Does technology make us less adventurous?
Is there potential for travel planning to become too easy, and therefore take the surprise, fun and adventure out of touring?
All manner of press releases land in my inbox every day. But one that arrived recently really caught my eye. The email’s subject line: ‘Are Australians the worst drivers in the world?’
Now that’s a question. Written exclusively to ensure editors and journalists open the email, it’s as deliberately provocative as it is downright absurd. Because I like a good laugh, I opened the email anyway.
This press release was to promote a website built to ‘shame’ drivers who had done the wrong thing, from speeding to cutting another motorist off. The evidence put forward that somehow showed Australians were the worst drivers was that the website had received 80 posts from our fair shores in one week, which was apparently more than any other country.
This simplistic, juvenile argument is so easily demolished that I won’t waste my time or yours, but it does make me wonder about how modern technology is changing caravanning in Australia.
The ability to digitally dob on offending motorists aside, few would argue that the innovations of the early 21st century have made vanning much easier and more convenient than ever before.
Love Caravan World but can’t find it at the newsagent in the back of beyond? Then download it to your iPad. Need to change a tyre on the side of the road but lack the know-how? There’ll be an online tutorial for that. Whip out your smartphone and away you go.
While researching destinations for our annual Christmas camping trip one lazy day in the office, I found myself in Parks Victoria’s corner of the internet. I was able to see pictures of individual sites within a certain national park’s campground, email the link to my wife, who was at home, to get her thoughts, and a couple of minutes later the site was booked and paid for.
Despite never having been to this particular place before, I now have a very good idea of what to expect when we arrive – without so much as leaving my office chair or picking up the phone.
But is there potential for it all to become too easy, to take the surprise, fun and adventure out of touring? If we ever get to a point where our kids and grandkids don’t bother to explore Australia because technology has advanced so much that they can have an immersive travel experience without leaving the couch, it’s probably time to hit the delete button.
For now, as we GPS our way along the open road towards that campsite found on the latest app we’ve downloaded, let’s enjoy the ride. But if you find your partner admiring a Google image of Uluru when the big red rock is right in front of you, feel free to snatch that device right out of their hands.
And if you see a driver do something stupid, don’t ‘shame’ them online – you’ll only give Australia a bad reputation!