Technology is enabling free independent travel

Free independent travel means you aren't restricted by pre-planned itineraries. Be the ruler of your own destination. Source: Shutterstock.com

THE days of organized group tour holidays might be a thing of the past, thanks to modern technology enabling digitally connected travelers to explore the globe independently.

It has long been a tricky science trying to getting the right tour guide formula. Often, guided tours either rush you through a culturally significant site or make you hang around, even after you’ve read every piece of information and taken numerous photos. And of course, there is always that one person who assumes their time is more precious than yours and expect you all to wait while they haggle for a fridge magnet in the market.

Fortunately, however, free independent travel (FIT) is on the rise thanks to the modern advancement of digital technology, allowing even the not-so-tech-savvy to find the best a place has to offer, through the medium of apps and search engines.

The simplest way to get connected while abroad is by purchasing a local SIM card and connecting to WIFI. From here FIT travelers can access booking apps, recommendation sites and free guides, which certainly eliminate the need for a flag-waving tour guide.

Some of the best itinerary planning apps for FIT travelers include Tripit and Google Trips. Instead of carrying around a folder of tatty print-outs, you can organize all your bookings and reservations in one simple place.

Booking sites such as Hopper and Airbnb are also being preferred to traditional methods of reserving flights and accommodation.

Hopper is a flight booking app that differs from Skyscanner, as it not only provides you with the best deals but also tells you the optimal time to book flights. While Airbnb is undoubtedly shaping a new kind of tourism, it is also encouraging a sharing market which incorporates smaller business and puts once forgotten destinations back on the map.

Travelers nowadays seek a unique experience, something different from the pre-planned schedules of tour operators. FIT travelers can be the curators of their own holiday’s thanks to digital technology. Choosing to spend a morning volunteering at a turtle sanctuary, followed by an afternoon in a vineyard, for example.

Even ordering a souvenir online and having it delivered to your holiday rental or home address is doable.

As technology advances, so do the lives of millennials. Hopefully, this technologically-savvy generation will start to see an increase in disposable income, and be able to travel more often. This will eventually lead to the FIT way of traveling becoming the social norm.