Okay, first, watch this video on ‘Google Trips’:
What do you reckon? Pretty cool, huh?
Fucking no. It is not cool.
This app is nothing but another step on the dreary road to the death of adventure. My whole blog wouldn’t exist if I had this app, because none of the stories I write about would have happened, because everything would have been just dreadfully, mind-numbingly, white-picket-fence-perfect. Here’s what the app does for you:
1. Tells you flight times and locations
Come on. If you can’t remember those you probably shouldn’t be leaving your house.
2. Gives you directions to your hotel
Print them out? Write them down? Use a map? Maps are free at the airport. Pick one up. Ask at the information desk. It’s very easy.
3. Tells you things to do
Thank goodness this new app tells me what to do on holiday! I was worried I would actually have to speak to someone or spend 30 seconds researching the area! Phew!
4. Allows you to make a ‘personalised itinerary’
Wh… what? Surely the very nature of making your own itinerary means it’s personalised. No? Okay. Watch.
“I am going to the bakers, then the barbers.”
There. There’s my personalised itinerary.
Would a pen and paper do just as well? A piece of paper with a list of things on it that you want to see and do? A piece of paper can’t run out of batteries, you know. Marvellous creation, paper. Those crafty Chinese.
5. Your ‘personalised itinerary’ allows you to plan walking times
Excellent, because I hate walking through foreign cities, seeing all the ghastly people and their weird haircuts and gross food. Now I can scuttle through cities with my head down, focussing on getting to my destination which is exactly 386 metres away.
6. You can save the locations of cool restaurants and bars
If only there was some simpler, cheaper, more reliable method of saving information. If only there was some way I could transfer information from my head to a permanent portable form. Some sort of pad where I could note down the necessary addresses and opening times.
Apologies for the slightly venomous tone, but I despair to to see every ounce of discovery and adventure being wrung out of travelling. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is bloody useful, and has saved my bacon more than once when I’ve been travelling. At the same time, however, holidays are supposed to be an escape from our phones. They should be used minimally, not as the crux of your experience.
Yes, they are good for booking hostels. They are good in emergencies. But my god, get out there and have a real experience. Internet is barely available in Cuba, only in key hotels and parks, at tooth-grindingly slow speeds and high expense. I had to use maps, speak to locals, learn a little Spanish, follow sign posts, use my initiative, and actually turn my brain on.
Did I get lost? Did I make mistakes? Did I struggle? Yes!
But that’s what makes a memory, and more importantly, that’s what forces you out of your comfort zone, which is the only way you can grow as a person.
This app is offering absolutely nothing which isn’t already possible if you’re willing to spent literally 5 minutes planning your trip.Or don’t plan it at all! I planned nothing in Fiji, nothing in New York or Los Angeles, nothing at all in Cuba. This app would have ensured I saw practically nothing of those places. My trips don’t always run smooth, but they have given me a wealth of experiences which are absolutely priceless.
Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, and The Dharma Bums. Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries. Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Favourite travel books of mine that simply would not exist if the authors had this app. Where is the wonder, where is the excitement, when every journey is timed and plotted to within the minute? This app makes everything about the destination, which invariably leads to disappointment. Kerouac never wanted to get anywhere, he simply wanted to go.
Allow yourself to get lost. The beating heart of any city isn’t its tourist hives. It’s down the lazy alleyways where locals are hanging out washing, it’s hidden in smoke packed side streets where vendors are hawking sizzling meats from barbecues for a couple of coins a pop. It’s in city parks where kids are playing, and buzzing restaurants hidden in unassuming, crumbling buildings.
Maybe some people want the kind of clinical, low-fat, streamlined holiday offered by this app. Fine. But I don’t, and I never will.