Home
Humans love to go on vacations. But no one enjoys the high cost, the hassles of planes, trains, and automobiles, arranging for pet care, and so on. I wonder if scientists could find a way to replicate the good elements of a vacation without the bad parts. In other words, if you applied some serious science to the topic of vacations, could you create a synthetic experience that would be almost as good as the real thing but without the cost and hassle?

By now you are digging into your treasure trove of science fiction references and thinking about hallucinatory drugs and holodecks and that sort of thing. But I'm talking about using current technology and resources to cobble together a low-cost vacation-like experience without the problems of a real vacation. Is it something we could do today?

A scientist might begin by studying people's chemical compositions before, during, and after vacations. Obviously a day at the beach creates a different set of chemical responses than kayaking. You could probably catalog the various types of vacations and how they change people.  That would give you some sort of baseline to measure whether your artificial experiences are generating the same chemical results as the real thing. I assume scientists would be looking for changes in serotonin, oxytocin and other chemicals associated with relaxation and pleasure.

If you break down a vacation, it usually has some subset of the following elements:

1.       Novelty - experiencing something different

2.       Forgetting the stress of home and work

3.       Relaxation

4.       Learning about another culture

5.       Challenge (e.g. hiking, climbing, etc.)

6.       Physical beauty

7.       Everyone is nice to you.

8.       Shared adventure and memories with family and/or lovers

9.       Sun

10.   Exercise

11.   Water

That's not a complete list. But accept for now that a vacation can be broken down into its component parts, and that people will have different preferences for which elements they like best.

Now let's assume we try to build a synthetic vacation experience within one hour's drive from a major metropolitan area. Proximity eliminates most of the cost of transportation and simplifies the planning. Hotel rooms can be relatively inexpensive because they won't be on a beach or other prime real estate.

We don't want you driving home at night, even though you could, because that would get you back into your everyday head. So let's say our fake resort has luxurious pet care facilities so you can take Rover with you in the car and see him as often as you like during the day while he plays with the other dogs in a nice grassy area.

Obviously we could design our fake vacation facility to include physical beauty, challenging activities, water, sun, and most of the other elements of a real vacation. And while nothing feels the same as being on the beach, perhaps some combination of massages, extraordinary food, and naps in a hammock will create a similarly pleasing chemical reaction. Remember, we're not trying to imitate the specifics of real vacations as much as the chemical reactions they create.

The tricky part, I'm guessing, is reproducing novelty. While some people enjoy going to the same familiar vacation spots every year, many people need something new each time. They need mental stimulation. I was thinking about this after seeing Woody Allen's new movie, Midnight in Paris. The videography of the Paris streets was so well done that it started to evoke the feeling of actually being there. I would estimate that seeing Paris on film was 10% as cool as being there in person, at least visually. I'll bet you could get that percentage up to 75% if science were applied and the video and viewing rooms were created with that intent. Add 3D, headphones, maybe a wind machine and some smells, and you have an experience. You'd also want the user to control where he explores, and how quickly he moves, street by street. And perhaps you could add some video presence devices to a few foreign locations so users could literally speak with the locals, or simply sit in a British Pub, virtually, and people-watch. A novelty seeker could visit and interact with a dozen places per day, albeit at a lower sensory level. And all of this would be done using current technology. If you want a shared adventure, perhaps each virtual travel room could be family-sized.

I could also imagine having one of these synthetic vacation facilities outside every metropolitan area, each one staffed with a group of people from a particular culture. One facility might be staffed entirely by Mongols, another by Belgians, and so on. Every six months, the entire staff switches locations and brings their special flavor of service to a new location.

Let's all agree that a virtual vacation will never replace the real thing. But we don't always have the time, money, patience, and health for real vacations. I think the market for virtual vacations exists. If we could design the virtual vacation to be about 75% as good as the real thing, for 30% of the cost, we'd have an interesting business model.

 
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +23
  • Print
  • Share
  • Share:

Comments

Sort By:
Jun 26, 2011
Yeah. Because Epcot is EVERYONE's favourite park
I am a 28 years old doctor, mature and beautiful.and now I am seeking a good man who can give me real love , so i got a username Andromeda2002 on--s'e'ek'c'ou'ga'r.c óm--.it is the first and best club for y'ounger women and old'er men, or older women and y'ounger men,to int'eract with each other. Maybe you wanna ch'eck 'it out or tell your friends!
 
 
Jun 24, 2011
========= www.clothes6.us ======

Cheap Nike air Jordan shoes33$,Air Force 1 33$, Nike dunks SB shoe,Nike Shox shoe. Wholesale Cheap Nike shoes with discount jersey, High quality T-shirts,ED hardy t-shirts,ED Hardy hoodies,ED hardy shoes,ED hardy Jeans,Evisu shoes,GUCCI shoes,LV Handbag,Chanel Handbag……welcome to
==== www.clothes6.us ====

Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $30

SOCCER JERSEY 16USD

Handbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $33

Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $14

Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30

Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini) $12

New era cap NY $9

Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $18

New era cap $9

accept paypal and free shipping

========= www.clothes6.us ======
 
 
Jun 24, 2011
========= www.clothes6.us ======

Cheap Nike air Jordan shoes33$,Air Force 1 33$, Nike dunks SB shoe,Nike Shox shoe. Wholesale Cheap Nike shoes with discount jersey, High quality T-shirts,ED hardy t-shirts,ED Hardy hoodies,ED hardy shoes,ED hardy Jeans,Evisu shoes,GUCCI shoes,LV Handbag,Chanel Handbag……welcome to
==== www.clothes6.us ====

Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $30

SOCCER JERSEY 16USD

Handbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $33

Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $14

Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30

Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini) $12

New era cap NY $9

Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $18

New era cap $9

accept paypal and free shipping

========= www.clothes6.us ======
 
 
Jun 21, 2011
I learned a lot about history, archaeology, document preservation, etc. I also met a different sort of person. Very stimulating, and it worked perfectly as a break from the routine.
I am seeking a good man who can give me real love , so i got a username Andromeda2002 on--seekcougar.com--.it is the first and best club for y'ounger women and old'er men, or older women and y'ounger men,to int'eract with each other. Maybe you wanna ch'eck 'it out or tell your friends!
 
 
Jun 18, 2011
I couldn't afford a vacation one year so I took a "holiday of the mind" instead. I registered for an international academic conference on Manichaeism that happened to be coming to my home city. About as far from my day job of software development as I could get.

I learned a lot about history, archaeology, document preservation, etc. I also met a different sort of person. Very stimulating, and it worked perfectly as a break from the routine.
 
 
Jun 16, 2011
Yeah. Because Epcot is EVERYONE's favourite park.....
 
 
Jun 15, 2011
You have just described the 'fake-ation'. Usually this just requires a bottle of spray tan and a good story, when in fact all you did was stay home and space out.
 
 
Jun 15, 2011
It was recently published on some science site that the most memorable part of a vacation is the experience, not the physical place. So, a family outing to a farmer's market can be as wonderful a memory as visiting the French countryside, if your family chooses to be pleasant to one another that day.
 
 
Jun 15, 2011
For this type of vacation to really work, one woud need significant amounts of alcohol and mind warping drugs.

There is NO subsitute for being in a country 5000 !$%*! away from home, especially if you are in some remote area without cell service/internet access. At this point you can truly relax without any urge to check up on something at your home/work/family.
 
 
Jun 15, 2011
I would use the parks. I would buy stock in your company. The buildings should have snap on facades, so we can have the tourist sections of Zermatt this week and Toledo next week. For the fantasy park near Rochester-Buffalo to recreate Lahina in March, we'll also need a dome.

BTW, Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (and its sequels) provides an interesting alternative approach, aiming for more adventure.
 
 
Jun 15, 2011
>Add 3D, headphones, maybe a wind machine and some smells, and you have an experience.

You just described Disney World.
 
 
Jun 15, 2011
For the 30% of the cost part, that is viable. People won't have to make any major flights. Thats 35% of the price gone right there. There are no rental car costs, so thats 10%. There are other obvious savings.
If we use illegal immigrants from mexico, we can run a resort at half cost, while providing a theme. The best part is that if we do that we could advertise the product as "Mexico minus murders" because we get Mexico without the shootings. Given how dumb most Americans are, we could get the food from taco bell and they probably wouldn't know.
Assuming we can get a bunch of pot, we can probably fake Jamaica at 10% of the cost of a normal vacation with a huge profit margin.
Pisa will be easy to fake. The only interesting thing in that whole city is the leaning tower.
We could fake Venice in an area that has fequent flooding. We would just have to build some buildings and ditches. Even Palm Bay, FL , one of the worst towns in the US can do that! "As a palm bay resident, I can say that."
Dangerous destinations are the perfect areas we can fake, because we can cut down on the crime, making more people want to travel to these things.
We can fake a beach with a few swimming pools of water, some bright lights, and APX. 98 Oprahs of sand.
We can probably do Belarus on a budget of less than 10,000 dollars. People will pay a few hundred dollars and they would get to walk around in Haz-mat suits in an area we painted with glow in the dark paint. That has to be very close to what it's like there.
If we fake Paris, the food will be a big money saver, because we can give portions that are way too small and claim they're authentic.
Russia could be a problem. It could be expensive to fake a vast frozen vodka-soaked wasteland where people wait for hours in lines for beats and toilet paper.
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
I bet it'd work. My last "vacation" I just chilled out at home for two weeks with my wife and playstation. It was super effective.
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
Before I got to the "building" part I thought you were talking about drugs. It's a philosophical question, but how much does the reality of the feeling matter if the chemical feeling is the same? People take drugs all the time to squeeze in "fake" vacations that have all the qualities you listed and trigger the proper brain chemicals. I'm undecided myself, but talking about manufacturing fake vacations seems to be going down the same road.
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
!$%*!$%*!$%* video games have much of what you seek. Sexy Beach is on it's fourth iteration, and it's a virtual vacation in an island paradise complete with attractive women with different personality and physical archetypes. The 3D models, other graphics, and physics engine are quite impressive.
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
Sometimes I wonder if life on this planet was at some point very long ago intended (and maybe actually for a time was) to be much as you describe your virtual vacation and with our human propensity to never be satisfied with what we have for very long started tinkering with the original concept until we managed to really screw up the experience. I like to believe that some day in the not too distant future we will once again return to the designer's original intentions.
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
hey scott. i was reading the older responses, and one of them struck an idea in my mind. during the "virtual vacation" time, when the guest was in the british pub sim, or on the streets of paris sim, it would be great if they could have a picture taken of them at the actual location. Like, a computer would photoshop a picture of them as though they were there. Then, they would have faked pictures of their virtual vacation. One more dimension of surreality.
Otherwise, I think your idea sounds great on paper. The only way to really know if it will work would be to open up a sim-resort and try it out.
In fact, you could start small scale by getting a local resort to try this plan out for a few months, and see if the guests liked it.
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
Like a lot of other people said already, this sounds like one of the existing mega resorts. One of my favorite things when going on vacation (or to a new city/county for work) is exploring the area. The first day I get to a new place I spend driving or walking around to see what is out there. With the pre-fab vacation there is none of this exploring.
Several people also mentioned Vegas, and I think this is the closest I will come to enjoying your idea. The last time I was in Vegas we stayed off strip for the 1st half of the time and explored the natural world around Vegas including Death Valley, The Grand Canyon, and The Valley of Fire. Then the 2nd half of the time we spent on the strip exploring the synthetic world of the themed casinos. I know I enjoyed the 1st half of the trip more than the 2nd, but that could have been because this was my 4th trip to Vegas.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 14, 2011
The Onion beat you to it by a few days: "Save Money By Taking A Vacation Entirely In Your Mind"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qYL_KT06-U
 
 
Jun 14, 2011
Rekall salesman "Of course he thinks he been to Mars,that was the memory he chose."
Rekall tech "We haven't implanted the memory yet."

Scott my boy. Put a bag over your head and sit very still in a quiet room for several hours and then tell us about your vacation. Sensory stimulation sits in the backseat on vacations, while sensory deprivation is right there up front with you.
 
 
 
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog