Ten years since her first major taste of international travel, Shandelle Battersby is back on the road.
Twenty-sixteen marks the 10-year anniversary of my first trip to Europe, which I did as a working adult, rather than a poverty-stricken backpacker straight out of uni. I've been back a few times since, most recently this month, and was thinking about how much the way I travel has changed in that 10 years, even though my circumstances - and the destinations I choose - really have not.
When I was packing for this trip I needed a whole bag just for chargers, cords and adapters for my devices (which don't even number that many). Ten years ago, my camera ran on batteries and film, I used internet cafes (barely) and my phone was good for making calls and sending text messages ... and that was about it. The hunt for free wi-fi has turned into an obsession. Even elderly travellers tote smartphones and bloody selfie sticks. People are so busy documenting their trips for others that they barely stop to absorb what's through the lens.
I still send postcards, but it's getting harder and harder. The choices are terrible and it's difficult to find stamps. Plus it costs a lot! Email is definitely cheaper. Instead of calling people, I now use web-based messaging systems to make meeting points. But I need wi-fi to do it.
I will never - never - use a backpack again. The days of searching through a 20kg pack of clothes that you didn't actually need to bring half of to find the one clean T-shirt at the bottom, which smells like all the other dirty T-shirts anyway, are over. I love my suitcase.
The internet has also changed the way we book hotels. Gone are the days of turning up somewhere and hoping for a room, happy to share a dorm with 25 other snoring, wind-producing, inconsiderate eejits, some of whom have no qualms about having sex in the same room as an audience. I use third-party booking sites almost exclusively, even in New Zealand. For my September New York trip, I'll be using Airbnb.
Along with wi-fi, my other new obsession is clean clothes. I never thought I would do hand-washing in hotel rooms, but there you go.
I still love using a map, because I'm directionally challenged. But on the trains in London, people had the Tube map on their phones. Google Maps is, of course, easier. But see above re: wi-fi.
Catching cabs is for suckers. But Uber's not everywhere of course and - once again - you need that blasted wi-fi.