Packing for four months away from home is a hard thing to do. There are outfits to be made, accessories to be bought, and visas to be applied for. I’ve spent hours going through my closet trying to find which outfits will make me look like I belong in France, yet unique enough to still be from New York. Clothes don’t need adapters, or foreign phone companies to make them work. Wherever you bring them they will be the same, no extra charges, no data usage, no spotty cell service.
I know sometimes we wish our clothes could emit Wi-Fi signals wherever we went (hey, Apple are you listening?) so we can Instagram our artsy landscape shots from France or look up where to find the best crepes. But this shows how much we rely on technology for everything and anything.
By no means am I saying go technology free. Technology does make it easier to get maps, dictionaries, both helpful when in a foreign city. Phones and cameras can take professional quality pictures so you can remember your trip forever. But there can be downsides too. So, without further ado, here are five ways technology has changed the way we travel.
1. Facebook, twitter, Instagram…Oh my!
Going to the Tower of London? Tweet about it. Having some delicious French crepes? Instagram it. Meet someone cool in Paris? Add them on Facebook. With the advent of social media, every aspect of a person’s travel can be seen on the Internet. It’s definitely a great way to stay in touch with people, and its great for making connections. Now, let’s just hope that people are more concerned with the history and the culture of the place they are, rather than how many likes they can get for their photo.
2. Adapters, on adapters, on adapters…
Since there is no universal electrical outlet (Again, Apple are you listening?), every country all over the world has a unique outlet and adapter. So if you want to bring your laptop, iPhone, iPad, iPod, hair dryer, kindle, or camera, you will have to bring numerous adapters to attach to your plugs in order to charge the huge amount of technology you have brought with you. Just make sure you have a big enough bag to fit all those wires and plugs, or the worst thing that could ever happen to you could happen (queue dramatic music): dead batteries! I wonder how people in the 18th century survived?!
3. No camera? No problem
These days, every piece of technology seems to have a camera installed on it. The best part is that some of these built in cameras are pretty good quality. Since I am a photographer myself, I will be bringing my digital camera in addition to my phone. For travel purposes, sometimes it’s easier to take pictures with what you have in your bag or pocket like a tablet or phone. If you want an actual camera, some companies like Nikon and Canon are making affordable digital cameras that are perfect for travel, and take great pictures. We all know how much everyone wants to see my professional quality pictures of cheese and baguettes.
4. Google Maps
While abroad, you may want to travel to more than one place, so now you’re wondering, “Well, how do I get to said new place?” Instead of old fashioned maps, people are turning to virtual maps. You can use Google Maps or MapQuest if you have service and save the images for later. There is also an app called Citymaps which you have to pay for, but then you can access the map without internet. If you are using public transit, there are even apps to help you choose the right bus, subway, or train system to get to where you want to go. In a society full of people who hate to ask for directions, free Wi-Fi and Google Maps is definitely the way to go.
5. Home is where the Wi-Fi is
So many people are obsessed over what to post to Instagram, that many tourist attractions all over the world now offer free Wi-Fi. Not only that, but they encourage people to post by providing their own hashtags. Free Wi-Fi helps promote publicity and attendance. So if you really need the Internet and you don’t have service, there will most likely be Wi-Fi anywhere you go.