1. The smartphone
Gone are the days of wielding a large fold-out map while trying to navigate busy streets chock-full of pedestrians and cyclists. Not only has the map app made navigation easier, but you can search for what’s around the area, such as restaurants, galleries and theatres, whatever tickles your fancy at the moment. Other travellers like to download travel guides, check live updates on trains and flights and save tickets to their wallet app. Plus, the smartphone is the perfect repository to type a note or take a photo of a street you might want to return to tomorrow.
2. Dating apps
Even if it doesn’t end up in ever after, dating apps have become an easy way to meet people and expand your friend network when in a new town. Your date – and their friends should you meet them – can double as tour guides and photographers, and you might even get invited to a dinner party at someone’s house or have a place to stay at the next time you’re in town. Just remember to exercise caution prior to the initial get-together by meeting in a public place and letting a friend know of your whereabouts.
3. Social media and influencers
Cute patisseries with red-and-white checker chairs, secluded swimming holes in jungles – travel inspiration abounds on social media. We get ideas on attractions to visit and places to eat at thanks to posts by friends and influencers, all of which seem to have replaced the traditional travel brochure. We also keep everyone updated on our travels in real-time with hashtagged posts, live videos and snaps that disappear after 24 hours.
4. Living like a local abroad
The rise of rental apartments and holiday homes has not just made travel cheaper, but better than that, they provide more authentic experiences. Instead of running into other tourists at the hotel breakfast buffet, you can wander around your neighbourhood for a cosy breakfast spot or shop for fruit at the local grocer. Your host – or even people you match with on dating apps – can give helpful suggestions on neighbourhoods to check out.
When we reminisce about our travels, some of us associate certain places with particular songs. Indeed, long waits in airports and even longer car rides warrant for a musical score, perhaps a personal soundtrack to capture the various moods of your journey. Spotify makes this easy – just create a different playlist for each trip or a collaborative playlist that travel companions can contribute to as well.
6. Taxi apps
Taxi and rideshare apps such as Uber, Bolt and Grab have largely removed the stress of haggling or worry about being cheated, though, in some countries, local taxis are reliable, cheap and safe. With taxi apps, however, there’s an extra layer of accountability – both rider and driver can track the ride in real-time from point A to point B. Apps also come with safety features and riders can send an alert should they feel unsafe.
7. Travel blogging
While magazine features capture the mood of the place and the personalities behind the establishments we visit, travel blogs are great for looking up names and addresses and getting quick suggestions while on the go. It’s also a wonderful form of online journaling – it doesn’t matter if a blog has millions of followers or is something the blogger shares with only close friends, it’s a platform for everyone to document their travels.
8. Long-haul low-cost flights
Flying need not cost an entire month’s savings anymore. Budget airlines, introduced to serve regional and short-haul flights, have since expanded to long-haul, making it easier than ever to jet from Stockholm to New York, Berlin to Singapore. While low-cost carriers might lack the perks of regular airlines, travellers opt for them for many reasons, including having more money to spend on the actual destination.
9. Experiential travel
As the boundaries of travel seemingly broaden, the art of travel has concurrently become more niche. People are booking trips for specific reasons, whether to attend a music festival or restaurant week – or simply because they read about a new gin distillery. Guided tours, which once came with negative connotations of the sneaker-and-fanny-pack-wearing variety, are an increasingly popular option with many being interest-focused, such as beer, food or shopping.
10. Sustainable tourism
Speaking of long-haul flights, many travellers are opting against that, or at least choosing to take less long-haul trips to offset their carbon footprint. Train travel is a greener option and removes the hassle of airport formalities – it’s also nice to watch the countryside go by. There’s also the option of staying in eco-friendly hotels that use recycled water or solar power. Even little acts such as buying a souvenir from a local artisan or a dress from a local designer – something which we might have seen on social media – helps small economies.