By Jessica Oaks
Getting there is half the fun, right? These days, maybe. From bone-jarring stage coach rides to the ear splitting air travel of the 1960s, traveling has historically been something we endured in order to get to our destinations. Now it’s something we do regularly and in moderate comfort even when first class tickets aren’t an option.
That’s not all that has changed – and is still changing – when it comes to travel, however. Airlines are packing in more people but simultaneously putting tablets in every seatback to create a more fun travel experience. Family road trips used to be an ordeal until in-car entertainment packages became a standard add-on – now OnStar 4G LTE is even turning cars into wifi hotspots. And some of the most common travel stressors are a thing of the past.
Here are seven ways technology is changing the way we travel at home and abroad:
It’s simple to get out the door
Apps like Booking and Skyscanner have made it easier than ever to find flights, rooms, rentals and restaurants, to compare prices and to make reservations. Even better, because many of these apps have made it simpler for everyone from big hotel chains to the smallest AirBNB flat to create listings, travelers can find a wider range of options without having to dig.
There are myriad distractions
Even if you’re crammed into coach on an older plane without seatback entertainment, you no longer have to settle for flipping through the in-flight magazine. You can binge watch your favorite shoes in the air, listen to every album you’ve ever loved while behind the wheel or game your way across the country on the train – and that’s true if the only device you have in your carryon is a smartphone.
We’re never out of touch
Constant connectivity may be the bane of the working man on vacation but you have to admit that continuous talk, text and data anywhere you choose to travel is also a pretty sweet deal. With mobile carriers like T-Mobile giving customers coverage all over the USA, Mexico, and Canada, there are no restrictions on cellphone use while on vacation. You can check in at home as often as you need to whether you’re on the road for business or pleasure. That’s great news for parents taking a break from parenting and workaholics whose vacation plans never included actually checking out.
No more language barrier
Will language lessons become a thing of the past? Perhaps! Translation apps abound and real-time voice translators are finally starting to look like a viable option. The recently debuted Pilot, for instance, is a smart earpiece available for pre-order and will launch with the ability to translate between English, French, Spanish and Italian.
Lost luggage is a thing of the past
Thanks to handy gadgets and apps like Trakdot’s Luggage Tracker tag you’ll always know where your bags are. While that knowledge is not immediately helpful when you’re buying underwear and a new toothbrush at a 24-drugstore in a foreign land, it can help you recover your luggage and the important things in it more quickly.
The customer service experience is better
One of the biggest changes in modern travel is arguably being driven by social media. It’s a competitive industry and so companies in this space do what they can to earn customer loyalty through enhanced responsiveness across social channels. Have a complaint or a compliment to offer? Chances are good you’ll see a follow up.
It’s possible to preview your destination
Some travel companies are already experimenting with virtual reality tours that give travelers are taste of the real thing before they book. For any vacation planner who has had a tough time choosing between two (or ten) destinations a VR walkthrough can be just thing to help make up the mind. But more often than not we don’t need the help because we’re savvier than ever about destination options worldwide. There’s travel inspiration all over the Internet, after all!
Maybe it will never be entirely possible for the journey and the destination to be equally compelling but you have to admit, with technology like that listed above the line between the two is growing ever narrower.