CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, Jan. 2, 2016 – Many veteran travel writers still long for the days of crossing the Atlantic by ship, when the trip itself was as much a part of the experience as the destination(s).
Today, flying, which was once regarded as a luxurious adventure is, at best, a major hassle. Despite that, over the past quarter century, there have been numerous innovations that have made national and international travel considerably more comfortable and convenient. Here’s a list of the top 10:
1 – GPS Systems – Though not a panacea for all things travel, GPS has saved countless marriages. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, GPS has virtually eliminated the necessity of reading maps. A good GPS system greatly minimizes those last-second “Turn here, turn here, no, no go back” moments that previously led to detours through unfamiliar territory. While headache remedies may have taken a financial hit, the benefits of GPS are immeasurable.
2 – Tour Group Headsets – Today you can stray from traveling partners and still hear the commentary of your tour guide. The guide wears a microphone while group members don headsets that allow them to walk away from the crowd and still hear the information. A side benefit is that it is infinitely easier to keep the group together as a cohesive unit.
3 – High Speed European Train Service – Go from city-center to city-center faster by rail than by air on trips of three-and-a-half hours or less by using trains that travel just under 200 mph in many European countries.
High-speed trains allow travelers to base themselves in one location and do day-trips without the hassle of changing hotels.
Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel has transformed traveling between London and Paris into a three-hour excursion. While a whirlwind tour of either city is less than ideal, people can sample either city when time does not allow in-depth exploration
4 – Internet/Wi-Fi – Take any and all versions of “pads” and “pods” or other form of internet connection and you’ll find that staying in touch with home or tracking friends within your destination(s) is now little more than a touch away. One particular advantage of internet access is the increased ability for individual travel. Groups can split up to explore personal interests and easily reunite through the miracle of instant communication. In addition, Skype has even made it possible to see your friends and loved ones as they are traveling.
5 – Euro – Though the currency may be having its problems, it has certainly made traveling between multiple European nations a lot easier.
The euro has not only simplified the process of currency conversion for travelers. It has also minimized the cumbersome task of figuring conversion rates in individual countries.
6 – ATMs – ATMs allow travelers to access money any time including weekends, holidays and after hours. It may not sound like a big deal, but the convenience of having ATMs almost always located in close proximity to key destinations generally transforms the fear of running low on funds into a minor hassle at best. Better yet, it’s a huge time saver.
7 – Swiss Travel Pass – Rail passes have been around for years and have always been a great travel bargain. However, the Swiss Travel Pass offers the use of local transportation, postal buses, boats, funiculars and cable cars as well as trains. Unfortunately, travelers often fail to consider the bonuses, such as significant discounts for mountaintop excursions and other private transportation services. In addition, a Swiss Travel Pass offers free admission to over 400 museums throughout the country.
8 – Cell Phones – Rushing to pay phones to announce late departures or arrivals to friends and family members is now a thing of the past. Many airports even have cell phone parking lots where people can park while they wait for a call from a plane that is in the process of landing.
Cell phone parking areas not only reduce congestion at the terminal, they also save time and gas by eliminating the need to circle the airport while you wait.
9 – Personal In-Flight Entertainment Systems – Select a variety of movies, TV shows and games or even track your location during a flight. For movie purists who don’t like having their entertainment edited or censored for family viewing, personal monitors make it possible to watch uncut versions of their favorite programs or movies.
10 – Eurail Saverpass – Many European rail passes now offer Saverpasses, which provide substantial discounts for two or more people traveling together. Saverpass products are great for small groups or families. In essence, a Eurail Saverpass regards as few as two people a “group” and provides significant discounts for traveling by rail throughout Europe. Like the Swiss Travel Pass, there are excellent bonus options for ferries, ground transportation and other services that can result in additional savings.
So next time you’re stuck in line at the airport, taking off your shoes and your belt and being inconvenienced, just remember that traveling has become considerably easier over the years, and it’s only getting better.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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