Technology has completely altered travel. Some parts I think are for the best: signs of effective evolution. Most of my reflections are with iPhones or another smartphone, but all mobile devices have played a part in the alteration. When relying on public transportation knowing the schedule is key. Sometimes I like the option to have flexible and spontaneous plans, and I don’t memorize an entire schedule of options. I was happy there was a Septa App to make life easier and sadly disappointed there wasn’t an Amtrak App. Urban Spoon and other food Apps allow you to be spontaneous with dining decisions. If I am traveling, I do not want to eat at a restaurant chain that I could find near my house; I want to experience something new. Restaurants are waiting to be discovered just a shake or click away. GPS units are almost a necessity when traveling. Who has the patience to be stuck in traffic when there was an accident or construction? Now you can exit the highways at will and be directed to the road less traveled.
For the travelers who need to have a plan ahead of time, there are Apps for that as well. For major cities you can find city guides that allow trips to be planned out on advance. The best I’ve used is for Washington DC (DC Way and DC Going Out Guide). Anything Google can help with the planning: maps, calendar, email, etc. I would probably be considered a coffee snob, but I need to know where the closest coffee shop is before the necessary morning cup – Starbucks provides an App, and the food Apps provide family alternatives (that normally have outstanding baked goods). There is also an App Store for ‘Plan Your Vacation.’ This are the progressive changes I have seen traveling with technology; however, there are some harmful shifts.
On the other hand technology is providing the a new test for survival of the fittest; unfortunately some innocents will be endangered. My observations for human stupidity come from the turnpike. Someone flew by going 80 mph hour swerving all over the road. If it hadn’t been 3 pm I would have assumed that it was a drunk driver. However a few miles up the road the still swerving they dropped to 50 mph (the actual speed limit is 65 mph). At this speed I caught up with her. The problem was not alcohol, but a blackberry and societies need to be connected 24/7. What could she really have to say that could not wait until she arrived. If she is so important that she makes life or death decisions in email form, she should never leave the office. Her horrible driving could have had life or death consequences of it’s own. The lack of courtesy for other people is magnified by technology. On public transportation, there are always people who think it is acceptable to pass the time by having a loud cell phone conversation or playing a game with aggravating sounds. Even when a family is traveling in a car together; they are not talking and bonding – you see teens texting, pre-teens playing videogames on hand-held devices, smaller children watching a movie. Now those might be stereotypes, but that doesn’t make it untrue. It just means that you also can find grown-ups playing games or texting. The ages change, but the actions do not. I guess this means the destruction of the family road trip. There is no point of traveling across the country to appreciate the nation if you don’t notice what is outside the window because you are so focused on what is in your hands.