There used to be a time when you’d land in a foreign airport disoriented, jet lagged, unable to speak the language, where your precious greenbacks were pretty well useless, and the only way to let loved ones back home know you made it (at least without incurring a second mortgage to make a–gasp!–international call) was to mail a postcard that would arrive precisely two weeks after your return home.
Travel sure has gotten easier. We noticed this recently when we landed in Bangkok–dude, that’s in THAILAND, an oriental city where the city don’t know that the city is getting the creme de la creme of the chess…oh, never mind, we were in BANGKOK (insert sophomoric boy-pun here). We were disoriented, jet lagged, unable to speak the language, our precious greenbacks (if we had any) were useless, but we were able to text our kids and tell them we made it. See how much easier travel is?
It actually occurred to us on the Uber ride from the airport to our hotel. You see, over-50 readers, there’s this technology called Uber wherein we can basically summon a private car to come get us and take us somewhere, like from the airport to our hotel. Or from the bar home after a wee bit too much rum. It’s like having a hotline to your college frat brothers in your phone (roo-rah-rega!) And for you under-30 readers, realize there was once a time, before there was Uber, when you had to drive home drunk at a very careful, yet inconspicuous, 12 miles per hour. Or you had to have what was called a “designated driver”.
Anyway, we reminisced from the backseat of our Uber ride on the way to downtown BANG-freakin-KOK about our first overseas trip and what an ordeal it was to get to our hotel. It was in Amsterdam, and had there been a divorce lawyer standing in front of the Van Gogh museum, I think our marriage would’ve been over right then and there. I’ll only say it wasn’t pretty (I’ve purged the rest from my memory banks).
Money while traveling has also become a non-issue. When taking those first European vacations we called our bank and got a bit of each currency we needed–kroners, francs, schnitzels, and lymphnodes–before we left. But soon after that, ATM’s appeared EVERYWHERE. I read recently that, on average, there are 100 ATMs for every square kilometer of habitable land on the planet. Actually, I just made that up, but it sounds about right. Though I keep wondering when airlines will add ATM functionality to the seat-back entertainment systems.
What 4 MILLION PLUS Indonesian Rupiah In Your Wallet Looks Like
Just finding a hotel used to be a challenge. The process started with a trip to the Barnes-n-Noble where we’d buy a Frommer’s or Rick Steves or similarly reputable travel guide (stay away from guidebooks with titles like Lost Souls and Dirt Cheap Djibouti). Then, after carefully reading what the travel gurus think about the hotels where we wanted to go and very, very carefully narrowing down our “top picks” to the 3 cheapest hotels listed, we’d incur THOUSANDS of dollars in international calls trying to make a reservation. It would often go like this:
Hotel: (rings 647 times) Bon jour?
Me: (Cheerily) Hello! (Even more cheerily) Bon jour! Do you speak English?
Hotel: Mmmm, no.
Me: (Contemplative pause) Uh, I’d like to make a reservation?
Hotel: (Contemplative pause, followed by something in French, then) Sorry?
Me: (With college French textbook in hand) Je voudrais acheter une reservation (literally, “I would like to buy a reservation.”)
Hotel: (Contemplative pause) <click>
I would then repeat the process until I found a hotel with an English speaking reservationist. THIS was the secret to our travel expertise, my friends. Today, of course, I simply open the Google “Mind Booking” app, hold my iPhone against my head, and a few seconds later I get a confirmation text from a cheap, beautiful, comfortable, and ideally situated hotel in the destination of our dreams that showers us with rewards points and provides an Alaskan King Crab buffet (the epitome of the perfect hotel experience). Prepaid, non-refundable, of course.
Should the modern hotel research and booking process not yield suitable fruit, people literally let us stay in their homes. Seriously. I mean, we have to pay sometimes, but other times it’s free (I’m not joking). The former is called AirBnB, and the latter is called house sitting, and if you’ve not heard of them, well, then you’ve not really been following our blog, have you?
Communicating with family and friends is probably the easiest part of travel nowadays. We have Trekkie-esque communicators in our pockets that plug neatly into wifi’s and interwebs and coconut telegraphs everywhere we go, allowing us to Skype and FaceTime and SnapChat and WhatsApp ourselves silly. My T-Mobile plan gives me free GLOBAL texts. I can be anywhere in the world (like BANG-freakin-KOK) and shoot off a free text to my kids. I can send a free text to anyone in the world, even Australian aborigines and African bushmen. Which reminds me, if you are either an aborigine or a bushman and are reading this blog, please get in touch with me as soon as possible as I would like to confirm that my T-Mobile plan does indeed let me text you for free.
The epitome of modern, easy travel is, naturally, air travel. The only way it could get any easier would be for them to pick us up at our front door. I think Amazon is looking into this with drones and Zeppelins. That only means flying could improve by getting cheaper, though even airfare cheapness might have reached its zenith. Listen to this: just yesterday we booked a flight from Manchester, England to Orlando, Florida for just over $200. We will CROSS THE ATLANTIC for just over $200. Granted taxes and fees push it over $300, BUT STILL. This, by the way, is a “full service” airline on an airplane that doesn’t require any flapping on our part (we hope). How could flying get any easier?
I have an idea, and I will share it here on my blog for the betterment of mankind. Airlines could PAY US to travel. I’m not asking for any handouts here, I’m saying I’d be happy to do a little work while I’m sitting there on an 8-hour flight. Lori can sew and I’m handy with glue and Dremel motors and hatchets and so forth, so how about putting us to work making sneakers? The airline could be called Labor Air, and the slogan could be “Fly The Sweatshop Skies!” A secondary business incentive is the additional savings in product shipping costs: we land in New York City, offload 300 pairs of brand new Reeboks for Manhattan joggers, and Labor Air pays each of us $10 as we step off the plane and into the Big Apple. No need to thank me, my altruism is reward enough.
Yet not all has been easy in our world of travel. In fact, in just the last few weeks, I’ve lost my debit card, sprained a toe in the swimming pool, broke my glasses, scraped up the back of my leg (enough to leave a scar worthy of some highly exaggerated travel stories one day), endured a sunburned bottom lip (while apparently my top lip was safely in the shade), gouged the bottom of the same foot with the sprained toe, and then left my beloved iPad on the plane upon arrival in Koh Samui, Thailand. All this while Lori has happily skipped from temple to temple and slurped fried noodles.
But weep not for me: what I snuggle in bed with each and every night, my gold iPad Pro with 256GB of glorious flash memory, has been returned to me. After a few easy international calls to Thai Airways, I tracked it down, and after an Uber ride to and from the airport, I am now able to lay in bed again, basking in Apple Retina Display© glow, and dream of more travel.
Could it get any easier than this?
Take it quick!
I think there’s something in the water.
Definitely something in the water…
She’s outta there!