Has Google killed the greatness of travel?

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This was the most conflicting question going through my head while I was away on holiday.

On one hand, Google has greatly facilitated trip-planning and navigation for present travellers. Imagine back then, people were carrying maps and guidebooks along with them while trying to find their intended destinations – quel horreur!

For one, that shouts ‘I’m a tourist’ and makes us vulnerable travellers in foreign land; and for two, that is just too bulky for comfort!

With everything available on your phone (map markers, the different methods to get to wherever you want to go, the timings of the next public transport, recommendations around you, reviews of restaurants etc…) what’s not to like about this powerful tool?

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Google don’t lie: The Kebab was simply delicious!

The Opposition

Here comes my own opposing view on how we, as travellers, have been overly reliant on Google.

Have we forgotten what it is like to have human interactions? Google gives probably the best answers and recommendations but what happens when we get all stuck in the hole of being on the phone for answers? I think that it is equally important to ask locals in person, while they might not give you the best answers, it is still part of the excitement of travel, no?

Have we also forgotten to let ourselves immerse in our own travels? Google has allowed us to follow through our planned itineraries with great ease, but has it also made us inflexible for unexpected surprises? Travelling to me is about exploring, and in fact, these two words are synonyms. We remember our overseas trips not because of how well-planned it went, but rather on the small things which exceeded our personal expectations. So why restrict ourselves now to our pre-planned itineraries?

Finally, have we forgotten that it is only human to make mistakes? Seemingly Google provides the best answers and through reviews and ratings we accept them wholeheartedly. Should they fall short of expectations, do we start blaming Google or ourselves for the ‘lack of-s’? I realise that travellers in general have now become intolerable of these mistakes, but subconsciously we also know that sometimes they can be a sham. So why the sudden burst of anger?

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Who else thinks that Zaanse Schaans in Amsterdam is rather disappointing?

Essence of Travel

As an active traveller, I would like to share the reality of travel – the grass is not always greener on the other side. You meet with really shitty encounters but those are also part of the overall experience. Keep the fond memories and remind yourself of the not-so-good-ones. While Google makes the job probably a million times easier, it is also worthy to remember the essence of travel – be stupid and just explore!

 

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