I’ve been traveling for over 10 years now, and within that time I’ve noticed one major change – technology! Tech has changed travel in a number of ways, some for the better, some for the worse.
So, here are 5 ways the 21st century is changing the way we move about.
Guidebooks are a Thing of the Past
When I first started traveling, one thing you would always pack was your guide. It was your Bible, and without it, you would be lost. Your guidebook had all the information you needed for your holiday. Hotel information, maps, restaurant reviews, tourist attractions, guides even contained information on the culture and history of the region.
With the expansion of the internet and WiFi becoming ubiquitous, travelers can access the latest information instantly, from practically anywhere in the world. This means guidebooks are no longer a necessity, and are becoming a thing of the past.
More Accommodation Options Available
10 years ago I picked my lodging options based on what my guidebook suggested. In the accommodation section, it specified expensive, mid-range and budget options in the area I planned on visiting. I picked one, and that was it.
However, in 2017, sites such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing have created a wider range of options. These types of sites allow travelers the option to stay off the tourist trail, with locals, or in a unique establishment such as a castle, tree-house or on yacht. Even luxury hotels have upped their game, providing alternative accommodation options, from floating bubble hotel rooms, to Disney themed rooms.
Travel is Faster
Humanity has become quite impatient, wanting everything yesterday. This extends to travel and transport. We are always looking for the fastest and most convenient way to get somewhere. This demand has lead to companies striving to provide the fastest trains, the quickest flight routes, and the longest non-stops. Newer aircraft such as Boeing’s 787 or Airbus’ A350 allow for ultra-long haul routes once reserved for stopover service.
So, while it once took months of travel on a boat to get from England to Australia, now you can jump on the longest direct flight from Perth, Australia to London, England, and be on the other side of the world in less than 17 hours.
Travel is more Affordable than Ever
It has never been so cheap to travel. There are a number of factors that have lead to the “budget travel” era, but one huge factor is the increase in online competition. Comparison websites such as Skyscanner, Kayak or Google Flights make finding the cheapest deals easy. This puts pressure on the travel industry to be competitive. Any competitor that overprices a product will quickly realize their mistake. In fact, in an article published by The Atlantic, airfare was 50% cheaper in 2011 than in 1979(inflation adjusted dollars of course).
Furthermore, at least on the lodging side of travel, supply is increasing. Anyone can rent a room on Airbnb and take a slice of the tourism industry’s revenue. These rooms are usually offered at a fraction of the price of a hotel. Sites like Couchsurfing and Warmshowers, have also given budget travelers an additional alternative. All of this would not be possible without advances of technology, specifically the internet.
People are Becoming Less Social
Though technology has largely benefited travel, it hasn’t been without drawbacks. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is a change in people’s level of social interaction. There appears to be a negative correlation between portable electronic adoption and face to face conversation. Hotels, tourist-centric restaurants and cafes used to be the type of venues where travelers would gather to mingle, share stories and make friends. Now, it’s typical to see groups of wanderers engrossed in their internet devices and not socializing whatsoever. While this might be a general societal trend, it definitely changes the whole travel experience.
Furthermore, travelers are also now less likely to ask locals for advice. Instead, they turn to their trusty portable device, connect to the local WiFi, and Google whatever questions they may have. This is a huge shame, as my best travel experiences always involve the people I meet and the random experiences I have with them. Usually, these meetings all come from asking a local for some help.
Technology will continue to change travel for the good…and a little for the bad. But the truth of the matter is this, the only constant is change. Nobody ever could have imagined the level of interconnection that we take for granted today. It is however possible, that 50 years from now, future travelers could be looking back to 2017 as the new Golden Age. When travelers had to walk to a cafe to connect to the internet when abroad, or even that they only traveled at 600 mph when crossing an ocean!
Of course, as we’re still currently burdened by cords for our antiquated(by 2067 standards) 2017 tech, of the best ways to organize is with a purpose made cable case. A Universal Gadget Cord & Cable Case, available on Amazon will help with the cluster that typically forms in even the most seasoned travelers bag.