Today’s Travel Technology Trends

I’m always a little envious of the backpacker who can travel light and leave the travel technology world of mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, kindles and god knows what else behind them. But let’s be honest: most of us can’t and/or don’t want to.

We live in an increasingly technology orientated world and whilst for the most part the items that fulfil our electronic escapism are getting smaller, we seem to be making up for this by carrying more and more of them! Indeed we now seem to possess more gadgets than you would have conceived imaginable 10 years ago – each with their own specific purpose that we seemingly cannot do without.

Personally I live to embrace technology and believe it has a very positive influence on travelling. I just read a great article by fellow world warrior Grrl Traveller querying whether travel bloggers and social media would eventually kill guidebooks forever? In my eyes the answer to this is undoubtedly yes and the recent news of Lonely Planet (my guide book publisher of choice) being sold off by BBC WorldWide at a loss of £80m I believe tells us everything we need to know about where the industry is headed.

The fact of the matter is that you will never unearth more relevant and up-to-date information on a prospective destination than that you can find on the World Wide Web. Written guidebooks are an inferior tool nowadays and I have lost count of the number of times I have purchased one in any case before a big trip only to find myself completely ignoring it in favour of constantly updated resource sites such as TripAdvisor.

Everyday social media sites serve a purpose in planning your trips and I often wonder how on earth it would be possible to stay connected with the huge array of knowledgeable international friends I have accumulated without the likes of Facebook. It is for this reason alone I always inform the ‘quitters’ of such social media tools that they’ll be back. The connections are quite simply invaluable.

Staying connected from a city bench
Staying connected from a city bench

Bolting on nicely to our care to share is the emerging trend amongst travellers to favour big DSLRs or large lens hybrid solutions as opposed to compact cameras these days. The logic is sound in that these moments of exploration will for most of us be cherished till the end of our days, circled between friends and therefore worthy of the attention to detail. On the flip side, the craze of applying dated looking filters to smartphone pictures for the likes of Instagram continue to prove popular and some folk are content cataloguing their adventures in this simple, time effective manner.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on when it comes to your uses of technology, the likelihood is that you carry around substantial values of expensive gear with you once you escape your home roost, and would be foolish to not avidly inspect your device and travel insurance policies prior to embarking on any such trip to check that you are adequately covered.

If you are travelling over an extended period then you can encounter all kinds of insurance headaches and this is a situation I have encountered personally in having positioned myself out in Thailand for an indefinite period of time. In circumstances such as this the waters begin to muddy and most insurance policies become invalid without proof of a return flight. For me, risking my adored MacBook Pro and Canon 7D amongst other accessories was never an option and I found myself turning to specific expat insurance.

It’s rare that I give a shout out to a specific business by name but I feel it appropriate to use this post to mention Jelf Insurance whose assistance and service were second to none in helping me solve the problem of finding an appropriate insurer for my circumstances. In fact they also offer competitive rates for all kinds of insurance and have been kind enough to offer £15 worth of high street vouchers to any of my readers making a purchase via email or telephone quoting “thatluckyboy.com”. Should you be EU based and tired of banging your head against the wall hunting for an expat possessions insurance solution then I without hesitation recommend you give them a try.

If a permanent existence within new frontiers is not quite on the agenda yet and a short term jolly is more your bag then keep in mind that most insurers have valuable article limits that would not cover the cost of laptops and mobile phones. In fact it is the case that most insurers exclude such items from the off. This naturally does not always go down too well with the small minority of travellers whom accidentally damage their gear or fall victim to theft without having read the small print. It can be a costly mistake.

There’s most certainly a time and a place for travel technology. An iPhone can be a great navigation tool but doesn’t make for good company at the dinner table. Likewise there’s a lot that can be said about embracing your surroundings as opposed to spending your away from home adventure behind a viewfinder.

Undoubtedly though, embracing technology on the road without being absorbed too much by it, can only be an aid to your adventure so long as the implications of improbable loss or disaster do not have you forever worrying.

Are you a nomad with lots of shiny, electronic things? How do you manage looking after them?

Photo Credits: flickr/silvu, flickr/nicwm

Comments

A Cook Not Mad (Nat)
Reply

Good, informative read, I never really thought of insuring my gadgets but it seems like a smart thing to do. I’ll look into it for our next trip. Thanks!

Christine | GRRRLTRAVELER
Reply

Nice post, Chris! I feel that same envy. As much as I try to downsize my luggage on clothes, my day pack often feels like I’m carrying a boulder! People are usually shocked when they pick it up to help me. I think it weighs more than my luggage.

But these days, as tech saavy folk (and bloggers who like toting media & laptops with us) it’s so hard to unhook. When I was in Burma, the fact I didn’t have wifi and couldn’t post things drove me insane. Still enjoyed the trip tho. For the most part, I am uninsured though. Which isn’t smart. My life is in that backpack such as I guess my unconscious thought is.. if it goes down, I’d like to go with it. ha ha…

Franca
Reply

I agree with you Chris, there is some technology that I simply cannot leave behind while traveling. I cannot imagine not having a camera with me or my laptop that I use also to communicate with friends and family. I can do without mobile phone though, I never use it! :)

Pasture Braised
Reply

Hey Chris.

Just stumbled upon your site. This is a great article covering a very current topic. We’ve been on the road for the last 5 months and have been blown away by all the travel technology we’ve seen. Walking into a Hostel now can sometimes feel like walking into a Best Buy or Apple Store w/ all the different devices out and about. It’s a trip, but I also think it is a constant reminder of how connected and small the world has become. I’m just glad I’m traveling now while there are still some remote places that are “disconnected”.

We recently did a post on the travel gear that we travel with. Check it out: http://pasturebraised.com/planning/travel-tech-top-6/

While we’ve traveled in the past without all the gadgets and gizmos, its incredible to have them now and experience the difference.

Thanks for sharing, keep well, we’ll be following.

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