There was a time, not so long ago, when travelling to a foreign land was an adventure that began even before embarking on the journey. Arranging the travel tickets, hotel room bookings, getting a tourist visa, arranging for traveller’s cheques, etc- these were the inescapable formalities. Apart from those formalities came the research work, which required reading up travel brochures or tourist guidebooks on good hotels, places to see and dos and don’ts in the other country. After going through all those troubles, you could only hope that there would be no unpleasant surprises.
Thanks to technological innovations over the last two decades, most of that information is available on your fingertips- literally, in the present era of smartphones. Almost all the research and travel related formalities can be completed in the comfort of the drawing room. Without exaggeration, technology has impacted every single aspect of the experience.
For instance, a travel enthusiast who intends to experience the Tulip season in The Netherlands is likely to start with a Google search, followed by a Wikipedia check on Keukenhof Gardens. Having finalised the Keukenhof Gardens as the primary destination, the next search is most likely to be on places to see in The Netherlands.
Having shortlisted the places to see, the traveller can proceed to identify places to stay during the trip using Booking or Trivago or some other website (or the corresponding smartphone app). For the benefit of those planning to travel on a smaller budget, Airbnb offers less expensive options. Thanks to user reviews and photographs, it is possible to get visual evidence of what lies ahead. Those who are still not satisfied may use a social media app like Facebook or Twitter to get updates from recent visitors.
Hotel bookings done, the next step would be the flight bookings. The traveller may now login to Makemytrip or Yatra or a similar online portal and identify the flights available on the dates of his or her proposed trip that fall within the planned budget.
Then comes the one aspect that cannot be done online: the travel permit. The most daunting part is the documentation required for the visa and those visa interviews. Thankfully, there are online service providers who can make the process much easier. Want information on Schengen visa documents required? Unsure about the travel insurance requirements? The necessary information, at least, can be accessed on a smartphone.
Assuming the visa application is successful, the traveller can plan the packing by checking out the expected weather conditions during the travel dates on Accuweather to decide whether the woollens will be required.
Once there, the traveller need not worry about finding the way around the place, thanks to apps like Google Maps. Technology comes into play even after the trip is over, since most travellers these days share the experiences on social media platforms or travel portals!
None of this was even remotely possible just twenty years ago. Given the speed at which technology is transforming, this could just be the beginning.
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