Every night the national news does another story about rising fuel costs and the airlines. This airline is cutting services, that one is cutting out routes, X number of employees will be out of work soon... It prompted a discussion that echoed many of the things said in this thread.
I'm old enough to remember air travel being the luxury item James mentioned. I've also seen things change to where the last couple of generations of travelers have been able to take cheap/reasonable air travel for granted. I want to say "One day we will not be able to go anywhere." will never happen but it may. (Doubtful though possible.) What all of this will do is alter how and where we travel. It will (hopefully) bring about new forms of long distance transportation. In the interum, it will also allow (or force) us to re-evaluate our destinations. I know I sound old-fashioned but sometimes our "own back yard" isn't such a boring place to visit. I would love to see parts of Europe, South America, Australia and SE Asia. I also realize that I have only visited 20 of our 48 (contiguous) states (my back yard).
I tend to view the travel situation as a blessing and a curse... The curse being all of the people losing their jobs and income. The blessing - a resurgence in alternatives such as bus and train travel. An influx of money to these types of companies may actually improve the quality of service and quantity of destinations. In the US, the trains and buses have been taking a hit for a very long time. It would be nice to see them back.
I agree Isa - and it's really not that long at all since air travel was considered a luxury! I remember a kid in our school going to Spain on holiday, and everyone thinking it was amazing, and that was mid eighties.
I hope that people in the UK start to look travel at home, to see some of the amazing places here, something which could help to rejuvenate and maintain local communities and rural economies that have really taken a battering over the past 20 years.
I fear that in the future the world will be so "small" that regional differences will disappear, and the excitement will disappear from travel to the formerly exotic parts of the world. Even now, with everyone watching basically the same TV on cable, we've lost quite a bit.
Firstly, I will refer all to my post Golden Age of Travel? from a few weeks ago, where I blurted out some similar thoughts. I do think that travel will become harder for most people, especially in the near term as fuel prices soar, the world economy sags and countries start to turn inwards to protect their own.
That being said, just because travel becomes hard doesn't mean it becomes impossible. In fact, it may be a good thing to make travel harder, that way we appreciate it more when we do it. I think that anyone who has done a large overland journey can attest that there is a certain satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from arriving at the end of it that one doesn't get by hoping on a plane and flying to Hong Kong.
Anyway, it's a good discussion, and one we as travel junkies need to keep our eyes on.
things change all the time, but people adapt to them. it may change (a thought we all get queasy about), for the worse or the better, but it'll be ok in the end. humans just adapt.