6 High Tech Ways to Make Travel Easy
For your next vacation, let this tech gear do most of the hard work.
1. You want to navigate theme parks like a pro.
Your childhood theme park memories may include peering at paper maps and waiting in line to—finally!—board your favorite rides. Now, high-tech wristbands help minimize hassle and maximize fun.
It all started with Walt Disney World’s MagicBands—colorful, waterproof wristbands with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Wave it at a sensor to check in at a FastPass+ entrance (and skip the line). Another wave pays for lunch or unlocks your Disney Resort hotel room.
At Universal Orlando Resort, the TapuTapu wristband works similarly at Volcano Bay water park. All the rides offer “virtual lines”—simply tap the totem to find out how long the wait is. Then you’re free to explore until TapuTapu lets you know it’s your turn. It can also pay for food and trigger special effects throughout the park.
2. You need a little fantasy in your life.
Whether you’d love to feel as if you’re soaring through an alien land—or simply wish your interior cabin had an ocean view—technology has ways of making your wishes come true.
Avatar Flight of Passage, the signature ride in Pandora—The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, uses hyper-realistic 3-D imaging and moving seats to make riders feel like they’re in another world, plunging down the side of a floating mountain and coming close enough to a giant wave to feel the mist. SeaWorld Orlando uses similar technology: Thanks to virtual reality headsets, riders on Kraken Unleashed speed through the deep hunting grounds of the legendary sea monster on this open-sided roller coaster.
Not all such technologies pump up your adrenaline. Some slow it down—like Royal Caribbean’s “virtual balconies,” which bring an ocean view to interior cruise ship cabins. High-definition, high-speed cameras strategically placed around the vessel project real-time ocean views—and sounds—onto nearly floor-to-ceiling screens in the cabins.
3. You want your suitcase to do more than just carry your stuff.
Whether you’re missing a convenient place to charge your phone, or you’re worried about losing your bag, today’s smart suitcases can help.
Luggage manufacturers, including Raden and Planet Traveler, are going high-tech with smart cases that boast USB ports and powerful batteries for charging your mobile devices on the go. Just be mindful to look for smart luggage with removable batteries to help ensure you can check the bag when you fly.
The tech features don’t stop there: The bags also come with built-in scales, so you don’t hit unexpected weight charges at check-in. And Raden’s case comes with location sensors that link to a smartphone app, so you can easily track checked bags.
Don’t want to splurge on a new bag? Just slip a Bluetooth tracker like Tile (about $25) into your bag and follow its whereabouts with the accompanying app.
4. You want to squeeze every last ounce of fun from your cruise.
Picture it: You’re lounging by the pool when you realize you’re hungry, but you don’t want to leave your spot in the sun. Thanks to technology, you don’t have to.
Wearable tech has been finding its way onto cruise ships for a few years, but Princess Cruises has taken the concept to the next level with its Ocean Medallion. A blue disc about the size of a quarter, you can wear it like a pendant or a watch or just slip it in your pocket. With your digital profile, including preferences for things like food and activities, stored inside, the Ocean Medallion interacts with sensors throughout the ship. It’ll unlock your stateroom door as you approach and let you make paperless purchases.
With the Medallion’s Ocean Compass feature—which you can access on your phone—it does a lot more. Place an order with a couple taps of your phone’s screen, and it will show up a few minutes later. Another tap locates family members, books tomorrow’s shore excursion or pulls up directions.
5. You want a vacation that will keep every member of the family engaged.
Whoever said you can’t please everybody all the time has likely never been on one of today’s cruises. Technologically advanced vessels are wowing vacationers—of all ages—with entertaining innovations.
Among them are Royal Caribbean’s robotic bartenders. These marvels of engineering mix about two drinks per minute. Whether you partake or not, simply watching the machines in action is mesmerizing.
If that doesn’t hold you spellbound, the new Magic Carpet might. The cantilevered, floating platform can rise 13 stories above sea level. On the new Celebrity Edge, setting sail in late 2018, it lets cruisers feel like they’re flying—kind of like Aladdin and Jasmine.
Characters come to life for “real” through Enchanted Art on some Disney Cruise Line ships. What looks like a painting is really an LCD screen that launches into several seconds of animation when someone approaches.
6. You need apps that work harder than you.
Going on vacation is a time to relax and not think too much. Today’s smartest apps do the thinking for you, so your trip goes off without any hitches.
Enter your destination, dates, duration of stay and a description of your activities to get a customized packing list.
Brush up on more than a dozen languages with game-like exercises that teach basic grammar and vocabulary.
Snap a picture of a word (such as on a sign or a menu) and the app will translate it for you instantly.
Keep track of the current time in locations around the world, so you can easily connect with friends, family or colleagues.