Saturday, March 2, 2013


I like easy. Always have. Twist off beer caps rank in my personal top ten of things invented in my lifetime. 

Travel, however, can be hard.  Hard on the body. Hard on the budget. Hard on your feet.  

But after thirteen years on the road, things have become so much easier.  It's difficult to imagine life out in the world in 2000. Skype? Didn't exist. Facebook? A thing of the future. Even MySpace was yet to be invented. We kept in contact the old-fashioned way;  expensive long distance phone calls, postcards and email. 

I remember paying for dial up internet connection by the minute in hotel rooms from Cairo to Korea, Amman to Bulgaria.  No (as in none) internet access in all of Burma. Internet cafes were new and exciting places to meet other travelers. WiFi was a year old in 2000, and not found in every public place and pub.  Nor did we have extremely portable and convenient devices to connect with.  I didn't even have a cell phone until 2004, let alone a smartphone to surf the web. 

Today, if I need a restaurant recommendation in some foreign place, all I need to do is go to TripAdvisor or Yelp. And probably googlemaps. If I get lost on the way? Check my GPS on my iTouch. 

Need to know what to expect when I arrive? I swear there's not a destination left unphotographed, blogged about, and possibly podcasted. Sometimes it feels the joy of discovery has vanished.

Was travel more fun then? Probably not. But it was more surprising. And possibly more interactive. I certainly had no idea what to expect from Chisnau, Moldova or Nouakchott, Mauritania. If there wasn't a Lonely Planet or Fodor's guide, it was up to me and FM to work it out. Today, a few clicks on the web will provides more in-depth knowledge than I actually care to know. And probably a contact or two from

Even the thought that FM and I's life is unique has been squashed.  As a new Twitter account holder (@rickistout) I've connected with numerous people and couples living the ex-pat life in various countries and blogging about their trips, trials and tribulations.  Most of them doing a better job than I.  

Today, our lives on the road are infinitely easier. And all the picture gazing and blog reading will never substitute for the experience of actually being there yourself. It also doesn't prevent finding your own special experience, whether a great new restaurant, avant-garde boutique or the simple pleasure of talking to the locals and travelers you encounter.

As long as you remember to look up from your smartphone every once in a while.

1 comment:

Bill H. said...

So true...........being there is the ral treat!!