“I tried doing that on our trip to Portugal.” I shuddered. “Never again.”
I’d downloaded a popular Portugal guide, which had apparently simply been scanned from the print edition without any real attempt to adapt it for e-readers. Navigation was exceedingly awkward, and the photos and maps were inscrutable. Worse, the text was constantly interrupted by random factoids. I can only assume that in the original book this information was neatly corralled into shaded boxes discretely positioned off to one side. Now, it sprang into the middle of the text demanding attention, like a drunk gatecrashing a party, and I had to spend all sorts of time picking my way past it to get back to the topic at hand.
That’s when I started thinking about some of the old, low-tech travel tips that are still the best option.
3. Don’t rely on a translator app for real-time conversation. It’s awkward to pull out an iPhone, open the app, type in a phrase, and ask cab drivers or waiters to read the tiny screen or listen while you butcher the pronunciation. And there is no way they’re going to take time to tap in a reply, let alone one that is spelled correctly enough for the app to translate it properly. You’re better off using a mixture of English, hand gestures, and a few key phrases written down in advance.
4. Carry a small notebook in your pocket. I know how old-fashioned this sounds, but writing is still the best way to ask unpronounceable questions in a language you don’t know. Jot down the name of your hotel, the bus you’re seeking, and local dishes you want to try. It works like a charm.
New travel technology can make your journey easier, safer, and more fun in countless ways, and I know people who claim they can’t wait until an iPhone can be permanently imbedded in their body. I’m a bit more selective. I love my e-toys as much as anyone, but it's comforting to know that you can still rely on time-honored, low-cost, low-tech solutions to get you where you want to go.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY