On a recent trip to South Korea I had a throw back in time. While walking the street of Seoul I was trying to grab an Uber ride (UT there) with my phone but I was unable to secure a ride. I was making my way back to my hotel room and was using my phone GPS to find my way. Although I knew the direction of my hotel , I was a few miles away and was unsure I could pinpoint the location. But then my battery died and I felt so alone.
It made me realize how dependent I've become on my phone and the conveniences that come with mobile internet connection. It seems like life without IPhone was a long, long time ago. Maybe 20 or so years is a lot to many, but it's only represents a third of my life. I've lived most my life without it.
I remember the first time I saw someone using a phone with internet. It was a young friend of my daughter's. When I saw him surfing the internet on it for the first time 20+ years ago, I was amazed. And to see just a kid using it, I thought, that's one expensive birthday present!
I obviously think nothing of it these days. I take for granted I'll have coverage anywhere in the world I go, even though that's not exactly true. But it is amazing how available mobile internet coverage is available in some very remote areas.
In my early days of international travel it was a bit more complicated. I remember my first trip to France and renting a car in Nantes, France for the drive down to Niort. As I recall, it was around 2 hours drive. Back then you used maps. I know! Is Rand McNally even still in business?
It was a chore to drive and read the map at the same time. Not so much in the country, but more so in the cities. The network of roads in metropolitan areas can get complicated while driving and trying to look at a map. Today, they say don't text and drive, but I think it was more dangerous back then to read a map and drive alone!
Although I would occasionally get lost back then, I still could always navigate successfully eventually by use of a map, but it was more of a struggle.
In the "old days", when walking I never ventured far from the hotel in big cities. As a pedestrian I never carried a map with me so I would not risk getting lost. I didn't want to be the stupid foreigner asking directions in English and expecting they would understand.
Travel today is so much easier. From my phone I can find anywhere I want via GPS. I can find favorite attractions in nearby areas. I can find hole-in-the-wall places someone has "discovered" that never would have been in a Fodor's Travel Guide. I can pay for things using my phone, so if I have no cash, I can make do (in some cases). Reservations can be made via my mobile phone to area attractions. And I can use a translation app to communicate if I'm in a country where English is poorly spoken.
I really don't long for the "good ol' days" before mobile internet. As a frequent traveler, my life has gotten a lot less stressful, if I can only maintain my battery charge.