Travel: Go anywhere, instantly
by Colleen Taylor
As technology has evolved, travel has been a major beneficiary: the compass, the steam engine, the internal combustion engine, and of course, airplanes. The importance of these engineering breakthroughs can’t be overstated. But the evolution of digital connectedness has, arguably, had an equally sizable impact on the ways that people get from one place to another.
In the past 15 years alone, travel has changed dramatically, thanks to the Internet and the rise of cell phones. Take air travel: You buy tickets online, often with the help of a handful of startups that can find you the best price, and when boarding, many airlines accept boarding passes via your mobile phone. Once on the plane, what used to be hours of lost time turns into productivity or entertainment, with many flights offering Wi-Fi connectivity.
Many web travel innovations — such as Orbitz and Priceline — emerged in the first dot-com boom. But the innovation is far from over, and the new companies are offering travellers more choices. Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry by providing shared rooms and houses for rent. Ubercab is shaking up taxis, by using cell phones to provide a killer lightning fast service from indepedent car operators. HotelTonight enables travellers to find rock bottom deals within mere minutes or hours of arriving in a city.
Travellers can now choose between a seemingly endless number of choices, and do so at the last minute. In terms of population, of course, the world is bigger than ever, but thanks to new technology, in many ways it seems a lot smaller than before.