Rick is back on the road and he just posted this: "The feeling that I've spent two years in limbo is only heightened by the huge leaps I'm seeing in technology, as many innovations engendered by the pandemic have been embraced as simply smarter — part of a new, more efficient status quo. In more and more countries, cash seems to be fading away, and "contactless" payment is becoming the norm. Tickets for museums and trains are going digital. Phone apps are replacing rentable audio guides. In central Paris, I've seen more bikes and electric scooters in the bike lanes than cars in the (remaining) car lanes. All these changes make me feel a little bit befuddled...and a little bit younger, too. It's fun."
We were just in Portugal. We had been to Lisbon in 2014, and most places were a cash-only deal, including the pensione we stayed at. This trip, we were ready with a bunch of Euros, but surprise! Credit cards were accepted pretty much everywhere. Many restaurants were ready with the handheld scanners. Tickets could be booked online, QR codes everywhere. It was a big change!
All of my tickets that I'm buying ahead of time are digital, and most can go into Apple Wallet (including my Motel One stay in one city). I love it as I hate carrying cash.
It's becoming harder and harder to remain a ludite if one wants to travel. J and I returned from our RS tour 2 weeks ago; our cell phones were the only tech that we used. We struggled a bit at times--he is iPhone and I am Google--but we probably saved a few trees by using wallets, downloads, and screenshots, etc.. I had mentioned to the RS office that a show about travel tech might help some of us better utilize the tech we have.
Can i reverse it then - as you are mainly from the US. Are you saying that America does still use cash a fair amount? NZ was fairly cashless before the pandemic - but since I only use cash for the odd parking meter (and only then because I don't use them often enough to be bothered putting credit on the app). I literally have no cash on me 95% of the time
I’m from America and I never use cash here. Most people I know don’t use it much, but there are those who prefer it or don’t have access to a credit or debit card. Sometimes vendors at outdoor markets are cash only, but even that is getting less common with lots of vendors using those little credit card attachments to iPads. Parking meters in my city are now pay-by-app. When my washing machine broke I was surprised that the machines in the laundromat took credit cards. I’ve had the same $20 bill in my wallet for months, never need it but I keep it for some weird situation where cash is necessary.
I used to go to ATMs a few times a month. Now it's a few times a year.
@Lissie, I'm also from America and the last time I had cash in my wallet was about 6 months ago. I never need cash and most establishments don't expect me to have it. In a person to person situation, I use Venmo.
And not to generalize too much, I think that older men are more inclined to want cash. My son-in-law likes to have cash and uses it frequently, and other male members of my family do as well. However, my daughter and female friends are much more likely to use credit cards and Venmo.
Some people worry that cashless payments make it harder for them to follow a budget in day to day living. For some, cash helps limit spending and becomes the preferred mode. They aren’t dinosaurs, they are just following a system that works for them.
Can i reverse it then - as you are mainly from the US. Are you saying that America does still use cash a fair amount?
That is sort of the irony of all this. I would say most Americans think nothing of operating cashless, use their phone for many functions, and go about their merry way at home.
However, get to Europe, and all of a sudden it is paper maps and wads of cash, traveling with technology, for many on here, seems to be taboo.
I am in the camp that traveling without my phone (basically pocket computer) is just not going to happen. That would be like going on a hike and intentionally wearing shoes too small...just so you don't enjoy it too much.
Now admittingly, there are many on here "above a certain age" that eschew technology, but I do have to admit American business does not make it easy. Credit cards refusing to adopt Chips at first, and then avoiding PIN all together, and adding other barriers to seamless payment. Phone companies not widely offering easy phone and data plans for Europe and abroad, locking phones, and for a time opposing dual SIMs. It has been a fight to make technology work when traveling.
I did finally seek out a true Chip and PIN card (with PIN Priority), contactless has helped greatly for both CC use and Phone app use, companies like Google Fi and T-Mobile have made data seamless when traveling, so I have to admit, I am mostly set, and my two post/mid-pandemic trips have really reinforced the role technology plays in travel, much like Rick describes, and a bit of a joy.
Paul, I agree that traveling without tech is going to become more difficult for people. I’ve used tech to enhance my travel for years, I’m no expert but find what I use valuable.
I’m predicting a lot more “how do I use this” questions on the forum and am happy to help where I can. I do think Rick should do some sort of updated using tech show or web video. I bet a lot of his audience would find it valuable.
I think a tech show would be great!
I am pushing myself to use my phone more. I just did my PLF for Belgium and could not get it to submit on my laptop but after the 4th non-submit thought...duh...try the phone...and yes,it went right thru. I also purchased museum tickets via phone. I have all my train tickets, PLF's, museum tickets saved to Notes and backed up with screen shots filed in an album.
Here at home I still use cash for small purchases, hair stylist, infrequent drive thru, coffee. I started using my CC for groceries during the pandemic because it was touchless and stopped using my debit card so I didn't have to put in a pin. I'm still using the CC and like that fine. At our local RS meetup one of the other folks talked me in to adding a card to my Apple wallet so I'm trying to move in that direction, lol. I use cash when I eat out with friends as it's easier to split the bill .... and yes I know there are bill splitter apps or venmo but my friends are even less technically inclined than I.
Society was moving towards cashless, the pandemic just pushed us all in that direction a lot sooner. Also get ready, credit cards are on the verge of being passe because of Venmo, Zelle, etc. which the major banks are getting behind and generationally, those pesky young'uns have grown up only knowing how to pay using those apps.
In Paris a few months ago I used my credit cards everywhere. Well except for taxis, I tended to use cash there since it was low amounts and I could easily do the math to round up for the tip. There were still scads of ATMs all over town.
@Pam, you can generally split a bill without an app. My friends and I just ask the server to divide the bill in half (or 3+) and put the divided amount on each credit card. Or if you're not equally dividing the bill, the server can adjust each portion for each person's card. Restaurants have great tech now and I've never had a problem doing either of the above.
@Mira, I agree about a tech show. I was rooting through some articles about cell phone use abroad and although he mentions SIM cards, there is no mention of using eSIM data plans, which would be very helpful.
Mardee, a friend and I have one place we eat that does not like to split bills. I also found that was less common when I went with family to Kauai this winter and did NOT think to have cash with me. We wound up sort of just taking turns paying the whole bill since none of us are big drinkers so no one was running up a big bar tab.
I'm like Pam. I love paying contactless via my watch (no signature required), and use cc for most purchases. However, I still carry and pay by cash if my purchases are less than $10. That's just my arbitrary amount.
On our last trip our tickets and passes were on our phones, but then I have the added worry of making sure nothing happens to our phones; that they do not get lost or stolen.
I didn't have any local currency when I went to Prague in Sept. 2019. The only real issue that I encountered was when trying to use a public restroom at Vysehrad, which did not accept credit or debit cards. Thankfully, one of my travel companions did have some coins and the problem was solved.
Interesting post. I am of a 'certain age' but not technology shy. Like others have mentioned I use cash for budgeting purposes. Most of my bills are set to auto pay, I use one credit card for gas, groceries, big purchases. I use another credit card for online purchases. I go to ATM a couple times a month and get my allowance for all purchases like coffees, fast food stops, etc. It is my fun money. When I am in UK or Europe I do the same. I use a credit card for most hotels, large meals, train tickets, etc., but I use cash for day to day museum tickets, lunch, coffees, small purchases. For me it isn't that contactless is too techy for me. For me, it is a matter of discipline over my daily spending.
As a "seasoned" traveler. In the past using your phone overesas was VERY expensive. My phone provider (T-mobile) now lets me text free anywhere and call for 25 cents a minute overseas. I can buy a data plan for a month for about $60. My concern is charging. I have a europen plug with hdmi cable slots, Do i need a voltage converter also?
Jan Going to Scandanavia this summer!
I had T-Mobile service until recently. I didn't have to pay extra for a data plan if I was OK with the relatively slow data rate offered as a default. It didn't bother me much; I always choose lodgings with Wi-Fi, and I try to avoid places with multiple complaints about slow Wi-Fi. The result is that I am not terribly dependent on cellular data.
I'm like Mira and have had the same cash in my wallet and coins in my car for two years. However, I've got a lot of Euros and Pounds leftover from past trips that still needs to be used up. The B and B were staying at in Scotland in June is cash only and our hotel in Venice a few years ago offered us a 10 or 15% discount if we paid cash. Perhaps that hotel has changed its ways, but credit card fees do add up. I'm going to try and start using up cash with my next couple of trips and then move to more e-transactions.
As for other technology, I'm all-in at home, but have shied away outside of Canada because of ridiculously priced cell phone plans from my provider. I'm always concerned about not being able to access my tickets if their is no wifi. As well, my wife would rather eat bugs or kick puppies than use technology. Baby steps in June as we'll buy Sim cards for the first time.
My concern is charging. I have a European plug with hdmi cable slots, Do i need a voltage converter also?
You almost certainly don't need a voltage converter, and a European plug is the right idea. But HDMI cables aren't right. You'll want some variation of USB cable (the right answer depends on what time of plug/charger you have, and what type of phone you have.)