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6 Ways the 21st Century has Forever Changed Travel

Traveling today looks very different than it did just twenty years ago. E-tickets, airline and hotel reservation bidding, TripAdvisor, and navigation devices are just a few examples of how the industry has changed. I can leave my house in Jaco, Costa Rica headed across the country to Manzanillo along the Caribbean without so much as a google search. My phone will route me, TripAdvisor will tell me what there is to do, where to eat, and where to stay. Affordability of international travel has drastically changed through couch-surfing and work exchanges.

Research, What Research?
Traveling, especially internationally, used to require hours of research to plot out destinations, transportation, where to exchange money, locate affordable good eats, learn how to manage public transit, and more. Today, the fly by the seat of your pants take on travel is much less extravagant, in fact it is becoming the norm for more travelers everyday. A quick search on google, wikitravel, or Trip Advisor will lend you to all you need to know. Since the internet is ever so accessible through smart phones and wifi hotspots in hotels, cafes, and restaurants around the world, the traveler has access the resources necessary to make or change plans on a dime.

Couchsurfing
Over the last decade a new travel phenomena emerged called couchsurfing. A term once translated as crashing on a friend’s couch has come to mean utilizing a 9 million member travel society for your hospitality and networking travel needs across 120,000 cities worldwide. Never before did the traveler have access to local hospitality, authentic living, and inside information that is offered by the couchsurfing community. The fact that the experience is free is icing on the cake!

Work Exchanges
Want to live like a local in a variety of countries around the world? Now you can, and you can do it on the barter system. International travel is no longer reserved for the rich. One month you might work at a hostel in New Zealand, the next month you could work at an organic farm in Australia, then head to Tasmania where you will work as a crew member on a sailboat. The average work exchange involves about twenty hours of work a week in exchange for free room and board and a one month commitment. Some ask for extra hours of work for a small stipend. Every arrangement is unique, so make sure you are clear on the arrangement prior to your arrival.

House Sitting and House Swapping
Before the 21st century, taking an extended trip involved pleading to neighbors, family, and friends to watch over your house and pets. Today, you are connected to an international community of house and pet sitters. A mutual benefit: free housing in exchange for care-taking created a new freedom for house and pet owners and a new method of international travel and living for sitters. Take that one step further… If you own a home in Seattle and want to visit Thailand, you can search various house-swapping websites for Thai Home Owners who are looking to stay in the US. Find the right match, and both owners score free housing, an international experience, and care-takers in their homes while they’re abroad.

Navigation
Gone are the days when the passenger ridding “shotgun” held the map upside down, directing you to god knows where. Instead a soothing voice directs you over your bluetooth speakers in your car when you approach a turn en route to your destination. More travelers rent cars and take to the road themselves in cities and countries foreign to them because they have the peace of mind that they will find their destinations with their GPS device. The freedom a set of wheels provides is endless. If you spot a tiny beach or turnout that peaks your interest you can detour as often as you’d like.

Translators
Language barrier, what language barrier? Pocket dictionaries are so 20th century. If you need help communicating abroad, simply pop open your Google Translate and use the microphone feature to speak the English sentence you want translated into another language. Select the desired language and Google Translate will write and speak your sentence in the preferred language. If you’d like to translate a store or street sign say, simply open your Word Lens app and take a picture of the sign (inside the app). It will then translate the sign into English for you.

All said, the 21st Century has provided the traveler with more economic, organic ways to experience other cultures and countries while simultaneously removing language and resource barriers.

Take a look at these websites if you want some ways to get out there in this day and age:
Workaway.info
Helpx.net
TrustedHouseSitters.com
Caretaker.org
Homeexchange.com
Lovehomeswap.com

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