My experience traveling abroad is certainly different from what my parents had. In Croatia I had my iphone with me most of the time. I would communicate with family and friends when I had wifi but most of the time I was pretty off the grid without a data plan. It was nice to be that way although I didn’t actually need my phone since I was pretty much always in the company of other people, and all my family and friends didn’t expect much contact since I was in a pretty remote area for most of the summer. The only times I was really grateful to have the phone was for google maps directions and a couple times when I was alone in Zagreb I used my phone to look for restaurants. Toward the end of summer when I had some time to tour Croatia I was mainly using the rough guide guide book. It actually never really occurred to me to google what to do, but my family also really trusts the rough guide and we have some serious brand loyalty. My mom was able to come visit during that time and when we booked hotels and made restaurant reservations the phones came in super handy. Also Uber existed in Croatia which came in super handy a few times and a similar car service in Israel “Gett” is also fantastic.
In Tel Aviv I also decided not to get a data plan but wifi is much more widely available. I used my phone initially for maps and directions, but also sometimes for restaurant, museum, and other miscellaneous recommendations. Also in Tel Aviv I don’t live with my closest friends so I use whatsapp heavily to contact friends. Airbnb came in super handy when I arrived to Tel Aviv the week before school started. I think that Airbnb has to be one of the biggest travel game changers in the last few years. Actually what people like to do now (which I participated in) is use airbnb to connect, work out the details on Facebook, and pay separately through paypal. That way you can reap the benefits of airbnb as a service for connecting travelers and hosts, but hosts can get around the airbnb tax. Also the internet has been awesome to me in the search for cheap flights. Easyjet, and various fare comparing websites have been really helpful.
For fall break I travelled to Berlin, and there is no way the trip could’ve come together as quickly without the internet. I was looking for a cheap place to stay and emailed my family to find out if we know anyone in Berlin, they reminded me that our family friend lives there. I didn’t have his contact information so I texted his brother in California who gave me his number, and from there we worked out where to meet so he could give me the key to his apartment. All this correspondence took a couple days whereas a few years ago it would have taken many months!! In Berlin I relied heavily on my phone for directions, restaurant recommendations, and ideas for things to do.
I think that maybe the biggest effect that the internet has had on travel is it has made it increasingly easy to travel spontaneously and cheaply. You can arrive in a completely new country with no plans and get yourself completely set up.