There’s plenty of talk about the Golden Age of travel and how miserable flying is these days. Air travel can take note from the past in plenty of ways, but let these 10 little things from the Independent Traveler serve as a reminder why we’d never actually want to go back in time
1. The demise of paper tickets
It’s enough to redeem the modern travel experience all together: no longer do travelers need to remember to bring their tickets to the airport nor take extra care not to lose their return tickets in a mid-trip frenzy. Especially since replacing a lost ticket overseas was quite the ordeal, thank the lucky stars that you don’t even have to worry about it.
2. Travel is more affordable
Some routes were insanely expensive under regulation, since the government set prices to ensure that airlines were guaranteed a profit on all routes. Although the high prices made the meals, silverware and free booze possible – the profit margins were so high that the airlines could afford to give alcohol away, and only a select few could afford to fly.
3. The birth of rolling suitcases
Sure, old fashioned hard-cased luggage is attractive and chic. But, man, are those things heavy. Rolling suitcases were made for modern-day mobility and are especially useful if you’re lugging a lot of stuff (or need a free hand to lug kids around).
4. No smoking
The idea of a designated smoking section on a plane is almost incomprehensible these days. After the term “second-hand smoke” became common in the 90s, and the harms of third-hand smoke being explored today, travelers can breathe a sigh of relief for the modern no-smoking rules in airports and planes.
5. No dress code
People often long for the nostalgia when flying was a beautiful event, but who wants to dress to the nines to sit in an uncomfortable seat for hours on end? While no want wants to sit next to someone in a bathing suit or daisy-duke shorts, it’s nice to wear leisure clothes for an experience that’s often harried, stressful and anything but leisurely.
Now that people are aware of how dehydrating flying is, they’re generally not throwing drinks back before and during the flight. Considering how seats and rows are steadily shrinking with time, this is a good thing. No one wants to be in close quarters with someone who is half in the bag.
7. More choices, more airports
Flyers have much more to choose from in routes, destinations, flight times, connecting cities and airlines than a few decades ago. The number of alternate airports served by airlines flying commercial jets has greatly increased also. This lets travelers escape the most heavily trafficked airports and put them closer to their preferred destinations. But, mergers between large airlines have been threatening this trend lately.
8. No more stopping for directions
Mapping applications have been ubiquitous and accurate for only a few years, but it’s hard to imagine getting around without them these days. Stopping at a gas station for directions, or asking someone raking leaves in their front yard, was pretty much the only option for finding your way.
Mapping applications are a modern miracle, and travelers may miss out on some quirky experiences by always staying on path. But, it’s a small price to pay for not getting lost every few hours, which was pretty much a common experience for travelers not too long ago.
9. A cornucopia of information
The amount and variety of information available to travelers today was unfathomable before the Internet became widely available. Print guidebooks were the norm, and they’re outdated quickly. These days, you can find out which rooms are the best in any given hotel, the nearest coffee shop, which aircraft seats recline and which don’t, whether parking garages are full, exact monetary exchange rates and heaps more. Think about how much headache, backache and heartache this saves you on every single trip.
There’s no reason to be nostalgic for the days of finding banks and currency exchange desks to get local currency. Somehow, you had to have enough cash to last your entire trip, as getting money wired to you was not for amateurs or travelers on the move. Typically, this was in the form of traveler’s checks, which no one probably misses either.
Now you can get local currency pretty much within steps of the spot you enter the country, whether by air, train or boat, and they typically have the best available exchange rates. This saves several hours over a course of a trip.
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