We made a family trip to Europe after more that two decades. Technology has made it much easier for us to travel to various cities and more importantly within the cities.
I remember in our earlier trip making a hotel booking needed one to install fax machine on your telephone line. This machine was used to fax your credit card to the hotel. This was the only way the booking could be done. There was no email at that time.
A lot of research had to be done, through travel guide books and talking to friends and acquaintances. We would carry photocopies of travel books and hand written notes. This was better than carrying the book which was much heavier.
On arriving at a destination which would be at an airport or a train station, the first task was reaching our accommodation. Luckily detailed metro maps were available. These along with notes from the detailed briefings from friends, along with a city map made it possible to navigate our way to our accommodation.
Subsequent travel in the city to visit places was done almost exclusively by the metro. It was not intuitive and easy to use the trams and the public buses.
This is how it was done. Now things are better.
On our recent trip, after more than two decades, we found that technology has made everything intuitive and easy to use.
Our smartphones have become everything. They are our travel material source, they are our maps and most importantly we get accurate and clear guidance on how to move by public transport. How to walk to the nearest tram station or bus station, how much time will it take to walk, which tram or bus to take, how many stops it will be to our destination, which tram or bus to take next and finally how to reach your final destination with detailed instructions about the streets to walk and the turns to take.
With this we reached our accommodation correctly. Every time.
Two things have happened.
One; we are able to travel by tram or bus instead of the metro. Traveling by tram or bus is so much better for us visitors for a short time. We are able to see much more of the city and its environs.
Two; we did not have to ask for directions from passers by. This was a problem two decades back as there was often a language barrier.
With all this we fell into a set pattern when we reached a new destination. On reaching first thing we would do is have a meal, this would usually be in a fast food outlet of a known brand. Next we would look for a tourist information center, go there and buy a two or three days public transport pass. Then with our smartphone as a handy assistant we would use the public transport to reach our accommodation and subsequently to freely see the city.
Technology made us confident and we could see much more and go to specific places of our choice.
The biggest change being the ease with which we could now use all types of public transport.