The summer after I graduated from high school, my friend Tracy and I took off for a six week adventure through Europe. This was 1994, and the word "Internet" and "cell phone" were most definitely not part of our vocabulary (although I would guess that some of my co-workers were already online at this point, being the forward thinkers that they are). Armed only with a "Let's Go Europe", we treked our backpacks from hostel to hostel, occasionally calling ahead from a local pay phone to reserve a room at our next destination. Each week, I'd call my parents collect to let them know I was still alive, and to catch up on the news from home. Sometimes I dropped postcards in the mail, many of which arrived long after I returned from my trip.
Fast forward 13 years (I am ancient!) to December, 2007. My husband and I just returned from a two week trip to Argentina, and although I've traveled internationally since that trip to Europe so long ago, this was the first time I really noticed how different communications have become. When we landed in Buenos Aires, I sent my mom a text message from my iPhone to let her known we were safe (I taught her how to text the day before I left in an attempt to keep her from running up the international roaming charges on my phone), and pulled up the hotel confirmation info on my husband's blackberry. Once we got to our hotel, we fired up our laptop, connected the international wireless card, and within minutes, we had found a place to eat for dinner using chowhound.com, booked a walking tour of Buenos Aires, and found a fantastic place to stay in Bariloche with the help of tripadvisor.com. Throughout the trip, we snapped photos on the blackberry and immediately sent them home to friends and family, sent text messages from the tops of mountains, kept up with favorite blogs and even participated in a beta test for a new mobile GPS application. In fact, on our walking tour of B.A., the guide stood in front of a building, and told us that when we got home, we should pull up the location in Google Maps and check out the surprise on the roof of this particular building. He was a little freaked out when we pulled out the blackberry and told him it was a racecar track!
Technology certainly makes it easier to do almost everything, and it gave me a lot of peace of mind to know that my family could get in touch with me at any time, if necessary. Still, I must admit I kinda missed the thrill of being far, far away, and having complete control over how and when I connected to the world back home.
Happy and healthy New Year everyone!