Thank technology for making travel a bit better

While airline service has deteriorated over the years with tighter seats, new fees, lost bags, higher prices, and unexpected cancelations, technology has helped make traveling a bit better or at least a little less bad. There’s an array of electronic gadgets and products that we now take for granted, but help offset the pains of traveling.

  1. The AirTag and Tile tags are amazing little devices that tell us where our luggage is. So while the airlines may lose our bag, we can now tell them where to find it. The only issue is whether they will believe us.
  2. Noise-Canceling Headphones are a godsend for travelers, especially when seated near a crying baby or a talkative seat mate. Invented and sold by Bose for about $400, they’re now widely available and cost as little as $50. The noise reduction circuitry has even been miniaturized to fit in earbud size units such as AirPods that we can carry with us everywhere.
  3. Portable Power Banks solve the problem of being away from an outlet while on a long excursion. Batteries have become more capable and solid state electronics can meter the charging to refill our phone or tablet in under an hour, even doing so a few times from the same battery.
  4. Smart travel apps like Flighty can take the stress out of traveling. Let the app keep track of our flights, connections, and gates, and even the weather at our destination, letting us focus on other things.
  5. The smart phone is the ultimate Swiss army knife of travel products. It combines a camera, a music player, a GPS and, oh yes, a phone, all devices we used to carry separately.
  6. Ride services Uber, Lyft, and their counterparts around the world, put a “limo” at our disposal. While we can’t enjoy our own car and driver on call, we can get much of the same benefit from these services.
  7. Notebook computers are now a fraction of the weight of what we used to carry and a quarter of the thickness. And if we want something even lighter, there are tablets with keyboards that make an acceptable substitute.
  8. Multi-function adapters – Remember those huge adapters wih the long heavy cords we’d have to carry to power our notebook computers? Those humungous adapters have been replaced by something about a tenth the size that can charge several devices at once and work throughout the world.
  9. E-Readers – We used to take along a book or two and a stack of magazines on our trip. Now we can take an eBook reader that replaces all of our reading material in a package under a pound.
  10. E-tickets are one of my favorite travel improvements. Remember how we’d go to the hotel lobby and find a computer to print out a boarding pass? Now it comes directly to our phone and is stored in an electronic wallet.

We do have all this technology to thank for making our life on the road a little more convenient. There’s just one thing I don’t understand: Why am I carrying the same bags and luggage that I did 20 years ago, still filled with stuff that’s just as heavy?

by Phil Baker