Bitcoin has gained a lot of traction in the media lately. Driven by Wall Street investors and hedge funds, the price of Bitcoin has recently spiked to an all time high. At the end of November, this crypto-currency’s value soared above 10,000 USD. Increasingly, people are adopting virtual currencies all around the world. In terms of volume, Japan is the most prolific virtual currency buyer and spender in the world, while many in South Korea are buying Bitcoin as a form of investment. Other countries, like South Africa and Australia, are set to be the next to ride the Bitcoin wave.
Well, that’s all well and good for Bitcoin investors and adopters, but what does this have to do with your vacation plans, you ask? The answer, it turns out, is plenty! In 2015, when Bitcoin was still far from being the global virtual currency it was envisioned to be, a man called Felix Weis sought to fund his vacation and travel using only Bitcoin. It wasn’t easy, but even then he managed to travel to more than 27 countries and 50 cities relying on only Bitcoin.
Since then though, due to the increased adoption and recognition of virtual currencies worldwide, Bitcoin-funded traveling has emerged as an attractive industry onto itself! From securing travel itineraries, or journeying through Japan, even the simple joys of sampling great food at a local restaurant—all this can be achieved today via Bitcoin. Even traveling to the final frontier of space is possible today using Bitcoin!
Interested to find out more? Then keep reading and find out how you can travel with Bitcoin.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency. Envisioned as a form of global virtual currency, Bitcoin is similar to conventional currencies in that it has value because other people consider it valuable.
Don’t let the picture above fool you. Unlike conventional forms of currency, you won’t be able to hold a tangible Bitcoin in your hands. This is because Bitcoins are stored digitally, on a collection of computers situated all over the globe. This decentralized group of computers are not tethered to one sole geographical locale, or under the thumb of a single government or company.
The Bitcoin economy is made possible via a software called the ‘blockchain’. This software was the brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto: the enigmatic creator of Bitcoin. The blockchain acts as a global log of transactions found on a decentralized network of computers.
Whenever someone makes a transaction, it is recorded in this blockchain database, time-stamped and made public for other users to see. Each sequential segment of the blockchain is also attached to a cryptographic trail. This makes it almost impossible for people to forge without someone else noticing something is awry. The blockchain thus enables Bitcoin to function as a transparent financial system.
Using Bitcoin on your travel adventures
The adoption of Bitcoin is a trend that’s slated to continue in the coming years. Many travel companies have taken advantage of this fact and are already offering a bevy of unique travel experiences and services to adventurous Bitcoin-funded travelers. How can you tell if an online service accepts Bitcoin? A simple way is to scroll down their page. At the bottom, you’ll find a banner or icon indicating that they accept Bitcoin as a method of payment.
Space travel at Virgin Galactic Using Bitcoin
Let’s start off with a blast! For those of you who are yearning for an unconventional adventure, your next trip may well be to the stars! The world’s first commercial space liner has been offering to send its customers up into the stratosphere since 2013. Journey with Sir Richard Branson’s dedicated team of Virgin Galactic astronauts and hop aboard their WhiteKnightTwo jet aircraft.
Marvel at dawn breaking upon the horizon while climbing 50,000 feet (15.24 km) into the stratosphere. Thereupon, continue your next leg of the journey via SpaceShiptwo. The vessel’s powerful thrusters will propel you the rest of the way into space. This rocket-propelled ride is exhilarating, the likes of which no rollercoaster can hope to replicate.
As the thrusters ebb away, you’ll be greeted by a view of the Earth from outer space that is indescribably, profoundly beautiful. Marvel at our little, blue paradise and the vastness of space in the backdrop, while your body is gradually buoyed by weightlessness as you are freed of the Earth’s gravitational pull.
What more can I say other than that this once-in-a-lifetime experience will set you back 250,000 USD worth of Bitcoins! To get your astronaut wings though, it may just be well worth the price.
Using Bitcoin for hotels, flights and car rentals on Expedia
Since 2014, Expedia—a global travel booking aggregator—has been accepting payment for transactions in Bitcoin! Expedia offers Bitcoin users the opportunity to use the virtual currency to pay for flights, hotels, and car rentals at affiliated listings around the world. The prices in Bitcoin will be valid for 10 minutes. If you do not facilitate payment in 10 minutes, the Bitcoin exchange rate will be updated, and may reflect a new price.
This is made possible via Expedia’s partnership with California-based Coinbase, a digital asset broker that exchanges currencies with digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Visit their website if you’re new to the Bitcoin scene and you want your own share of the Bitcoin pie.
For Bitcoin transactions on Expedia, do take note of the stipulated terms and conditions specific to Bitcoin. Of note, miner fees are involved. If you want a refund, you’ll require a Coinbase account and a valid email address to facilitate it.
Other websites where you can pay for your travels in Bitcoin for flights and hotels are Travel for Coins and BTCtrip. If you’re considering embarking on a boutique adventure to Southeast Asia, consider paying for your travels in Bitcoins at the Smiling Albino travel agency. They will tailor a unique experiential journey to countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.
Journey as a Bitcoin traveler
Increasingly, countries are becoming more open to Bitcoin as a means of payment. This is especially true for Japan. While making your way through the culture-rich, food mecca of Japan, consider stopping by The Pink Cow: a café-bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi. It’s hailed by travelers as a warm, cozy joint with aesthetically-pleasing and irresistibly-palatable food such as their fish and chips soft taco and their beef and black bean burrito and great music! While you’re here, sit for a beat to soak in the atmosphere, maybe even engage in some people-watching!
The Pink Cow hosts some colorful clientele, which range form martial artists to expatriate businessmen. It’s also the first restaurant in Japan to accept Bitcoins! Chef Andy regularly hosts a feast that is exquisitely paired with a ‘Bitcoin Meetup’. Here, you can converse with other likeminded Bitcoin travelers and meet people from all walks of life. The Pink Cow was the first, but it is far from the last shop in Japan to accept Bitcoin. In 2016, Tokyo’s ResuPress (the operator of Coincheck, a prominent Japan-based virtual currency exchange) reported that around 4,200 brick-and-mortar and online stores accepted Bitcoin. This was a phenomenal 4.5 times growth from the figures reported in 2015.
Consider making Bitcoin your virtual wallet
Pictured above is a pioneer Bitcoin globe-hopper, Felix Weis, kicking back in a hammock in San Jose. Back in 2014-2015, when he sought to travel the world relying on just Bitcoin, he ran into many hurdles along the way. This was because the digital currency just wasn’t widely adopted in some countries around the world. At some points, Weis went hungry because he couldn’t buy meals in Bitcoin. If you were to try to do the same thing as Weis today, you wouldn’t run into as many problems. New apps such as Bitmap make it easier to find stores around the world that accept Bitcoin as methods of payment as well.
The virtual currency trend is slated to continue in countries all over the globe. In Russia, Valenok Restaurant has become the first restaurant to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. A restaurant spokesman said that this was done in order to keep pace with the developments of today. In South Korea, Goto Mall—a large underground mall that offers all sorts of goods, from clothing and footwear to home decor—is slated to allow consumers to pay for goods using crypto currency.
Next time you’re journeying abroad, consider bringing along your digital wallet to be a part of the Bitcoin wave! Despite this, Bitcoin skeptics and detractors abound! On the murky side of things, virtual currencies have been used for illegal activities such as laundering money. We’d love to hear what you think, regardless of which side of the fence you’re on.
So, Bitcoin as your virtual wallet while travelling: yay or nay? Let us know what you think in the comments below.