It seems like everyday there is a new travel website launching—it can be overwhelming, even for us and we do this for a living! We're constantly testing the newest tools to help you sort the wheat from the chaff (refer to our list of the 10 Most Useful Travel Websites to see some of our favorites). Some sites, like TripIt help create custom itineraries. Other websites like Guestmob, Viator, and FlightFox promise ways to save money on hotels, cruise shore excursions, or airline tickets respectively.
And that's not even counting apps—a quick search in The App Store revealed there are more than 240 apps in the travel category alone, not to mention another 48 available for Android devices via Google Play.
Before smartphones and instant internet access, people relied on word–of–mouth recommendations, travel agents, printed guides and didn't mind getting a little lost if it meant having a great travel story to tell when they got home. It's not that these things have disappeared—most of us still ask our friends for recommendations before we travel, still own a guidebook or two, and travel agents are still in business. The difference is that now we also have currency converters, maps, online planners and translators at our fingertips. And it's easier than ever to share our can share our travel adventures on social media—or Pinterest—at any time.
We even did a story about this back in December of 2010 where we sent a writer to Mumbai with nothing but a smartphone to see what kind of trip he would have by relying on technology alone. In another story from our October 2011 issue, we sent a writer to France without any maps, guidebooks, itinerary, GPS, or cell phone to see if he could get by solely on advice from the locals.
As technology continues to evolve, so will we—and so will how we travel. We're just beginning to discover the ways that we can use all of the data accessible to us to make our lives easier. The question is—for the time being—do you find these new developments to be helpful or confusing? Do you think that printed guidebooks and travel agents will one day go out of business or will there always be demand for them? Sound off below!