Remember the ‘bad old days’ of travel? For even a visit to one country you had to carry at least one guide book, a map, a phrase book and your own personal reading material. Hotel and transportation reservations had to be made by phone or in person, by landline or even payphone (remember those?). The internet and smart phones have made, literally, a world of difference.
One of the things I love most about travel is meeting new people and making connections across nationality, class, and culture lines. My lack of Southeast Asian languages makes this challenging. The Google Translate app makes things somewhat easier. We were able to have a nice chat with these school girls in Hue, Vietnam using the app. They had a translation app too and were able to ask us questions about our visit to Vietnam and our life in America. On the 4 hour bus trip to Phong Nha Cave we had a great conversation with two gentlemen. Between their pretty good English and the Google app we were able to talk about Buddhism in Vietnam and America, novels we all had read (Roots, Grapes of Wrath) and the reasons behind and devastation of war. I highly recommend this app, especially because it not only gives you a written translation but a verbal one. This is especially helpful in Vietnam where tonality and inflection are extremely important. Check out the app at
We love traveling and technology really makes a difference. I look forward to sharing more next week on our favorites and would love to hear from you on yours.