-Chinmoyee Deka |
Traveling is no more just the movement of people between locations. Earlier, traveling for pleasure was for the rich and powerful like traders, moneylenders, and administrators. Ordinary people mostly traveled because of war, floods, famine, or other catastrophes.
Now, traveling is much less a need and more of leisure activity. It allows people to develop new skills, discover new cultures, and connect to themselves and the community. Today, people are motivated to travel based on blogs, vlogs, and other social media experiences. New media has a significant influence in making traveling the industry it is today. People embark on journeys they never intended to and experience the unimaginable.
This technological advancement is a pure result of globalization and neoliberalism. The existence of a free and laissez-faire economy has made technology available to everyone. Before social media, there was a certain lag in the level of technology between the East and West. But with the coming of social media, this lag has significantly decreased. Globalization has allowed people to travel between nations freely.
Earlier European and North American countries were mostly regarded as dreamy holiday destinations, but with the unlimited sharing of travel experiences on global platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., the unexplored East is now becoming popular. Many travelers prefer the East more as it is mostly untouched and cheaper.
This has changed the orientalism perspective that was very dominant among the people of the West. They are now starting to explore Asia and the Middle East. They are often surprised by their preconceived notions about the region. Nowadays, we see Europeans and Americans making videos on India, China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, etc. They reveal how wrong they had been about the region and how traveling and living there has opened their minds to a whole new world. Many come with the intention to explore but stay back as they become attached to the region’s cultural richness and hospitality. .
Some of the most significant technological changes that have affected the way we travel are:
- Technology has made traveling environmentally friendly and less time-consuming.
The days when we needed to print the airline ticket, boarding pass, or hotel reservation are long gone. Thanks to online reservations, mobile check-ins, and e-tickets, we can now board a plane with a photo of the ticket. Online hotel reservations and bookings save time as well.
- Technology has changed our packing routines and saved us a lot of space.
We do not need an iPod to listen to music and a phone to make a call, and a laptop to make a presentation, all we need is one smartphone, and we are set. The same goes for books; instead of making our luggage heavy, we can listen to audiobooks while traveling.
- Technology has helped surpass language barriers.
No interpreters or dictionaries, or phrasebooks are required. Today, all we need is a smartphone app like Google Translate or iTranslate, and we have the translations at our fingertips. Translate apps now let us use our phone camera to translate signs and menus in real-time. Then, there are apps like Duolingo, which helps us learn a new language free of cost.
- Technology has changed the way we book a flight or room, access hotel services, etc.
Many hotels and flight companies offer messaging options to their customers. This new revolution is chatbots. They allow a customer to interact with either a human or artificial intelligence via a chat interface to get their queries answered and options verified.
- Electronic Payments have made traveling safer and more comfortable.
Online wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay have eased electronic payments considerably. No need to carry cash, credit cards, or even stand in queues outside ATMs. Lower risk is another advantage as loss of money often causes inconvenience in a foreign country. Once fully integrated, we do not have to worry about fraudulent cases or changing cards.
- Technology has allowed us to have a more personalized and unique experience.
Chatbots, blogs, vlogs, niche websites, apps, and services have allowed the creation of a space where travelers can pen down their version of a “dream trip.”
Here are a few tips to enjoy a stress-free traveling experience:
Travel modestly, withdrawn, and with a genuine desire to know more about the people of the country we are visiting.
- Sympathize with other people’s feelings so that our behavior will not hurt anyone. It mostly applies while taking photographs.
- Try listening and observing instead of hearing and seeing.
- Never compare the way of thinking of the people in the country we visit with our own.
- Instead of immediately looking for “Paradise Beaches,” we should try exploring smaller nooks and corners.
- Learn about local customs and festivals.
- Try to ask questions.
- Never expect any special privileges.
- Do not promise anything to your hosts that you cannot fulfill.
- Think about your daily experiences and try to live in the present
People are traveling more than ever. A report by the World Tourism Organization states that by 2030, 8.5 billion people will undertake approximately 2 billion international trips. To keep up, the travel industry needs to continuously adapt and enhance itself, from technology to sustainability. COVID did affect the industry this year, but a rising interest in domestic travels is already mending this small dent.