A Breakup Letter… And A Bit More

In The Art of Travel, 7. Travel 2.0, Prague by Vivian

Dear Yelp,

I’m sorry to have to write this letter to you. But it is necessary. Despite all our good memories together, the time we’ve spent exploring cities together, and all the amazing food you have introduced me to, I have to say that this relationship of ours cannot last any longer. I’m afraid I have to move on. Being in a new city, I often find that you’re not there for me anymore, especially when I need you. Regardless of how much I have loved you before, this relationship has become difficult to maintain. Sorry, but I’m breaking up with you. Thanks for everything.

Best regards,
Vivian

Ok, alright. Maybe being unable to use Yelp as much isn’t that dramatic, but there’s some truth in how being abroad in Prague has completely changed how I use technology. Being in Prague and traveling to new countries every weekend has reshaped my view of technology and its impact on my life. Granted there are ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately, it’s undeniable how much I rely on technology. It has permeated every part of my travels, from organizing my accommodations, finding restaurants, navigating me through foreign cities, and even just simply keeping me connected to my friends and their adventures through Europe.

Let me give you a few examples:

  • Airbnb

Airbnb has completely remodeled the hotel industry as a whole, as well as my life while traveling. I can state right now that for every single trip I’ve been embarked on while abroad, I’ve used Airbnb to book my accommodations. And honestly, I don’t regret it a single bit. Why? First, I save so much money compared to if I were to book a hotel. Grab a few friends, book an apartment for approximately $20 – $30 or so a night per person, and you’re set! The places usually come with so many more useful amenities than a hotel could ever offer as well (i.e. stovetops, microwaves, pots and pans, seasonings, a table large enough for beer pong), not to mention the fact that you feel right at home and totally in your comfort zone.

  • Find my Friends

Ever in a pinch and can’t find a friend? Did someone wander off while (hypothetically) intoxicated and won’t answer their messages? Or maybe you got lost in a city crowd and got separated from your friends? Don’t worry, because Apple’s app, Find my Friends, has your back. By chance of luck, almost everyone I typically travel with has an Apple iPhone, which has honestly saved me so many times. By simply adding each other on Find my Friends, we never really have to worry too much if our group wants to split up and look around the city, or if someone gets lost. If we ever need to find each other, our locations are accessible to each other within just a few taps, even if their phone ran out of battery (in which case their last-recorded location is available).

  • Venmo

I’m sure you all are familiar with Venmo. It’s a mobile payment service owned by PayPal, where you can transfer people money free-of-charge directly from your bank account. It’s super easy to use, and in my case, a lifesaver when you need to split a bill. For example, when booking Airbnbs, usually it’s booked on one credit card. So rather than having the entire group scramble to look for stacks of cash to pay you back (and in the appropriate currency too), they can easily just transfer you the exact amount through Venmo. Same thing goes for flight tickets, restaurants (waiters will appreciate this so much), lending cash, and much more.

  • Google

To be specific, by Google I mean Google Reviews especially in terms of restaurants. In many of the places I traveled to, such as Hungary, Austria, Croatia, and even Prague, Yelp reviews pretty are non-existent. Because of this, I’ve switched to googling “must-go restaurants” in each place I go to rather than Yelping (sorry Yelp). Google has done an amazing job in recommending restaurants; not only does it provide reviews, but it provides easy access to restaurants’ phone numbers (for reservations) and websites (for looking at the menu), as well as links to different travel websites with more information (such as TimeOut, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor). Highly recommend!

  • Reddit

Had to stick this in, even though it’s not necessarily designed for traveling. This aggregation of online forums and discussions on literally anything and everything is the perfect app to pass time with. It doesn’t use up a lot of data (which is crucial especially if you have a limited phone plan), and it’s so simple to navigate and get completely engrossed in. I had a 7 hour flight delay on the way to London (side note: don’t fly Wizz Air,  apparently we were delayed because they couldn’t find a plane, pilot, or crew to fly with…) and this app was my saving grace, especially since I was stuck with a dead laptop and a broken adapter.

And that, my friends, are five of my most used iPhone applications while traveling. I rely on technology so much that I find it to be very difficult for me to be separated from my phone or to have my phone run out of battery. You’ll pretty much never find me without a portable charger or a dead phone battery. On the other hand, however, I wish I could live in the moment more, especially while navigating through cities. Given my terrible sense of direction, it’s pretty hard to orient myself, but it’s definitely something I want to improve on. I also want to someday be able to just get lost in the city, explore, and not worry… but I’m completely an A-type and prefer to have things planned to the tee. Maybe someday… but not yet. After all, the last time my phone died on me I got lost in Munich, Germany, and was stranded at a bus stop until my friends came to save me… but I’ll leave that story for another time (maybe, no promises).

Image source

  • WithoutMyPhone: Vivian