It is really remarkable how quickly technology has completely changed the face of travel. Our RTW trip lasted nearly two years, 2009-2010. As we embarked, we invested in some of the best technology to get the job done that was possible. We thought of ourselves as flashpackers extraordinaire. That included a brand new netbook, an unlocked cell phone, and a fancy DSLR camera. Now, just a few short years later, when I look back on all of that still functioning gear, it just looks so old and antiquated. That’s the nature of technology.
The Phone – Our mobile phone was nothing but an unlocked GSM flip phone. We were excited when a SIM card we purchased allowed us to make calls home from the Sahara Desert in Sudan for Mother’s day. Now with VOIP calling, a smart phone can make calls around the world for free…and from anywhere. The best part is that there are finally some cutting edge phones (e.g. Galaxy S4 Active) that are water and drop resistant making it even easier to stay connected and travel adventurously.
The Tablet – These did not exist while we were our trip and are a tremendous game changer, at least if you are blogging or sharing pictures while you travel. We shared one netbook as we traveled, weighing and taking up far more room than two tablets would have taken in our packs. Any of these today – iPad, Android or even a Windows tablet – are both lighter and more powerful than our “state of the art” netbook was. Plus there is wifi virtually everywhere now making a tablet a really useful tool for travelers to check in.
The Camera – This area has changed a lot less, mostly these cameras now come with more features and more megapixels than before. However, by and large, they still do the same job. The big add-ons here are the ease by which photos can be geotagged and quickly uploaded. Camera processing has also improved allowing for better low-light photography and much better videos. That would have saved us quite a bit of time geotagging our photos.
This article is NOT about what gear to go out and buy, there are plenty of review sites on the Internet, It is merely a comparison of what has changed in less than 3 years time. In the next three years will Google Glass remove the need for a tour guide? Streaming video and video conferencing might ultimately replace the written word when it comes to blog posts. We might even be able to sterilize our meals on our plates with a UV light and completely make food poisoning a thing of the past! Sounds good to me.