How is technology changing travel?


There was a time when traveling was a more dangerous and dramatic affair. Marco Polo’s journey to China and back took almost twenty-four years. Fortunately, the onset of technological development is making travel easier by the day.

Man's smartwatch showing a boarding pass

Never before in human history have so many people been able to travel so far, so easily. Thanks to travel-orientated sites (not to mention the internet itself), you can discover places you would never have known existed.

As a modern business traveler, you’re unlikely to be asked to trek by foot along the Eurasian Steppe. Contemporary traveling, however, can still pose a number of problems and difficulties. Here are a few ways in which technology has indelibly changed the face of travel for the better, making our lives that bit easier.

Translation apps

Translation technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the past decade or two. For centuries mankind would communicate in foreign countries through wild gesticulation and raised voices. With the advent of translating apps and smartphones, however, those days are over. Whether you’re in the muggy jungles of Southeast Asia or the chilly mountains of Patagonia, total miscommunication is a thing of the past.

The ability to communicate with native speakers, even the bare minimum, allows you to get more out of your trip. Any seasoned traveler will tell you that visiting another country isn’t just about seeing the parks, museums and beaches. Getting the most out of your trip involves engaging with the people who live there on their terms. You’ll notice how this gives you a more authentic experience of wherever you are – nobody knows a place better than the people who live there. With a translation app on your smartphone, you’re capable of asking and answering simple questions and some basic communication. While you might still be a million miles away from a fluid conversation, the ability to ask one or two key phrases on the spot can make a huge difference.

Electronic payments

The global shift toward electronic payment is pretty much universal. Whether you’re in mountainous Tibet or a small town along the Nile, there are bound to be places you can pay by card. Gone are the days of being reliant on a wallet full of unfamiliar, multicolored notes and coins of unknown value. It’s always worthwhile keeping a small amount of local currency on your person. But with your debit and credit card, you’ll never have to worry about micro-budgeting over the course of your day.

There is an unarguable level of convenience to being able to make card payments while abroad. It also happens to be somewhat safer. Lose your card or, heaven forbid, become a victim of theft, and it’s more of an inconvenience than a catastrophe. Losing a bag or wallet with a few hundred dollars worth of currency, however, can be an emergency situation which can ruin your trip entirely. By no means will you ever be impervious to financial misfortune while you’re away. But it’s still good to know that there is a myriad of online security checks between your money and a local pickpocket. Peace of mind is something that is always welcome.

Organisation

The days of visiting a travel agent in order to secure a hotel and flight combo are pretty much gone. You can organize your trip online, or even entirely from your phone, and rest assured that every variable is considered ahead of time. Your ground transportation, for instance, can be taken care of by Blacklane. Our comprehensive booking process ensures you can rely on a consistent level of quality. A familiar service in an occasionally unfamiliar world. Operating in over 300 cities across the globe, we can make sure your ride to and from the airport (as well as your daily affairs) is taken care of. With your ground transport sorted well in advance you can relax and approach your time off with some peace of mind.

Your accommodation and day-to-day agenda can be taken care of before you even leave the comfort of your home. Inspiration for destinations can be sought from Instagram or Pinterest accounts you follow. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll have all the time in the world to concentrate on the more important matters at hand. Nobody wants to spend half their time on holiday working out the practicalities of enjoying their time. This is something best done well in advance, and by dealing with the minutiae before you touch down.

Safety

No true adventure abroad is really complete without that element of uncertainty. There’s no need for that uncertainty to represent danger, though. It’s an unfortunate fact that you’re more prone to crime in some places as a visitor. Luckily, as technology progresses so your safety increases. Innovations in police technology mean you can rest assured that your potential for misfortune decreases by the year. Apps such as Find My Phone have rendered phone theft almost obsolete. In fact, most of your electronic belongings are now traceable – even suitcases.

Portable phone chargers (or even solar powered ones) reduce the chance that you’ll be stuck somewhere without access to your phone. You can always call for help if you ever find yourself in a tricky situation. Longer battery life for your phone means you can download city guides onto them and continually refer to them over the course of your day. Having an expert local opinion in your back pocket means you can avoid less desirable areas or areas associated with crime.

Traveling can provide some of the most rewarding experiences you can hope for, and it has never been an easier dream to fulfil. With today’s tech you can organise a trip to any part of the world without leaving your armchair, and once there you can enjoy yourself more completely. Who knows what technology will hold for us in the near future.