Travelling 20 Years Ago compared to 2017

I was just a toddler back in the ’90s but asking my parents what it was like years ago before all the high-tech gadgets, they say it was a much simpler time where everyone just lived in the moment and did not spend hours flicking through social media or filming a whole concert to share later. The ‘90s were a time when the internet was only just beginning to gain traction with the invention of the World Wide Web and the popular social networking platforms Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Snapchat were not a major part of everyone’s lives. There were no browsers and search engines or mobile phones and laptops until later in the decade. It makes me think of how different travel would have been without the technology that we have today.

What it was like to travel 20 years ago

Earlier in the ‘90s the beginning of the travel experience meant either relying on friends recommendations or visiting a travel agent to find out the best place to stay or the best sites to see. As suggested by Heather Magee for Huffington Post, she relied on friends who had travelled to her intended destination for recommendations instead of searching for reviews via TripAdvisor or other travel blogs. All flight and hotel bookings were made via phone calls or through a travel agent.

To backpack 20 years ago meant arriving at a destination with little to no plans and either conversing with the locals or using trial and error to discover the best places to eat at or sites to see. As ReachToTeach  expresses, technology is in a way taking away the adventure of travel as backpackers arrive with knowledge of the popular places to see and the attractions to miss without experiencing anything for them self.

Photo By: Tijmen van Dobbenburg on

Even finding tourist sites to visit were achieved by reading a map and asking locals for directions which according to WildJunket, lead to many adventures and funny stories that will be remembered forever.

Even capturing moments in the 90s were a lot different with instant cameras and rolls of film or expensive camcorders that not everyone had access to. The only way to see the photos was to visit the local chemist or Kmart to send them away to be developed.

Travelling in 2017

As stated by NomadicMatt, even though the ’90s were a simpler time, technology has made it easier to not only get lost but also find your way. The innovation and development of technology has completely changed the way we travel from booking flights and holidays to capturing sights and experiences to communicating with the locals.

Nowadays when researching a possible destination TripAdvisor and other travel blogs are the go-to source for recommendations and reviews in place of a visit to the travel agent. Booking flights, accommodation and activities are all completed online. Even face-to-face interactions at airports are limited with check-ins available online, e-passport readers and access to boarding passes on mobile according to The Guardian.

Apps for smartphones have been developed to act as tour guide such as the Tram Sightseeing App by Vasttrafik in Sweden’s Gothenburg city that directs users to the nearest tram station and a voice that provides a history of the city’s sites as they are passed by as seen in the video below.

Other Apps include the Roadside America App that finds offbeat attractions nearby and provides maps, directions, photos and tips and Google Maps that can be used anywhere that has Wi-Fi, although very useful, takes away the sense of adventure from following a paper map.

Furthermore, communicating with the locals whom speak a foreign language when travelling is about to be made easier with a gadget developed and yet to be released by Waverly Labs called the ‘Language Pilot’. According to Daily Mail Australia, the ‘Pilot’ consists of two earpieces worn by two people who speak different languages and uses an app to translate the foreign language to each other. Imagine just how much simpler it will be in the future to ask for directions or have a conversation with a local speaking a different language when travelling.

The travel experience has changed dramatically in 20 years with the innovation and development of technology in the planning, booking and experiencing stages of travel.

What do you think of how much travel has changed with technology? Is it a good thing?