In the olden days of travel, you would simply set off in the putative direction of the closest human settlement. No map. No compass. Nothing particularly fun to do when you got there – well, how far we’ve come.Today we can jet-set to almost anywhere in the world. We have space-age arctic wear to keep us warm in the chilliest climates and an answer to nearly every disease and parasite that would mistake us for an F.O.B (fresh off the boat) meal (and lets face it noone likes being a mosquitoes dinner!). All this freedom to roam is the gift of technology; Boats, planes, trains and vaccines. Malaria tablets and GPS. But it’s a gift that keeps giving. Most travellers believe that they themselves are living at the zenith of travelling ease – after all, thing are so easy. But this is just one more example of the very human tendency to see our own epoch as the time and place. The queasiness that Space X and the Oculus Rift engender – surely this is too much? Something’s got to give – was the same apprehension felt in the ’60s when colour TV was unveiled?
So, what are those game-changing innovations chugging over yonder horizon? From apps like Skyscanner which uses a metasearch engine for flights, hotels and car hire, to Live Streamed Travelling as an example of techy solutions, here are three ways that technology has changed (or at least tried to change) the scope of travelling.
Ultrasonic pest repellers
As someone who is a professed animal lover, it might sound strange for me to present an ultrasonic pest repellent as a techy solution to perennial travel issues. Well insects do give me the ‘heebie jeebies’, that much is true, but I would never want to see them get ‘zapped’ or tortured, no matter how much they try to suck my blood! So this entry is more a word of warning than an (ultrasonic) singing of praises. But I can see why pest repellents are popular on the ‘travel tech market’. Every year, squeamish folk spill out of boats and planes into beautiful paradises. However, many of these paradises are the permanent homes of some of the Earth’s most scary critters. Dinner-plate-sized spiders are as common as muck in Australia and South America. And in India, cockroaches grow to the size of small mice. Let’s not even get into the things in the water because that would give you nightmares for days!
Enter the ultrasonic pest repeller. This nifty little thing plugs into your plug socket and emits a super-high frequency that’s intolerable to spiders, insects and vermin – or so they say. In reality a pest repellent- however soothing it’s description might be- is as useful as a flying pig. In formal testing, while some pests have been shown to be put off by these noises, many haven’t, making this device a partial win at best. At worst, it provides a false sense of security, which is what you should be aware of in the dead of night when you are feeling like you have been set upon by vampires. Because chances are there are a dozen blood sucking vampires hovering around your bed in anticipation of their midnight snack!
So as far as techy solutions go, the pests can rejoice in knowing that they can have us much blood as they desire, but bad luck for the humans that become a mosquitoes ‘all you can eat’buffet.
Live streamed travelling
Live video applications in travelling are increasingly popular. They grant you a kind of access to places you might otherwise be prevented from ever seeing. There are many sites which now offer live-cam access to devices in beautiful locations offering views of the Pantheon in Rome, 42nd Street in New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
In other industries, live-cam streams have been hugely successful. Perhaps because of the unique atmosphere of a casino, many online gambling companies are offering live, video-linked games that can be enjoyed by customers from the safety of their homes – and they’re proving very popular. Evolution gaming actually began offering blackjack online via live video in 2006 through websites such as online casino Mr Green. Many years before Thomas Cook got the bright idea of using virtual reality to let their customers explore virtual holiday destinations before committing to the buy.
In addition to live streams from cameras around the world being available online, many players in the tourist industry use live streaming on social media such as YouTube and Facebook to show potential customers where they could be if they were to use their services. VR and live streaming seem to have more of a place in industries where one’s actual presence in a different location – to many, that is the whole point! Now hows that for a new way of looking at travel? Because let’s face it, when the skies are miserable and grey, nothing sounds more appealing than being able to be transported into the rolling hills of Tuscany than through VR, all from the comfort of your own sofa. One thing is for certain, techy solutions that can take you into another country, without having to pay, is my idea of a good time!!
Apps for travelling
Here’s where the good of technology really comes into its own. Connecting more people than ever before, the world has had a chance to work on the many niggly bits of the travel experience, and now, there’s an app for that. In fact there seems to be an app for just about everything these days; from an app that pretends to be your boyfriend to apps that let out horrific noises, when it comes to techy solutions the world is your oyster. Luckily in the travel app world, you don’t need to navigate the complexities of a fart button to go to Peru.
Forbes recently put together a handy list. Here are some standouts:
- XE Currency lets you access exchange rates without an internet connection. In certain situations, that’s really handy (especially if you are in the middle of a cave where WIFI fails to exist)
- Hostel World is the biggest hostel booking site in the world, and is far cheaper than booking a hotel. Oh and bonus tip, you can meet some really lovely people when staying in a hostel!
- Sky Scanner is a flight search engine which combines data from hundreds of different companies. It’ll save you time and might land you that life-saving flight you’d otherwise have missed. Because let’s face it, we have all been in that situation where you booked a flight, only to find there was a cheaper flight elsewhere. Ah drat!
So, there you have it. Don’t take our word for it though – have a Google. You never know what techy solutions are out there, just waiting to solve your travel problem.
Do You Find That Technology Helps You Travel More Efficiently?