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6 Ways Travel Is Better Than It's Ever Been

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By: Ed Hewitt, Features Editor of IndependentTraveler.com

While there were plenty of great things about travel in the good old days, it's not all bad today -- in fact, there are plenty of "good old" things I hope never to have to live through again. The great things about travel today can be found in all areas of the travel experience, and are not limited to air travel. Without further ado, here are six things that are way better about travel right now.

1. No Paper Tickets
This is number one on my list, by far; frankly, the disappearance of this single item redeems the modern travel experience almost completely in my book. It wasn't just forgetting to bring your tickets to the airport that made it tough -- rather, it was taking extraordinary care not to lose your return tickets that was the real challenge. This alone may have created the fanny pack craze, as the only way to be sure your tickets were safe was to have them directly on your person. If you lost your tickets while traveling, especially overseas, replacing them sometimes initiated an ordeal worthy of an Ellis Island veteran. Good riddance.

2. Less Expense
One of the oft-cited arguments against reregulation of the airlines is the fact that some routes were almost insanely expensive under regulation, as prices were set by the government to ensure that the airlines were guaranteed a profit on all routes.

In truth, those government-determined high prices made possible the meals and silverware and free booze and people wearing suits -- the profit margins were so high that the airlines could afford to give away alcohol, and only people wearing suits could afford to fly.

Add to that the abundance of perfectly serviceable and clean budget hotels priced in the $60 - $80 range located in many parts of the world, and travel is actually affordable for much of the population.

3. No Dress Codes
The nostalgia for a time when everyone wore a three-piece suit or a dress on an airplane always confounds me. I got my start as a traveler not as a white-collar worker, but more like a five-dollars-a-day type, albeit a good generation or so after the original guide to inexpensive travel came out in 1957. To seek worldly adventure on a trip that started and ended in a gray suit just so you could get on the plane never had much appeal.

I am not in favor of bathing suits and short shorts on airplanes -- the planes are filthy enough without people smearing their sunscreen on the seats, and in close quarters no one needs to sit skin to skin with strangers -- but the democratization of air travel seems to me a good thing. There are still plenty of people who fly in suits, but now they might be sitting next to a 20-something backpacker in cargo pants, a family of four with kids in flip-flops or a pair of retirees in leisure clothes who've saved up for their dream trip. It's all good.

4. More Choice, More Airports
Certainly we have many more choices in routes, destinations, flight times, connecting cities and even airlines than we did a few decades ago. Additionally, the number of alternate airports that are served by airlines flying commercial jets has greatly increased. Although airline mega-mergers have threatened this trend considerably of late, the number of choices we have today can be a major boon to travelers, as it can let them escape the most heavily trafficked airports while actually putting them closer to their preferred destination.

5. No More Stopping for Directions
Even though mapping applications have been ubiquitous and accurate for only a few years now, this is one of those things that it is hard to imagine living without. Perhaps it is selective memory, but I have to go back almost to childhood to remember pulling over and asking directions at a gas station or from someone in their front yard raking leaves. Mapping applications are something of a modern miracle in the various ways we can use them as travelers, which go well beyond just getting from Point A to Point B.

For example, if you saw a restaurant that you want to revisit, but can't remember the name or exact location, you can use a street view app to go up and down the streets in the area you saw it, find the storefront and the restaurant name, and maybe even the restaurant phone number and hours of operation if they are shown on the window or awning.

6. Way More Information
When currency exchange rates first went online, it was a big deal; you could see on daily basis what your money was worth across borders, wow! Print guidebooks filled the gap here, but those could get outdated quickly, and early Internet message boards contained heaps of stuff, but for timely and expansive material, now is the time to be traveling.

Now the amount and detail of available information is stunning. You can find out which specific rooms are the best in any given hotel, the cheapest place to get gas on your way back to a car rental garage, the nearest coffee shop pretty much anywhere in the world, which aircraft seats recline and which don't, whether airport parking garages are full, and heaps more. If you take just these examples and consider how much headache, backache and heartache they can save you on a single trip, it really is a massive and positive change in how we travel.

Read the Original Story: 10 Ways Travel Is Better Than It's Ever Been

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