Travel Tech Commentary: Directions Across Generations


Most of us can remember the days when we’d buy a huge foldable paper map and spread it out on the kitchen table to plan vacation routes. Some of us may even still keep an atlas in our car “just in case.” When internet map programs like MapQuest became available, it was considered modern and tech-savvy to print out those turn-by turn directions for our trips. The trusty atlas still may have been wedged in the back pocket of the front seat for unexpected detours.

Not too long ago, GPS devices like Garmin and TomTom were an innovation that changed the way many of us travel. Of course, we all have stories about the time – or two, or three – that the GPS failed and took us way too far off track. “It’s a good thing we had our atlas in the car!” you might have said.

Today, those who were born in the 1990s and later known as Generation Z may not remember a time when they had to use paper maps or printed directions for anything, and they probably see traditional GPS devices as something their grandparents use to get around.


Now, the smartphone does it all. You can literally talk to your phone and ask it to take you to the nearest pizza restaurant, and you will there. Google Maps shows you where there are traffic jams that you may want to avoid, and helps find alternative routes. You can easily switch from diving to walking, biking or public transit directions.

Still, as amazing as it is, technology can sometimes fail. Your phone may run out of battery power, or may have trouble finding a satellite signal in certain places. In places with newer development, it simply might not know that a certain street or building should be there. So whenever you travel somewhere unfamiliar, think about keeping that seemingly archaic atlas nearby. You know, just in case.

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