7 years ago when I was traveling through Europe, I remember showing up to a random town in Italy, stepping off the train and thinking, “Well, time to go knock on some doors and see if I can find a place to sleep.”
These days, I book my airbnb as soon as I’m done buying a plane ticket to a new country. When I arrived in Bali, my airbnb host arranged a taxi pickup at the Denpasar airport. Now that I’m here, I call an Uber whenever I need a ride. I use the “go-jek” app on my iPhone to order delivery from any restaurant in town. I have three different mobile banking apps that allow me to constantly check on my funds, set travel notices, and transfer money between accounts. I know the currency rate before I go, and thanks to Facebook groups, I already know exactly how and where to exchange cash. The world has never been smaller or better connected.
World Travelers used to have to be super savvy. World Travelers used to wear fanny packs and Crocodile Dundee hats, and they had to keep all of their cash squirreled away in secret money belts.
A smart phone is all you need now. Somebody has already written a blog, posted a video, and documented the exact kind of trip that you want to take.
The way I see it, the internet has taken the initial shock out of travel. Showing up, finding a place to stay, getting local currency – these are the principal pains-in-the-ass that the internet has improved for all of us.
But the magical gems are still out there, buried in the desert. Because once you plop down in a new part of the world, then you start to meet people. And those people plug you into the culture – which is what you still can’t get online – the local markets, the smells, the sun, the smiles. Now the gate opens and the journey jumps off.