This week’s column comes to you from the Emerald Isle of Ireland, where I am vacationing with my family. As we travel the country, I’ve been taking notes of various uses, or lack thereof, of technology and thought this would be an interesting perspective to share.
My first impression of Irish technology was not exactly impressive. We flew Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin and while we were encouraged to download the Aer Lingus mobile app for our trip, it turned out mobile boarding passes were not allowed for our flight. This was the first time I had to print a boarding pass in more years than I can recall. To top it off, when we got to the airport, we learned the boarding pass we were asked to print at home was not valid for the flight. We had to get a boarding pass printed at the airport. To board the aircraft, anyone with a boarding pass printed at home needed to see the gate agent and have it reprinted. An odd process.
Once we arrived in Ireland, the use of technology became far more leading edge. You may book tickets for just about any venue you would like to tour online and when you arrive your tickets are waiting for you.
I have noticed extensive use of technology is in restaurants, primarily in the major cities like Dublin. Waitstaff carry small tablets, mostly Android tablets from what I was able to tell. When you order at your table, your server enters your order into the tablet, which immediately sends it to the kitchen. When the time comes to pay your bill, your server brings the credit card terminal to your table where you insert your chip card, enter your PIN and pay your bill. No signature required. Europe, in general, remains far ahead of the United States in terms of payment card technology, security and ease of use. Paying by card is a much faster process than at home.
As we travel around the country, we have been renting homes in many locations. At our most recent stop in Doolin, in western Ireland, our rental agent met us at the house with her iPad. She confirmed our booking, checked us in and processed our payment, all from her iPad. Connectivity is everywhere. Even on the Aran Islands off the coast near the Cliffs of Moher we had LTE service.
Renting a car in a foreign country, especially one where they drive on the left-hand side of the road, can be a bit daunting. It’s been made quite a bit easier by Waze, the navigation app I use all the time at home. It’s made driving the Irish countryside almost easy, if you remove the narrow roads and fast moving trucks that come at you with no hesitation. Waze has been flawless. If you have not used it, download it for free and check it out.
To keep safe while using a navigation app on my phone while driving on the wrong side of the road, it was critical the phone be mounted close to my line of sight so I did not have to take my eyes off the road. This is where Scosche’s Magic Mount comes to the rescue. I use this in my car with the dash mount at home. This is a suction cup mount that needs no adhesive to stay on the dash. It’s a magnetic mount, so you place a slim metal plate on the back of your phone and it effortlessly stays in place. For travel, I carry the Magic Mount Vent, which attaches to the air vent in the dash. This is how I kept my phone mounted high enough so I could see the map without taking my eyes completely off the road. It’s worked perfectly.
When traveling with several people in the same car, keeping everyone’s devices powered up is key to maintaining family peace. I did not want to deal with the constant battle for the charger to keep five or more phones charged at all times. This is where the RapidX X-5 charger is invaluable. This unique charger plugs into the power port in the car. The piece that plugs in has two USB ports and a five-foot cable that leads to another section with three USB ports and a clip to attach to the seatback pocket behind one of the front seats. This way, people in the front of the car can charge their phones while three people in the rear can charge as well. The ports deliver up to 2.4 amps of power, enough to charge a tablet as well.
Technology is everywhere and by and large its use makes our lives better. Let me know what you see for technology in your travels this summer and Google Scosche and RapidX to find gadgets that will make your travels by car much happier.