US Not Travel Tech Leader

In Canada Google starts in French

Many lightly traveled Americans believe the U.S. is the most technologically advanced place in the world. This is definitely not true. For example, I have found that both Japan and Canada are light-years ahead of us. In both places, you never need to change currency because in both places you are able to use credit cards for everything, and I mean everything. In Japan, I bought a $2 hot dog from a street vendor with a credit card! Transactions are conducted on a portable device, so your credit card never leaves your sight.

When planning a trip to one of these tech savvy places, bring a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Sam’s card is an excellent general-purpose card that does not charge, and it gives you a three percent rebate on travel-related charges.

My cell phone service provider, Verizon, provides coverage in Canada in its network. The problem, however, is that even though I was supposedly in network in Canada, I was never able to log on to check my email with simply the cellphone service I had. I needed to find Wi-Fi service to do that. In other words, while I was able to receive phone calls and get text messages, the data service was not good.

If you plan to use Uber or Lyft, you need to have data connectivity because it is required for those systems to locate you. To arrange an Uber or Lyft car, I needed to be in a Wi-Fi zone, which is NOT usually the case when you are calling for a car. This made arranging for a pick up highly inconvenient. I’d have to find a Wi-Fi area to place the order, then hope that the driver could find me on the street because my location was not visible to him or her once I left the Wi-Fi area. In fact, each time I used these services, I ended up having to call the driver from the street to find them. One driver drove a Tesla!

Next complication involved the Airbnb apartment I booked. The host said that the check-in procedure was available online. Only problem is I couldn’t get online to see the check in procedure. Once I finally found the apartment using a little guess work, I still needed to hunt down a Wi-Fi location somewhere close by to get the Internet logon password. Plan for your host to text you what you need in advance; don’t count on Internet service on your cellphone.

Finally, someone sent me an attachment that wouldn’t open because the attachment was hosted on a site that the Canadian system did not default to. When in Canada, if you ask for Yahoo, for example, you get the Canadian version of Yahoo, not the same version you see in the U.S. So when the sender assumed I would get an attachment with a Yahoo address, she assumed I would be logged on to my normal U.S. Yahoo. In Canada, I just got an error message.

Oh, the little things about technology that make your hair stand on edge! Try to anticipate these in advance. Better yet, don’t rely on technology as your only means of operating while abroad. Frequently, your technology that works fine in the U.S. won’t work so well abroad, even if you are traveling in a country that is highly sophisticated technologically. Make your cellphone screenshot your best friend. When you do have access to the Internet, shoot pictures of pages you may need later when Internet service may not be available. This works particularly well with airplane boarding passes!