Kristi and I have been traveling internationally for 25 years. We have always been adept at finding our way around, locating nontouristy (our preference) businesses, restaurants, neighborhoods, and places to stay. Scoping it all out is fun and we’re good at it.
But this fall we were thoroughly schooled by our kids. We are not techno dummies or neophytes, but it is incredible what they do, how quickly they figure things out, how much they can find in a very short time, how much easier it is. It made me wonder how in the world we ever used to get around!
Our first day in Denmark we drove from Copenhagen to the penninsula of Jutland taking a ferry at one point, and ultimately to our little apartment deep in the country. First part, no sweat. I knew where we were going, the route, the ferry time, had prepaid the crossing, everything. Patrick was tolerating my antiquated ways as he traced our route using Google maps. Then it got dark. We were on dark, country roads and the signage was nonexistent. Without the least problem he led us to our destination. The next morning when I walked the roads I was astounded at how tiny they were and how remote the area was. There is no way I could have found our place in the dead of night with nobody about.
His Google map mastery continued throughout the trip. I am astonished at how much of the world they have mapped – and accurately. So I asked for lessons. It is so much much easier navigating cities and remote country in a car with this tool. When you screw up, which I did more than once in Sicily, it got me back on course. I love a paper map, but I am a convert.
Then there was getting us around Copenhagen. We drove into the center city thanks to him and parked the car. He found an app that let us park where we were, using the phone to pay the parking fee. Everybody in Copenhagen rides bikes, and there are plenty of places to rent them. Patrick got on his phone, was able to remotely unlock the bikes, paying for them when we were done based on how long we’d had them. So easy – for him anyway!
Did this multiple times. Then he played tour guide using his phone to find off the beaten path, amazing food. We could have done, but it would have been in or near the neighborhood we were in. With the bikes we traveled afar for our food. Dang!
Then there is Megan. She is more traveled than we, having been around the world and, so far, visiting about 40 countries on every continent save Antartica. On previous trips we had come to trust her judgement completely when selecting places to eat. She has a nose for it. But we learned some new tricks. She told us that many cities have free tours. You pay the guide whatever you think it is worth at the end. She found us a great one in Copenhagen. It is a new trick for us – one we used in Palermo later after she had left us.
Then she does searches online for organic restaurants. You may not find any, but you are likely to find restaurants with some great food. She did this in both Copenhagen and Palermo and we had two of the best meals of the trip at her finds.
We don’t use our phones much at home, but this trip opened our eyes to some of the magic they can provide when traveling. Thanks to our kids!