I’m just back from a weekend getaway in Bangkok, Thailand, just to escape from the hectic work life in Mumbai. The Mumbai chaos can sometimes be a bit overwhelming for Europeans, so I decided to visit the well-organized “City of Angels”, mainly for relaxing and shopping.
I didn’t take much with me, with the idea that I’ll buy most of it over there, so armed with a couple of t-shirts, a pair of jeans, slippers and of course my 3G cell phone I took off. The latter was part of an experiment to redefine the way we travel. Forget maps, forget sending postcards, forget exchanging phone numbers. These are so nineties! The tools of the modern traveler are Google Maps to navigate, Dopplr or TripAdvisor to get advice from fellow travelers, Twitter to keep the home front updated and Facebook to keep in touch with the other backpackers you’ll meet.
It’s remarkable how well penetrated Facebook is in the young travel community. When I was passing by internet hotspots, 75 % of the people were checking their Facebook account and a very standard way to say goodbye is “oh, add me on Facebook”.
I use Twitter already a lot to engage in interesting discussions with colleagues and friends and a couple of my best ideas came from Twitter discussions. The most interesting part of something like Twitter is that you can think out loudly and once in a while it gets picked up by one of your contacts who gives you a whole different view on the problem you are trying to tackle. For this trip, I wanted to use it more to use as some kind of diary to keep everyone updated what I was doing and I even got engaged in some funny Twitter discussions while crawling through one of Bangkok’s many markets.
I sure admit that it takes perhaps some of the “romantic backpackers way of life” away, but it also puts an extra dimension to your trips. Think about a great night you had in a bar with some travelers you met. You take some pictures, upload it on your Facebook account, the people you’ve met can comment on the pictures, share their pictures with you and you build up a whole world of memories. It would be actually cool to have your geography location associated with your Twitter updates so that you can afterwards see on the map where you have exactly seen that funny cow sleeping in the middle of the street.
We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. One of the most promising areas for the future is the domain of location-based services where services and information adapt to your location, but that’s an experiment I will talk about in August. I’ve been asked by Nokia to test their E71 business phone (with GPS, HSPDA and Wifi) and will take this new way of traveling to a next level during my trips to Berlin and Helsinki.
Stay tuned!