The Inventions That Ruined Travel – and the Ones We Really Need

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by Oliver Smith, The Telegraph, November 28, 2017

Telegraph Travel is feeling grumpy today. Perhaps it's the cold weather. A theraputic moan seems to be the only solution...

1. Beer bikes

Amsterdam city council finally saw the light this month and banned these ludicrous inventions. Quite right too. Who in their right mind thinks putting a dozen drunkards in charge of a large pedal-powered vehicle, and then setting it free on the traffic-clogged roads of a city centre, is a fine idea?

Nobody at Telegraph Travel has been on one of these contraptions (because we're sensible journalists who prefer to spend our city breaks absorbing art and fine wine), but we've glimpsed more than a few trundling by. The faces of those on board always seem tinged with shame and regret. Why did I pay good money to sit in a traffic jam? Must we play that irritatingly upbeat music so loudly? What am I doing with my life?

Amsterdam - belatedly - banned the beer bike (or bierfet, which was invented in the Netherlands in 1997) after complaints from residents. They labelled it a "terrible phenomenon" that encourages yelling, public urination and general disruption to their daily lives. But the ban only applies to the city centre. Head to the outskirts and the scourge of the bierfet lives on! Ban it everywhere, we say. 

2. Segways

How did the Segway city tour become a thing? Why would you want to bomb around in such a conspicuous manner on what is essentially a mobility scooter? They are the transport equivalent of a bum bag, guaranteed to make you look like a foolish tourist.

3. Paddleboards

Like a segway on water; just stupid. Even if Bill Bailey is a big fan

At a glance | The travel inventions we really need

4. Selfie sticks

Little needs to be said about this narcissistic weapon of Satan. They have tarnished the experience of visiting every major attraction in the world, with their only redeeming feature being that their pouting owners make normal people feel pleasantly superior.   

5. Waxworks

The cheapest adult ticket for Madame Tussauds, a horrendous temple to vacuous celebrities, is £29. If you don’t think that’s a waste of money then consider this: you can currently fly to Barcelona and back with Ryanair for less than £20. And the National Portrait Gallery, where you can see the marble likenesses of people worth celebrating, is free.

Are these the worst inventions of all time? Inside Sweden's Museum of Failure

6. Wi-Fi

There are far wider issues at play here. Social media, smartphones, digital cameras, the constant need for connectivity… For many people, travel is now all about documenting and bragging – not experiencing.

The 30-somethings on our desk miss the heady days of the internet cafe, while the 40-somethings long for the renaissance of the postcard, but all of us are depressed by the fact that many people’s first question when arriving at a new hotel concerns not the local attractions or last orders at the bar, but the Wi-Fi code.

7. Trunki suitcases

These “ride-on” suitcases encourage a horrendously lazy attitude towards travel. And while children are supposed to power themselves, 99 per cent are too lazy to do so, forcing their parents to break their backs while pulling them around.

8. Hotel key cards

They stop working, normally at 2am when you’re in no fit state to ask for assistance from the night porter. Proper keys don’t.

At a glance | A few more things we hate about hotels

9. Tiny tourist trains

Fancy exploring a city on foot and discovering a few hidden corners? Or would you rather sit grim-faced in a cramped trailer, attached to a car disguised as a train, and pulled around with a bunch of other glum tourists?

10. GPS

Bring back the art of getting lost.

11. “Smart” lighting

We want on/off switches (or in exceptional circumstances a simple dimmer) located by the door or beside the bed. No “sexy” mood lighting that can’t be fathomed without a degree in codebreaking. The same goes for the bathroom taps – don’t overcomplicate.

12. Luggage wrapping machines

What a pointless and eco-unfriendly waste of time.

13. Wheelie suitcase of every conceivable shape and size

Carry your blasted bag.

14. Google Translate

Learn some of the language – or have fun trying. Don’t just wave your iPhone at that poor Portuguese grocer.


This article was written by Oliver Smith from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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