Having been lucky enough to enjoy a long weekend in Palma recently – a friend’s big birthday, incidentally, for which celebrations seem to be lasting the entire year! 😉 – I came to realise how much technology has eased the world of travel.
Of course, booking flights online has always been fairly easy, with the availability of comparison sites ensuring you get the best deal. In our case, having done our research and remembered to regularly clear our cookies, we ended up flying out with one low-cost airline and flying in with another, choosing the prices and times that suited us best in order to maximise our Spanish celebratory time.
There are now so many great ways to book accommodation too. We used one of the most well-known sites to find a centrally-located privately owned apartment with garden. This site, very cleverly, now allows you to split the cost of the accommodation so that individuals are reminded to pay their share via email from the site – especially handy for a large group so no one ends up having to pay the full amount in advance and then chasing the others.
Amazingly, we did manage to squeeze our many pairs of shoes and changes of outfit into hand luggage only. But, for those who struggle with packing, there are now several apps to ensure you don’t forget anything – just tell the app where you’re going, how long for and who with and it’ll spit out a suggested list of what you might need, split into essentials, clothes, gadgets and more, with separate lists for additional family members.
Getting to the airport was also made surprisingly easy with the arrival of electronic train tickets. I was dubious at first when told that I did not need to print anything out, just show the e-ticket on my mobile – but it worked like a dream and we were allowed through the barriers with no trouble at all – you just need to remember to fully charge your mobile first!
Check-in, of course, has come a long way too. Gone are the days of waiting for your particular check-in time, only to stand in line, to wait again to be given your boarding pass to find out whether you’ve been placed with your family and friends, or miles apart..! That was an awful lot of waiting..even before you got to security and passport control. Now, you’re able to check-in days in advance, often being able to select your seat, pop your passport details in and be given an electronic image of your boarding pass, eradicating the need for printing – and potentially losing – those valuable documents. With the option of simply dropping your bags off or taking hand luggage only, you are instead given valuable time to browse the shops, pick up a new bottle of perfume and select a suitable pair of sunglasses.
Technology came in handy, once again, when we could keep in close contact with friends joining us from Manchester, with the ability to track their flight, only to be told that they were delayed by 2 hours and then, when finally dropped off in a taxi, delivered to the wrong apartment! Luckily, the option of online mapping, allowed them to find us fairly easily even in the middle of the night in a strange city.
The next day, various apps were put to good use again, suggesting places to eat, drink and sightsee, whilst another was able to translate our every wish, meaning the language was less of a barrier and fluency was somewhat within our grasp – ‘Hola! Un cerveza, por favor!’
Funnily enough, technology was not necessarily our friend when, back at the airport after a fabulously fun weekend, sampling tapas, sangria, the sun, sea & sand of Majorca, we were delayed by 2 hours. I would have at least expected an announcement over the loud speaker but instead we had to actually chat to someone to find out about the delay as a message had apparently come through online – one that we had totally missed – and that we were supposed to be sitting at gate A12 instead of A14. Phew…we did eventually make it home…just watch out for that one – & keep an eye on the departure boards! – when you’re next enjoying travel made easier with technology.