Driving through Sarlat in France the other day, it occurred to me just how much technology has changed holidays.
First and foremost, satellite navigation has changed things dramatically. Part of my preparation for holidays used to be the frantic gathering of maps and then plotting out routes. Of course if I was going to some new area, this would mean ordering maps for the destination area too. I would spend hours plotting out the best route to take, frantically jotting down notes to keep by me as I drove.
All that is done away with now. The first time I took out the maps was the day before we left. I took no notes and although I brought all my maps with me, I haven’t used them. I have no need, as if I want to go to a particular spot, I just program the SatNav, and off I go. Of course there are side benefits too. If I am running low on petrol, all I need do is ask the SatNav and it will happily list all the nearest petrol stations and how to get to them. That has been a life saver on more than one occasion and, what’s more, that is something even the best maps can’t do.
The mobile phone has also changed things. Up to a decade or so ago, if I went on holiday, I was incommunicado for the duration. No one could contact me, and if I wanted to contact anyone, it meant finding a phone box and making a trunk call. Now I can instantly text anyone from anywhere. Apart from that, it makes exploring a town a little easier. The two of us can separate and go our different ways, and then meet up again after a quick phone call.
The Internet has had a big impact this holiday. The place where we are staying has high speed wireless access and this has been a tremendous boon. I have used Google Earth to find the best car parks in a strange town and even found the best areas within that town to visit. I have used it to find out the opening times of the various shops around. I have used it as a gazetteer to find out a little more about the places we intend visiting. Naturally I can use it to keep track of the bank accounts and how the spending is going. I can even use it to top up my mobile phone.
There is one thing that technology has not replaced though.
I still send postcards!