Although technology cannot (as yet) eradicate crippling food poisoning or comically awkward cultural exchanges, there's little doubt that travel gets easier with the advent of every new app.
Smartphones make it simpler to find obscure backstreet restaurants or order cabs in Ulaanbaatar.
Nevertheless, the relentless march of progress hasn't been without a few regrettable victims.
Several much loved travel stalwarts are falling out of favor thanks to technology and other factors.
The following 10 are some of our most loved travel items that are slowly being replaced by modern innovations.
A telling sign of a much loved item's near obsolescence is when a campaign is launched to save it.
One survey last year found that while 60% of people texted friends and family back home when on vacation, only 16% sent postcards.
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that postcards are out of favor.
"The overall, overwhelming consensus is that postcard sales are down dramatically," Matthew Tobin, president of the U.S. Souvenir Wholesale Distributors Association and executive vice president of Arts & Cards, told the Providence Journal earlier this year. "It's probably half what it used to be." Postcards were born in the UK, in the Victorian era, and allowed vividly colored images to be sent and received for the first time.
They've had a roller coaster ride since then, with 4.5 billion postcards delivered in the United States in 1951, falling to 1.8 billion in 1980, rising again to 3.3 billion in 1990 and plummeting again to 1.4 billion in 2010. The United States Postal Service forecasts around 1 billion single-piece cards will be sent in the U.S. in 2013.
Those numbers include non-personal postcards, such as dentist appointment reminders and advertising fliers.
2. Slide shows
Vacation slide shows were once the cultural after-dinner mint of the suburban dinner party.
Of course that dinner party might have been microwaved nouvelle cuisine and the slide show held in a "den" tastefully decorated in salmon pink and dove gray.
But there was something far cozier about sharing photos with people in physical proximity than with a collection of avatars and Facebook accounts.
In 2012, slide film became another victim in Kodak's sad fall from favor.
The world's once biggest manufacturer of film and slides recently emerged from bankruptcy, having shed most of its film businesses to focus on digital photography and printing.
The reason, it said, was lack of demand.
Which means those Kodak moments once projected fuzzily onto your grandpa's living room wall -- there's Mom cooking dinner outside the tent; click; there's cousin Hannah setting the split-log picnic table -- are now most often enjoyed on a 2x2-inch digital screen.
If the traditional guidebook really is in its death throes, 2013 may come to be seen as its Waterloo.
If only this book could upload photos.
In March, after BBC Worldwide unloaded Lonely Planet for $120 million less than it paid for the brand in 2007, some began to look closely at the bigger picture.
In 2007, combined U.S. sales from the big five travel publishers that represent more than 80% of the market (Frommer's, Dorling Kindersley, Lonely Planet, Fodor's, Avalon's Moon/Rick Steves) were just more than $125 million, according to Stephen Mesquita's "World Travel Guides Market" report for Nielsen BookScan.
By 2012, combined sales had dropped nearly 40% to $78 million.
The demise of the unwieldy travel tome won't be mourned by those who feel they send everyone to the same hotels/restaurants/sights.
As well as being cumbersome they become quickly dated.
Try using "Lonely Planet: China 2010" to make your way around and you'll see what we mean.
Yet we'll miss certain things about the humble guidebook.
Few things whet the appetite for a trip like a potted political history, culinary glossaries, maps, pictures and descriptions.
Not only that, but in all their seawater-splashed, curry-stained, beat-up glory, they help recall your travels in a way smartphones never will.
4. Internet cafes
Once an invaluable portal linking home with abroad, the Internet cafe is a victim of the inexorable march of wireless connectivity.
Until just a few years back, many travelers would spend at least an hour a day trying to work out the vagaries and quirks of a foreign keyboard while tapping out missives to friends and family.
These days, however, laptops, tablets and the resulting Facebook and Instagram feeds have become an integral part of the travel experience.
The upshot has been the documented closure of Internet cafes in a number of countries, including Morocco, India, China and the UK.
Increased competition between Internet service providers in travel hotspots such as Vietnam and Thailand means finding a Wi-Fi connection is as simple as hunting down a bowl of noodles.
5. Alarm clocks (analog)
Travel alarm clocks were once simple things.
A clock inside a fold-up case that beeped or buzzed a few times then shut up, leaving sleepers to awaken only when the midday power cut knocked out the one-speed fan.
Now, of course, there's an app that won't stop announcing the day's itinerary.
Those compact clocks that clam-shell to the size of a bar of soap are missed.
Because if nothing else you could at least ignore them.
6. Fold-out maps
With their carefully cartographed hills, cartoon monuments and indecipherable symbols -- is that a toilet or a flower vendor? -- fold-out maps have a pirates' treasure feel to them.
The best way to get that tourist look.
But that's not enough to keep them on top.
For better or worse, the days of fighting with a flapping map by the side of a road in a force seven gale are becoming less common.
7. Travelers' checks
The simplicity and ubiquity of the ATM are helping put an end to those awkward conversations with foreign merchants about where you can exchange travelers' checks for real money.
That said, $3.6 billion isn't chump change.
Banks still sell them, as does American Express. Many hotels still accept them.
And if you're interested in currency speculation you may even make a few extra cents from their fixed-at-the-time-of-purchase exchange rate.
8. Photo albums
9. Airline first class
The "decline of first class" has been making headlines since 1986 -- but it's only since the global financial crisis in 2008 that belt-tightening by airlines has been serious enough to make a world without first-class air travel seem plausible.
First to go during the crunch.
First class is still available, and it's still a totem of sky-borne indulgence, with prices that often top $15,000 per person for a long-haul trip.
But frequent travelers, and more importantly their bosses and accountants, seem to be more often willing to "downgrade" to business class.
10. Traditional steamer trunks
Nobody but the most vintage-fixated contrarian would deny that improvements in baggage have improved the travel experience.
But it's clear that something is being lost in the march toward a streamlined, easily wheeled future.
But with top-end models tailor-made by LV today going for up to $30,000 apiece, it's little wonder most travelers opt for lighter, cheaper, wheelier versions. ("Why bother with wheels when you have servants?" the trunk crowd may be heard mumbling.)
There's no convincing data on steamer trunk sales available, but these once essential travel boxes are feeling more and more like a relic of a bygone era.
Which is a shame -- an old school travel trunk was emblematic of the traditional "grand tour."
Plastered with stickers from the French Riviera to the Orient, travel trunks may have been tough to carry, but they were undeniably raffish and an integral symbol of a time when the romance of travel was at its peak and the world seemed more alive with mystery and possibility.
What old-school travel items do you miss? Tell us below.