Writing this on a train from Hamburg to Berlin, I have to acknowledge thatI currently have no idea what city I will be in a week from now. I will be spending the next 4 days in Berlin, then the following three in Prague, beyond that, I have no idea. Really, the only thing I know is that I need to be in Lisbon in three weeks.
My current though is to get from Prague to Lisbon via Germany Austria, and maybe Switzerland. However, today it’s only expected to be 14 degrees in Hamburg, and only slightly warmer in Berlin. Further, I packed everything into a single carry on for the next 6 weeks anticipating fall weather. If the weather stays like this, and this as cold as it’s going to get, I should be fine. However, if it does get significantly cooler, say, highs of 5, then that would be a problem, and I haven’t brought anything for witner. I would likely have to go south through Italy, or just catch a last second flight from Prague or wherever I happen to be to Spain or Lisbon.
I somewhat like this uncertainty. Sure, I have the next couple of days planned out with hotel reservations and train tickets. However, the train tickets can be changed with an app, and hotel reservations can be modified or canceled.
When trying to get into Hamburg, having issues with trying to catch a connecting train from Duisburg, I was thinking for a while that I might be stranded there, and have to spend the night. Sure, there are better places I would rather be stranded than a suburb of Cologne, but if I needed to, that could have been accomplished with an app.
Smartphones have made traveling without plans much easier, as you can generally adjust your plans at the last second, particularly if you aren’t concerned about costs. This would not have been possible back when I was growing up, when you had to make airline reservations by calling the airline, or a travel agent. For hotel reservations, my parents always had the Motel 6 national hotel directory, and planned out what hotels they were going to be staying in ahead of time, making reservations by calling a 1-800 number for all our road trips that involved more than a day of driving.
Now, I can just connect with one of several apps on my phone and make those reservations on the day of, for arrival that evening.
All of this has made planning travel much easier, which makes travel itself a lot less stressful, if you aren’t trying to conform with some pre set agenda. Sure, for some things, planning may still be necessary. In the post COVID world, you many times need to designate a time slot for museum visits. But, once again, these are things you can generally do over their website.
Perhaps the one issue that has come up is the places where you can make reservations online, but you need to bring a paper ticket to redeem the excursion. For instance, I had booked a bus tour for Hamburg, not realizing that I needed to bring a printed ticket, not just the email. In the end, I ended up not using the voucher, and essentially waiting eighteen dollars because I couldn’t figure out a way to get my voucher to a paper ticket. It’s 2022 folks, save some trees and let us use our phones for entry.
Speaking of Smartphones, all of this unplanning would be impossible without them. Sure, I’m on a roaming plan that doesn’t even allow for phone calls, however, I don’t really need that anymore, just the data so I can connect to the necessary apps. During this trip, my phone has become even more essential for me that it usually is. Initially, it was just for planning. However, on this trip, I have also managed to have my phone completly replace my wallet. Everyone out here takes contactless payment, so Apple Pay works everywhere, hence, I no longer need a wallet, except for the occasional places that only take cash.