While airline flying has deteriorated over the years with respect to comfort, reliability and convenience, technology has helped make things less worse. There’s an array of electronic gadgets and products that we now take for granted, but help offset that and make traveling a bit more pleasant.
- The AirTag and Tile 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 challenge is whether they will believe us.
- Noise-Canceling Headphones are a godsend for travelers, especially when seated near crying babies or a talkative seat mate. Originally invented by Bose and sold for about $400, they are now widely available and cost as little as $50. The noise reduction circuitry has even been miniaturized to fit in earbud size units that can be carried with us everywhere.
- Portable Power Banks solve the problem of being away from an outlet while on a long excursion. Batteries have become more power dense and solid state electronics meters the charging to refill our phone or tablet in under an hour and doing it a few times from the same battery.
- Smart travel apps like Flighty can take the stress out of traveling. Let the app keep track of our flight, our connections, and even the weather at our destination while we do something else.
- 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.
- 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 at our call, we can get much of the same benefit from these services.
- Notebook computers are now 20% of the weight of what we used to carry and 20% of the thickness. And if we want something even lighter there are tablets with keyboards that make an acceptable substitute.
- Multi-function adapters – Remember those huge adapters wih the long heavy cords we’d have to carry to power our notebook computers? That adapter has been replaced by something about 15% of its size that can charge several devices all at once and work throughout the world.
- 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.
- E-tickets is one of my favorite travel improvement. 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 thanks 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?