Guide books no more-How Internet is shaping the travel industry
When I was 18, wanderlust took over and I started my first adventures. I biked in Norway and Spain. Planning a trip was all about looking at a vague map to determine the best routes. Avoid freeways and big cities. Easy. Later in my life, I found myself planning more elaborate journeys. For example, I ventured to South America and explored Ecuador and Peru. All told, I now have traveled to 76 countries, many of them multiple times. Names like Equatorial Guinea and Vanuatu were common entries in my passport and travel logs. How did I prepare for my trips? Guide books. Lots of them. It was my eyes and ears for smart travel. And it helped me day dream, fantasizing about exotic beaches and quaint lodges to stay. Guide books provided me with a tranquil yet exciting hobby. I started to grab a guide book just to explore the planet. I read about horseback riding in Mongolia. River rafting in Madagascar. These are two places I never went. I only dreamed about them. But countless others like Papua New Guinea or Zambia became reality. Soon, holding a guide book in my hands became equivalent to being there, well, almost. It was the beginning of a journey.
Guidebooks no more. Not only are they obsolete in the days of the internet, but they are increasingly hard to find. There are just a few book stores left, and travel stores are disappearing altogether. This is too bad. Travel stores were all about the allure of travel, to let the eye wander among useful items such as money belts, TSA locks, language phrase books and yes, the plethora of guide books and maps. Of course, there was the latest design in backpacks, travel packs, and other luggage. My favorite was clothing. I mean I am a guy, and I used to wing it in jeans and t-shirts. But I realized that brands like Ex Officio and Patagonia, for example, just offered a superior product for a reason. They combated smelly clothes, protected against the sun, and featured lots of pockets to stash money, tickets, and whatever else. Ultimately, walking into a travel store was an adventure in itself. But without the need for a guide book, my trips to travel stores also became less likely.
Today, the younger travelers do not remember guide books. They don’t walk into travel stores. They rarely glance at a paper map, and even visual luxuries such as a globe are things of the past. The new generation of travelers has skipped the step of getting closer to the journey itself, by bringing the trip experience forward by physically preparing through tangible items in your hands. We now use the internet for all things travel. Yes, it is more efficient and convenient, often infinitely more practical. But the romance is gone. I say this because I am guilty as charged. I exclusively use web sites to explore the World of travel. My heart, however, still remembers the days when traveling to remote corners required a trip to the travel store and talking to a lot of fellow travelers for ideas.
The greatest opinions always are a result of perspective and lots of information. It used to be people that were the source of inspiration for me as a traveler. Today, it is simply the internet. What is better? That is for the new generation to find out. Happy travels!