Technology for travelers, when it works

Scanning your ticket is oh-so-convenient – when it works

We love to travel and technology is just so helpful … when it works! We book our accommodations online, we book our plane, train and bus travel. We use google maps to help us walk around town and find restaurants, pubs, and attractions. Google search tells us everything we want to know about the history and culture of a place. The Tripit app collects all of our reservations and, of course, the camera app lets us capture our memories every step along the way.

When technology doesn’t work, you can get lost or stranded.

We’re currently on a train headed back to Gatwick airport after 10 days in the UK. We’re commenting on how efficient the process is now: Jim makes the reservation and pays using the Trainline app on his phone. No need to make the reservations in advance – we usually did it on the day of travel. When the transaction is complete it delivers a QR code. You scan that QR code at the turnstiles in the train station, the gate opens and you’re on your way. Or not. At one gate I brought up the QR code on my phone, held my phone to the scanner and… nothing. I held it the other way around … nothing. I asked Jim to bring up the code on his phone since he had the original – I held that to the scanner and … nothing. That is so bloody aggravating! (See how I’m trying to fit in with my language here in UK?😀.) We finally looked around for someone official, she smiled and opened the gate for me, not even asking to see my ticket.  We all commiserated about %#*technology. 

Then there’s our walking directions. That technology in Google Maps gives us complete independence when we’re traveling to unfamiliar places. When it works. It doesn’t help much when your phone announces to turn left at Castle Way, when you’ve already passed Castle Way!    And, walking directions won’t work at all, even with downloaded offline maps, if you have no cell signal/Internet connection. We think that problem has something to do with Jim having an old phone. Either that or the internet connection was slow. But I was navigating as well, using my slightly newer phone with the same Google Fi cellular connection and my directions were spoken promptly. In any case, I will chalk that one up to our equipment.

All-in-all you’ve gotta admit that the problems are slight compared to the benefits. The QR code issue only happened once in more than a dozen train rides. 

We’ve enjoyed traveling by train in the UK. It is so civilized.

Our biggest transportation problem in this whole trip was the distance between the New Jersey shore, where we left our RV, and JFK airport. After our experience here in the UK (and in Italy) we would expect to catch a train from JFK that would take us South with stops along the way between NYC and Atlantic City. But, alas, there is no such thing. We still don’t know exactly what we’re going to do.

Our combined road-trip and UK visit

The UK portion: all trains, buses, and boats. All planned and executed on-the-fly with our smartphones.

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