It goes without saying that technology has had a tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. Many of the everyday things we now take for granted were considered to be nothing more than fanciful flights of science fiction just a few decades ago.
Travel has certainly seen its share of technological advances, and we’ll look at some of the tools and online services that cater to the travelling public in this Oaken Blog post. We’ll also note some of the amazing new hi-tech gadgets that you can take with you on your travel adventures.
Online planning tools
To get the most out of any excursion, you need to do your homework before setting off, and there are plenty of websites available to help you plan your trip. With a quick internet search you can determine basic details for a location, including the best time of year to visit, as well as a list of things to take in while there.
One online tool that's invaluable when researching a new destination, which may not immediately come to mind, is Google Maps. With capabilities far beyond merely providing directions from Point A to Point B, Google Maps provides the locations of nearby shops and other attractions, along with feedback from other patrons.
Also, don’t forget the Google Maps Street View option. As the name implies, Street View mode lets you zoom down to the street level, so you can remotely explore the neighbourhood you plan to visit. With Street View, you can travel along any street almost as if you were walking down a sidewalk. Taking virtual tours of places we’d like to visit with Street View is one of our favourite ways to dream away a cold Canadian winter evening. It really is the next best thing to being there!
Online booking tools
There's a growing list of websites that provide real time comparisons, for everything from flights to hotel accommodations. Sites like Trivago and Expedia are two of the more popular sites for comparing hotel and accommodation prices. Kayak also compares flight prices to help you find the best flights, based on your budget and intended travel time.
For those looking for a different take on their accommodations, Airbnb may be an option to consider. While some Airbnb customers are using the service in an attempt to find less costly accommodations, many others prefer to stay in private residences in order to immerse themselves in the local culture, and experience what it's like to live as a local.
Gadgets to take with you
The introduction of tablets and e-book readers accelerated the use of tech-related gadgets by modern day travellers. Whether used to keep up on the news when away from home, or simply whiling away the hours waiting for a flight, few travellers today would be willing to do without these electronic conveniences. For these individuals, there are now some exciting new tools available to help you make better use of these devices.
For instance, wireless routers can help keep you connected when the local wi-fi is less than reliable. If you have wired internet in your accommodation, a mini travel-sized router can let you set up your own network so that you can have as many devices online as you wish, without having to share with other wi-fi users. Especially if you plan to stream movies during your down time, this is definitely an option to consider.
For those using a smartphone or digital camera to chronicle their once-in-a-lifetime trip, backing up those precious images makes a lot of sense. Small external hard drives have become much more affordable, and even though they can be had in a compact size, they still have the capacity to store and backup all your memories.
Of course, keeping your devices charged can be a challenge if you're out and about all day. We highly recommend taking a portable battery along, to recharge your phone or tablet while you’re on the go. These external batteries are now small enough to be packed easily, and can always be at hand for emergency charging.
For those preferring to spend their time in more remote locations but still want to stay connected, new advances in solar chargers make it possible to keep all your devices topped up. Whether it’s your smartphone, a GPS unit or even a digital camera, a solar charger can keep all your electronics fully charged even when the nearest charging station is miles away.
Finally, it appears that the smart device revolution has been extended to include suitcases. Yes, it's now possible to get a “smart suitcase” that carries the onboard technology necessary to track your bags. Of course, this has been possible for some time now through a number of small tracking devices that you could include in your luggage, but the new smart suitcases have additional capabilities. For instance, a smart suitcase can tell you exactly how much your bag weighs – a handy feature for compulsive souvenir shoppers. In addition, the new smart suitcase can tell you if your luggage has been opened or tampered with while it's out of your sight. With so much attention being paid to security concerns, being able to monitor your luggage at all times is a feature worth considering.