Are you a fan of virtual travel? Does it sound intriguing, or do you prefer more real-world experiences? With technological advancements, virtual travel may be a stepping stone for even greater travel explorations.
This is where the metaverse comes in. Expanding the realm of possibilities, this virtual reality space is expanding into the travel industry. According to TechTarget,com, the metaverse is an immersive 3D virtual space that allows humans to experience life in ways they don’t have access to in the real world. If you’re curious about how technology and travel will intersect, this article shares one of the newest trends in the travel space.
What is the metaverse?
According to Science Focus, the metaverse is an expansion of the internet, and it brings together virtual worlds and can be accessed through devices such as virtual reality goggles.
Similar to virtual reality games, where it feels like you’ve been digitally transported into the game’s background, the metaverse instead mirrors the real world. It allows you to have a meeting that feels like an in-person experience in virtual spaces.
Beyond virtual reality, the metaverse also consists of augmented reality, which integrates virtual reality into the real world. Think about the Pokemon game, where you can hold your phone to a tree and see a digital pokemon on your screen.
It is these two elements that are expanding the possibilities within the travel industry.
How will the metaverse affect travel?
Like many travelers, you’ve probably started planning your summer 2023 trip by looking through Pinterest and Instagram. Although pictures of people’s vacations and 60-second reels are alluring, it’s still not the same as visiting a place.
Wouldn’t it be nice to tour a resort, beachfront, or even a city without committing to booking a flight and hotel? That’s where meta-travel comes in.
The concept of virtually exploring destinations has piqued the interest of many young travelers. According to a survey done by Booking.com, 45% percent of Gex Z’s and 43% of Millennials said they were interested in exploring places virtually before they explored them in person.
By spending a few days in the metaverse, you could experience sandy beaches and get a better understanding of a destination before stepping foot in another country. This could allow you to plan your trip better, know what to expect, and overcome fears of traveling to unfamiliar places.
The benefits of the metaverse extend to online events, where people can virtually visit trade shows and exhibitions while interacting with other guests. Besides helping you with pre-vacation planning, the metaverse can also enhance your experience while on a trip.
Augmented reality or AR can help you access exclusive content while visiting specific destinations. While most tourist locations offer general information on landmarks and monuments, AR offers interaction. With AR, you can get information about different locations and play games like a scavenger hunt to be better acquainted with a tourist space.
Image getting fun facts about the Eiffel Tower straight to your phone. The metaverse can also virtually rebuild famous sites as if you were experiencing it centuries ago.
Are you ready for more virtual travel experiences?
As a traveler myself, I 100% will always choose a real-world experience over a virtual one. That being said, I do see the benefits the metaverse has on the tourism sector.
I’ve traveled to places where the pictures didn’t match my expectations, not to mention visiting places and getting lost because I didn’t understand a city’s mapping system.
Metaverse travel can solve all those problems and better connect travel companies with other travelers. But before I go out and purchase my VR goggles, I do wonder a few things.
Lingering questions about metaverse travel
Mass tourism still needs to be solved in many places, such as Italy and Bali. The intention of virtual travel experiences is to give travelers a taste of what they could experience in person. However, the question is, will this add to the problem of having too many tourists in one destination? Will places that suffer from under-tourism have access to this technology?
Looking at the broader picture, the use of technology and travel is better geared toward smart cities. These are cities whose infrastructure heavily relies on technology, like Dubai, which has digitalized 90 percent of government services with plans to reach 100%. Even in the United States, cities like Boston have created apps to help residents with parking issues and report crimes like graffiti.
Although technological advancements are a vital part of the evolution of humankind, what about the non-smart destinations? What about the places so beautiful and lush that WiFi signals can’t break through the canopy of trees?
Yes, I’ll admit it’s fun to open up your phone and play interactive games, but ultimately if I’m interacting with AR, I’m spending more time on my phone and less time interacting with the subtle beauty that can’t be accessed through a screen.
As someone who loves to wander the world, I welcome these new technological additions, but I stay connected to my love of travel. It’s a love that doesn’t consist solely of finding fun facts or pinging the best restaurant. It is a love for the unknown, a love to connect to something or someone different from what I know.
With a balance of meta and real-world experiences, traveling can continue to thrive.
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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.