EU.... Phone Home?
Thursday, September 1 2011
A friend recently asked my advice on the best way to navigate Europe with a mobile phone. The answer, I told them, is one of the most bandied around, horrible-looking and unimaginative terms around today: The Smartphone.
I’d love to harp on and on about how travel should be all about the authentic experience: the nostalgia and the thrill of adventure. But let’s be honest: everyone loves a creature comfort. Technology, just like it has revolutionised everything (as Steve Jobs would like us to think anyway), hasn’t let the notion of travel slip from its fibre-optic, insidious cyber fingers.
From online hostel check-ins to using Google Maps to find that very hostel, the internet especially has meant that what it means to travel has fundamentally changed.
This occasionally means getting lost. Smartphones now often double for GPS readers, beaming up into the heavens your location and using satellites to thrust back all those vital statistics – like your walking pace, distance to go, and the closest liquor store by foot.
99.99 per cent of hostels and hotels these days have complimentary WiFi. This means you don’t even need to lug around that laptop or have to wait with the commoners for a free computer in the lobby. McDonald’s stores around Europe almost certainly have WiFi also, making that last minute check of address on your trusty Smartphone so much easier. Albeit, your waistline might suffer – go easy on the quarter pounders and don’t feel too obliged to buy something (my hot tip: if you feel guilty about “stealing” free internet from McDonalds, think about the millions the company is worth and that, really, they should be giving SOMETHING back).
The prevalence of WiFi extends also to trains, so your Smartphone comes in very useful for boredom-busting games, and updating your Facebook status to make friends feel jealous back home. Nothing like real time updates of how drunk you’re getting in the beer tents at Oktoberfest, right?
Smartphones are also handy for a plethora of other tasks, such as currency conversion (now that the Euro has sunk, you can afford TWO skis in Switzerland!), weather updates (looks like it’s going to RAIN in London), and that camera actually being put to use other than for drunk party photos (how many filters and photo effects can you apply to the Eiffel tower or Colosseum?).
Alternatively, Google in its deity-like status has mapped the world for you. So actually, travel is entirely unnecessary.
PS: Here’s that ridiculous Angry Birds game ….it’s in Barcelona to help make it relevant. And they’re on smartphones.