Sunday, March 22, 2015

Traveling with the media

Over spring break, I travelled to London and Scotland -- by myself. Traveling alone would've been  terrifying, had I actually felt alone. My iPhone was my travel companion, which was capable of connecting me with continents of people. Ten years ago, my spring break trip would've been a lot scarier. Without a smartphone and access to the internet, social media, and helpful apps like "CityMapper," traveling alone in foreign countries would've meant more asking strangers for directions and wandering around lost.  

Our access to media and or our ease of communication, has made international travel so much better, and less anxiety inducing. Navigating the spaghetti noodles of London streets would've been impossible, had my phone not been there to save me. It was truly my right hand man. 

Media also enhanced my tourist experience. 

Apps like "Trip Advisor" helped me decide which museums were worth seeing, and what I'd be better off just skipping over. This crowd sourcing of content was infinitely helpful. In the same way, Wikipedia also enhanced my experience. Before, we relied on information from signs and the knowledge of tour guides for the history of foreign places. But not anymore. I could search "Trafalgar Square" -- using the free internet on Trafalgar Square -- to learn about the square. 

Once, after using "City Mapper" to tell me which bus I needed to ride, I accidentally picked the wrong one. The bus I picked terminated at a station in London quite far away from my intended destination. It was rush hour in one of the biggest cities on earth. No worries -- GPS knows where I am, and helped me find another route. Although I was technically lost, I never felt lost. 

Mass media has certainly enhanced the travel experience, and although I haven't traveled by myself before the era of smartphones, I'l pick Google Maps over its paper predecessor any day. 

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