Thanks to a partnership between Meta and Ray-Ban, a new pair of super specs means you can now take family and friends on holiday with you. In fact, they will see everything you do – with you as a commentator.

The company which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has integrated hands-free video calling through WhatsApp and Messenger and video-enabled through the lenses of the glasses. They are built with an ultra-wide 12-megapixel camera, speakers and five microphones, allowing users to take photos and videos that are automatically saved to their connected smartphones. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) will answer questions about what the user can see. Oh, and if you’re not sure what you are looking at on the short walk to the Colosseum, the glasses can give you the answer in text or audio.

If you’re in Rome at a café with only Italian menus, the glasses can translate the name of your favourite pasta dish. Or make a recommendation.

Not science fiction – super specs are here now

In case you think this is all a bit like a science-fiction movie, these super specs can be bought right now for $489 at Just Sunnies. It’s all a long way from the Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone.

Welcome to the new world of travel, where today’s global adventurer is armed with an arsenal of digital tools that transform every stage of the journey, from planning and booking to experiencing a destination.

Want to plan a family holiday or tour with a group of friends? Google’s Gemini can map out a customised itinerary, allowing for your personal preferences and whether any member of your party has special needs such as accessibility. Need to change the dates? No problem – it will reschedule everything and check availability.

Your local travel agent now has AI-powered booking engines such as Kayak and Skyscanner, which can analyse massive datasets of flights, hotels and attractions. They personalise search results based on your preferences, past travel behaviour and budget, suggesting hidden deals and creating itineraries optimised for your travel style.

A woman admiring a virtual reality artwork.

You don’t even have to type out commands. Voice-search helpers such as Google Assistant and Siri allow travellers to search for flights, hotels and activities using natural-language commands. Chatbots powered by AI are also changing the game, offering 24/7 virtual travel concierge services. From answering questions about visa requirements to booking last-minute tours, chatbots can provide seamless, personalised assistance.

And the planning process has become much more precise – and fun. Imagine exploring the Colosseum in Rome or scaling the Great Wall of China before you even leave your home. AR and VR technologies are blurring the lines between reality and travel. AR apps such as Google Lens can overlay real-time information on landmarks at which you point your phone, translating signs and providing historical context. VR experiences allow you to virtually explore destinations, giving you a taste of the sights and sounds before you commit to a trip.

Smartphones have become the ultimate travel companion. Apps such as TripIt consolidate all your travel bookings (flights, hotels, tours) in one place, providing effortless itinerary management. Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay facilitate secure and contactless payments around the world, eliminating the need to carry cash or worry about currency exchange.

Platforms such as Airbnb and Uber offer a more affordable and authentic way to experience new destinations. Airbnb connects travellers with unique and often budget-friendly accommodation options, while Uber provides convenient and reliable transportation in cities across the globe.

Of course, if you’re signed up as a member of the digital-detox travel tribe, then all of this is definitely not your cup of tea. But for the rest of us, it’s a whole new trouble-free world.

Our personal favourite tech

These breakthroughs represent the tip of the technological iceberg reshaping travel. Here are some new tech gadgets we are using.

Smart luggage

Luggage is no longer a passive bystander. Smart suitcases with built-in GPS tracking and self-weighing capabilities provide peace of mind and prevent lost baggage woes.

AI-powered language translation

Language barriers are a thing of the past with AI translators such as Google Translate. These tools enable real-time conversation and menu deciphering, making communication in unfamiliar destinations a breeze.

Travel apps for every need

There’s an app for everything these days, and travel is no exception. From currency converters and restaurant-reservation apps to city guides that curate must-see sights based on your location, your app store offers solutions for every travel need.

Wearable tech

Fitness trackers like Fitbits can double as pedometers while exploring new cities, while smartwatches with built-in GPS maps can help you navigate unfamiliar streets.