by Lauren Rooney
Travel plans can now be made with a few swipes across your touchscreen as everything you need is in the palm of your hand
With a couple of finger-tip-taps on a small selection of apps on your phone, your flight to Bali is booked. The beach hut with a sea view is confirmed. An offline map is loaded to navigate the way to the Sacred Monkey forest. The insurance app is all set, just in case said monkey steals your camera.
The sheer number of travel apps is forever growing, in turn making the world increasingly accessible and convenient. But are there any disadvantages to a globe that is entirely mapped and documented?
First, let’s take a trip.
Long gone are the days of trawling through different flight providers, switching between browser tabs to compare prices, or, remember this? Asking a travel agent. There are now apps to do it all for you. A favourite amongst globetrotters, about 60 million a month to be exact, is the Skyscanner app. All of that rummaging through flight providers is now done in a matter of seconds. This has led to some new problems however, with the risk of making a scam booking more likely than ever.
Ping! Flights booked, now where to sleep?
Each traveller has their own preference. Whether it be a swanky hotel or hippy hostel, comfy couch or an awesome apartment, even a whole fancy-pants mansion. With the likes of Booking.com, Hostelworld and AirBnB all now squeezed into easy apps, you can book whatever you like on the move; even if it’s for the next day.
The increasingly popular couch-surfing option enables you to stay with locals willing to open up their homes to travellers. And yes, there’s an app for it. Curious wanderers are increasingly using couch-surfing to experience the local culture; dropping themselves straight into the world of the natives. It is vital however, you are aware of your safety when staying in a stranger’s home: check their reviews and let someone know where you’ll be.
Avid traveller Alex Perez-Davis now dotes on the couch-surfing travel-style, “It appealed to me because it’s a great way to meet locals, it gives you a different experience of the place you’re staying. It’s free and it helps you make new friends. The locals can also give you good tips about the city you’re staying in”
Now, what is there to do around here?
Well, the old traveller’s Bible, the Lonely Planet Guide, can now be found on the Kindle app. TripAdvisor’s app also provides a variety of options including restaurants, tours and local landmarks. Then there’s SideKix.
Travel blogger Lousan Sunadroon says, “I reckon it is called Sidekix because, when travelling in a city, it can become one’s best friend”. The app is filled with curated suggestions from in-the-know locals. SideKix will offer up various options based on your interests.
All those tips are great, but you need to be able to find the damn things. Anyone got a map?
Well, even if you’re offline, apps like Gaia GPS are available. Gaia integrates the best topographic maps with offline navigation tools and route-planning features. Rhys Cardoc-James, a keen globetrotter, has travelled over 30 countries by bicycle, through the remote areas of Iran and India, all using these offline maps to help find his way.
Having all of this tucked away in your phone makes you feel like a travel wizard. With all these apps and more, travelling is becoming easier than ever.
But, for some, this new technology has eradicated the mystery and romance of travel. Exploring is a confused concept, when you can’t get lost. Meeting new people is bizarre, when their entire history is available through a series of photos on your phone. Just like Tinder and Facebook, travel technology has undoubtedly revolutionised the way we interact with each other, and the world.