Looking through old picture albums is such a unique experience. We enjoy a glimpse of someone else’s memories and also get to see what our relatives looked like way back and poke fun at their fashion choices (the mullet was never in style, and mullet jokes will never go out of style).
While many of us global nomads appreciate nostalgia and cherish memories from every trip we’ve been on, there are a few things that we are happy to leave behind. Here are five old habits that I, for one, was excited to replace with new and improved technologies.
Taking photos using an analog camera
Digital cameras marked a major change in travel photography, but even they are no longer with us as smartphones replaced them not too long after their launch. Before either technology became part of our world, travelers had the questionable pleasure of using a basic film camera.
Now, some photography enthusiasts will tell you that there’s a certain magic to analog photography, and that’s probably true. But there’s absolutely no magic in realizing you’ve taken nothing but blurry images of the exact moment when dozens of decorated lotus-shaped baskets, filled with the most beautiful candles and flowers, were released onto the Thai river as part of the Thailand Lantern Festival. This after-the-fact disappointment is unparalleled.
Another great example of the disadvantages of analog photography is found in the salt desert of Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni. Travelers love to use the empty spaces of the place to create funny photos filled with optical illusions. Before the digital camera era, they had to guess their way and learn only weeks later just how far off they really were.
Digital and smartphone cameras are not perfect, and their effect on our travel experience has been both positive and negative, with travelers spending too much time taking selfies and not enough time taking it all in. But still, being able to take as many photos as you wish and checking them in real time to make sure everything’s in frame has improved our trips significantly.
Hitting a roadblock
I don’t necessarily mean a literal block, although that’s one of the options, but rather learning that the route you had planned based on your map is no longer available, which forces you to recalculate your route with very little clue how.
Long time travelers have more than one crazy story about getting stuck in the middle of the way, with no vacant hotel room in sight. This may happen due to problematic weather conditions, a political uprising, or just plain construction work. To keep things extra interesting, these incidents usually include thunderstorms and take place in less-than-pleasant neighborhoods.
It takes a village to save a trip, and there are many different technologies involved in changing this reality. Navigation apps, news and weather notifications, and travel booking sites are all part of the magic that has made our planning capabilities bulletproof.
Sending postcards home
Remember that? The email was invented in 1972 and chances are you haven’t sent a postcard since. If you’re not sure what the process even entails, go ask your parents how they would communicate before the send button was around.
There’s actually something cute about hand-written, carefully picked postcards with a stamp and a few lines of travel sharing (shared with literally everyone, because there’s no envelope involved). But the idea of having to wait so long to hear from a loved one who’s on the road seems absolutely crazy nowadays. Thank god for email, WhatsApp, social media, and any other form of communication. Hipsters, we love you, but please don’t bring this vintage custom back.
Booking through travel agencies
Don’t get me wrong, I love a savvy travel agent. The best ones will get you a room in a sold-out city and a deal you can only dream of. But having to compare prices by calling agencies one by one is something I do not miss, and just the thought of doing that during the trip makes me uncomfortable. Price compare solutions make everything so simple, we almost forget what it was like before they existed.
These solutions, along with remote booking websites, allow travelers to find the best options and change their mind quickly. Flexibility, information and speed are three very important advantages when traveling, and when combined with the experience and wisdom of expert agents they can make wonders.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea, these cheques are for a fixed amount and demand the signature and presence of the holder to be cashed. If they fall into the wrong hands, your money is still safe. You can still use traveler’s cheques in some areas, but most travelers would rather use credit cards or wire money when needed.
The basic notion is still very true. Travelers should protect their funds and belongings by using secured solutions when making purchases. In the age of online payments and the hacking techniques to follow them, this concept is now being translated to PayPal and other payment solutions that are being used not only by travelers, any day of the year.
Reminiscing is part of the fun in travel, and each of these tools and technologies, even if not missed in its own right, reminds us of a blissful time in our lives. It also reminds us of how lucky we are to be living in this day and age, surrounded by helpful innovations.