Travel Tech That Rocks


By Jess Goulart

Photo courtesy of Nan Palmero.

Being a nerd is cool. You can wear horn-rimmed glasses un-ironically, always know more than your friends, and hack your Facebook to display status updates upside down (that one is easy, follow this link).

Plus, computer programming is currently one of the highest paid positions in the world. That’s rightly so, because nerds invent technology essential to the human condition–like a coffee table that doubles as a fireplace or a birthday card that never stops singing.

People need these gadgets to live fulfilling lives. Okay, need is a strong word, but want? Certainly.

In much the same way, new nerd-generated devices are changing the way we see the world. Here are five technologies that have irrevocably shaped travel.

Light Therapy

No, you don’t have the flu, Ebola, or a hangover (well, maybe that last one), you’re jet-lagged. It’s not deadly, but it’s not fun.

Jet lag happens because the body is timed to the cycle of the sun in what’s called a circadian rhythm. When shifting time zones, that rhythm gets disturbed, causing travelers to find themselves wide awake during the night and unable to keep their eyes open during the day.

Apart from a general feeling of being cracked out, jet lag can cause nausea, headaches, even memory loss.

For those who are only in a destination for a few days and want to spend that time dancing on bars and Tindering locals, that’s where a little device called the Luminette comes in handy.

The Luminette is a pair of glasses that offers light therapy. The device allows the equivalent of sunlight to pump into the wearer’s eyes, helping the body to adjust to the new time zone quicker.

The glasses aren’t cheap, but the energy to find Fireball your first night in a new city? Priceless.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Quintano.


Periscope is the brand spanking new app from Twitter that came out just over a month ago. The app allows users to “see the world through someone else’s eyes” by letting them live stream video from their phones to, basically, anyone interested in watching.

By offering a first hand glimpse into the lives of strangers, Periscope is a tangible way to dissolve any fears or stereotypes individuals might harbor about foreign cultures.

Just five days after its launch the travel company Skyscanner collaborated with 24 popular bloggers to showcase the destinations they were writing about, in the hopes of inspiring others to travel.

Interested? Check out the (fascinating) campaign using the hashtag #24hPeriscope.

In-flight WiFi

Finally, right?

Whether you’re trying to stay in touch with family, share your adventures on social media, or simply be distracted from the discomfort of flying, there’s little that frustrates a traveler as much as the world’s lack of in-flight WiFi.

After all, Instagram isn’t going to post #YOLO pics by itself.

Luckily, throughout the past year dozens of airlines started offering the service. Not so luckily, only eight of them to date are offering it for free. The service’s speed and reliability still need major upgrading, but it’s a start.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley.

Google Maps

Unless you are actually an alien (as in, from outer space) living in disguise on our planet, with but a cursory understanding of humanity, you already know it, use it, and love it.

But let’s take a trip down memory lane to the dark ages of 10 years ago, when travelers did not have automated voices that told them exactly where to go in an unknown town.

There were missed trains, lost hours, and utterings of all curse words. Finally, two Danish nerds created a C++ program in 2004 that eventually evolved into the Maps platform used today, colossally changing the way people navigate new places.

Now the tech is getting even cooler by expanding into places people wouldn’t typically be able to visit–like the bottom of the Loch Ness in Scotland. Using Google Maps’ “Street View” allows users to search for the legendary monster rumored to live in the lake’s murky depths.

Juant’s Cinematic Virtual Reality

The key word here is “cinematic,” because this kind of virtual reality (VR) engages more than only your eyes.

“What we mean by ‘cinematic’ is it has three elements; the freedom to look in a complete sphere, no matter where you look you see true 3-D stereoscopic vision, and the third part is the audio component.” Scott Broock, content VP at the wildly successful virtual reality company Jaunt, tells BTR.

Broock continues that the visual part of VR is important, but the audio component is equally essential for delivering a true-life imitation.

Experiencing Jaunt’s VR doesn’t require a movie theater or a million dollars. The company rolled out an app in November that allows the public to test their tech with just an Android phone and a Google Cardboard viewer (a device where a phone can mounts).

Users can find the viewer on Amazon (and the like) for under five bucks, download the app from Google Play, and boom! Cinematic VR will transport anyone to a rock climbing adventure with world class North Face athletes, the fashion savvy streets of California, or an on-stage seat at a Paul McCartney performance.

So there you have it, five nerdy travel wins! The best part? With innovative tech cropping up at breakneck speeds, countless more developments are waiting in the wings.