What type of experience do we seek when we travel? Now days, it seems like holiday deals are sold to us like mass products; creating fabricated tourism experiences. So how is passively travelling within this comfortable tourist bubble, far removed from local realities and authenticity, different from seeing a destination through VR-goggles?
Eindhoven Design Academy graduate Emma Verhoeven explores these questions through her graduation project VRcation. This fictitious travel agency offers virtual package-deal vacations; allowing customers to enjoy from the comfort of their own home. Customers would order their own personalised package online, choosing from a mix of sights, environments, and tours. The package would also come with a variety of accessories. Along with their VR-goggles, the customer could choose to receive sand flippers, a cococup, a warm breeze simulator, and even souvenirs. The product isn’t complete without this comical instruction guide, ensuring you get the most from your experience.
VRcation is one of two projects in Verhoeven’s ‘Evolutions of Travel’ series. Through her projects she asks, ”what is a vacation really? Is it a trivial, superficial, frivolous pursuit of vicarious, contrived experiences, another consumer product being sold to us by an industry? Or is it a deeper wish, an earnest quest for the authentic, the pilgrimage of modern man?” Verhoeven hopes that her project will provoke people to think about their own vacation motives.
Her second project, Beyond Destination, acts as the competitor to VRcation and focuses on a different definition of vacation. The backpacker, the hitchhiker, the CouchSurfer, the airBnB-er, and the BlaBlaCar-er are some recent labels given to those looking to travel “off the beaten path”. These mass-tourism alternatives allow you to “travel in a more pure, authentic way.” Beyond Destination plans to explore this trend further through another fictitious travel experience. With the slogan “no need to go far in order to travel deep”, it looks like this will be another VR-goggle experience.
Appreciation and perspective are the two key points in Verhoeven’s projects. Why go to the other side of the planet if you can find beauty and adventure within arms reach? ‘Evolutions of Travel’ plays with these conflicting definitions by showing two speculative travel agencies that derive from different extremes in the tourism spectrum. So forget packing and bookings; put your goggles on, stick your feet in the sand and enjoy your own personalised, simulated vacation experience.