When I was a kid, my parents took me on a week-long road trip from Chicago to Boston. It was disguised as a learning experience, but I’m pretty sure my dad just wanted to play golf across half the country. I suspect there was a visit to the State House or Paul Revere’s pad, although I mostly remember the cool stuff – like eating lobster and watching a reenactment of the Salem Witch trials.
I remember a lot of walking, liberal picture taking, and overzealous tour guides wearing bonnets. Twenty-some years later, I just made the trip again for business, and while the sites have remained the same, I found that the art of tourism has changed quite significantly. With a few minor upgrades in technology, I managed to squeeze a week of being a tourist into just a couple of hours. Here were my shortcuts:
Tours: No need to jump aboard the double-decker-duck-trolley-bus when you can download an audio tour of the Freedom Trail on your phone or pull up Wikipedia on your tablet at no cost.
Site Seeing: Forget trying to jot down John Hancock’s epithet or remembering the name of the place where you took the photo of the statue of the guy. Just check on in at “Granary Burial Ground – John Hancock’s Tomb” and leave yourself a lovely note, like “throwing pennies at gratuitous phallic symbol,” to remember it.
Dining: Skip the opens-so-huge-you-can-see-it-from-space free map from the concierge and use Open Table to make reservations at the seafood joint with the best Yelp reviews. I recommend going old school on the lobster though – no tech required.
Entertainment: I’m not proud to admit I spent a lot of that spring break in 1989 listening to my Madonna tape while my mom tried to coerce me into learning stuff. Yet due to the lack of a repeat button on my Walkman – and probably a little karma – my Paleozoic-era MP3 player bit the dust mid-“Express Yourself.” But thank you mom for making sure I was the only kid in the 5th grade who knew Benjamin Franklin was not a former President of the United States. Kids today are so lucky.
Mingling with the Locals: Unless the locals follow your Tumblr this probably won’t happen… you win some you lose some.
Postcard Sending: Instagram shares your best vacation shots with family, friends – and even the fun people you don’t know who follow you on Twitter – all with one touch of the screen.
Souvenir Shopping: Rather than lug home the hefty hardcover coffee table book on the Battle of Bunker Hill, a quick shopping excursion on the Amazon app can have the ten dollar cheaper version delivered to your home by the time your flight lands.
While in one brief moment I envied the more traditional tourists with their ten pound cameras and newly acquired Sam Adams beer visors being escorted through town atop a really cool haunted trolley, I felt luckier to be done with my touring and have a drink in hand instead.
What’s your best “old-school” vacation?