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Are Bitcoins the Travel Currency of the Future?

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We here at T+L have been reading a lot about Bitcoins lately.

The virtual currency—unaffiliated with national institutions and easily traded anonymously—has seen its value skyrocket to over $1,000 per “coin.” Whispers abound of a potential bubble (remember Tulipmania?). Today those whispers turned to full on warnings, when Chinese banks instructed financial institutions not to trade in the digital money. Yet while the news briefly caused the prices to tumble, they're once again on the rise.

Bubble or no bubble, it seems likely that digital money is here to stay. And the travel industry is helping.

It is now possible to book flights, reserve hotel rooms, rent a villa, pay for dinners, and buy souvenirs with the cryptocurrency. But at $1,012 dollars per bitcoin, how exactly does one pay for that $100 hotel room? That's where the virtualness of it all really shines: simply fork over 0.09015 bitcoins.

Among the travel companies accepting the payment? Virgin Galactic, of course. That $250,000 trip to space suddenly sounds a lot more affordable when it's only 225 bitcoins.

Check out where you can pay with the controversial coinage here.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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