I recently went on a vacation with my daughter to Greece. Vacation travel is very different from digital nomad travel. And, modern travel is different from the vacation the trips I took with my parents in the station wagon. Technology has changed travel at every touch point.
We book the hotel tickets online, we research places to go online, we book hotels online. A mobile app tells us that our flight’s delayed, usually after we’ve arrived at the airport. Some of us use our phones to call an [it shall not be named] or a Lyft. And, we download a map of the city for offline access. Our iPhones provide music on the plane and the better airlines understand the need to plug in our devices during the flight.
It Starts With Airfare
This trip to Greece was filled with all the modern miracles. We used everything we’d learned from The Travel Hack Academy book the best deals possible from our opposite directions, me from Prague and she from Singapore. One of the tools we used, CheapFlights, is the place to go for last-minute Thanksgiving flights. Even though that is not a holiday here in the Czech Republic, I’m taking the week off because I know my colleagues in the U.S. will likely do the same and it will be quiet on the email front.
Technology helped all of this happen
Flights arranged we set about filling in the gaps in our trip. We created a shared spreadsheet to track ideas and costs. We split the tasks between Santorini, her job, and Athens, as my job. She found lodging in Santorini and book flights to and from the island. I pitched a few ideas for our five days in Athens. I was flying into Athens a day ahead, so we could catch a flight the next day to Santorini. She found the perfect overnight lodgings, with free airport transfers and a five-minute walk to the beach.
We even had non-digital technology supporting our trip. My trusty SCOTTeVEST had us sailing through airport counters and security lines with both of our passports tucked safely in my vest pocket. No digging through overstuffed tote bags or purses for our boarding pass and passports. We were always ready and always felt secure that we would have our passports at the end of the trip.
Life was made easier, finding affordable options were made easier thanks to the magic of the internet and mobile applications.
Our Technology Travel Partners
The major players on our trip were TMobile Global, Google Maps, Evernote and TripAdvisor. When my daughter arrived at the airport she was immediately frustrated by her inability to buy a SIM card. My handy TMobile Global gave us immediate access to information, even without the airport wifi, from the comfort of the Sky Express VIP lounge that came with our off-season airline tickets.
If you want to be better SIM card prepared TMobile has an option.
TMobile Global was there for us when we struggled to find the restaurant recommended by the hotel in Santorini and used Google Maps. Our choice was validated when we scanned my Evernote for picks in Santorini. There it was tucked into my notes.
As we sipped our delicious house wine and waited for our appetizers, a scan of TripAdvisor showed a high rating, quickly confirmed by the dishes set before us. The flavors were infused with Greek love, olive oil and the abundance of the sea.
When we were exhausted and in desperate need of a bathroom in hour 2.5 of our 3-hour hike from the town of Olia to Fira, we used TripAdvisor to make sure we weren’t going to toss our Euros away on the only open restaurant we’d found. According to TripAdvisor, we would be in great hands at a great restaurant called Avocado in the tiny town of Imerovigli and we did. The meal was divine, perhaps the best moussaka on the trip, although I was standing firm with the Nicolas version.
The next day, when we had rented an ATV to cover the other end of the island, we used TripAdvisor to find a great spot exactly where our hunger hit. Metaxy Mas in Pyrgos was a miracle location with a view overlooking the ocean, filled with locals who knew this was the best spot for end of the day mezes.
The true miracle was the evening we spent at Zephyros Sea Food in Itea, near Delphi. Arguing about pulling over because of wonky cell reception we accidentally arrived at a lovely waterside restaurant, Itea is on a lake that is very ocean like. There was no one there, and the menu was traditional Greek, therefore incomprehensible to me. I didn’t want to eat there without knowing it was worth it. We drove away and eventually found cellphone reception. We were sputtering with laughter when TripAdvisor revealed this was the place to go. We ended up having one of the best Greek meals of our trip and shared the incredible sunset that was later posted on Facebook.
TripAdvisor has some nice features that allow you to save your picks in My Trips and even share your Trip with someone like my daughter did with me.
Google Maps let us down a bit on our return to Athens from Delphi, though I am not sure how much of that was our failure to trust the directions; they were in total conflict with our core beliefs about the right direction. Generally, although my daughter is far more masterful at following the little blue ball on the Google Map to the right destination, the world’s #1 mapping site did right by us.
What would our trip been like if we didn’t have all this technology? I hope I never have to find out.
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