meaningful way to show them how much you care while giving them access to exclusive travel experiences.”
Thus my final opinion is that travel NFTs can be good gifts for some travelers and perhaps great gifts for all travelers in the future. Because travel NFTs are still developing in the travel space, they make great gifts for business travelers or travelers who are familiar with the cryptocurrency space.
However, I do recommend keeping a close eye on the development of these tokens as they have been predicted by Euronews to be one of the many travel trends of 2023.
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Kiersten is a freelance writer and coach. As a writer, she has written for Travel Noire, Passion Passport, BAUCE mag, and various travel and lifestyle blogs. As a writer, her goal is to write content that inspires others to take action. As a coach, her goal is to empower women to be their most authentic selves. In her free time, you can find her dancing to any song any where.