This Is How 20-Somethings Traveled 30 Years Ago

India | Sally Pierce / Culture Trip
India | Sally Pierce / Culture Trip
Over the years, travel has become easier, countries more accessible and flights more affordable. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of passengers flying per year has increased by 1.51 billion in the last ten years alone! What else has changed over the last three decades?

The media

Thanks to the internet, we have a vast array of information at the tip of our fingers. According to Social Media Today, teens spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, and thus, millenials begin to lust after exciting adventures. In the past, however, it was more a case of knowing you wanted to go somewhere, whether inspired by word of mouth, travel adverts in newspapers, books or TV documentaries and films.

China Sally Pierce / © Culture Trip

Tracking your finances

While 30 years ago you may have had access to a credit card or travelers’ cheques, the opening hours and queues in banks made the job quite tiresome. In addition, if you were travelling in Europe, the French had francs and the Italians liras. Now, currency cards like Caxton, Monzo or Revolut help you avoid extortionate bank fees, allowing you to track your spending online, book in advance and transfer money easily.

Word of mouth & travel guides

In the past, contacting friends and relatives in advance was common, so you could make arrangements. However, from time to time, you wouldn’t be able to reach each other, making it necessary to rely on recommendations from your guidebook, directions from locals or maps. Now, it’s much more efficient to pre-download maps like or Google Maps, as well as the option of roaming services on your phone or buying a foreign SIM card.

Nepal & Burma Sally Pierce / © Culture Trip

Booking accommodation

Without the ease of booking accommodation on smartphones or on the previous hostel’s wi-fi, 30 years ago it was more a case of delving into your travel guides (which other travelers would beg to use), rocking up at a hostel and hoping there was a spare bed. If not, on to the next one!


With Kindles, Netflix, Spotify, iPads and smartphones, we have plenty of things to keep us entertained on long bus or train journeys, yet still complain about how bored we are. Want to try traveling in the good old days? You really would have been short of entertainment when you finished your book or ran out of things to talk about with the person sitting next to you!

Kenya Sally Pierce / © Culture Trip


Want to keep in touch with all your friends and family on the other side of the world? Yes, it was possible, but the availability and cost made it a rarity. It was possible to use a telex, which would send a written message to someone else who owned a telex. Otherwise letters and postcards were the main source of contact, sometimes taking weeks to arrive, if at all! There was no pinging an instantaneous message to someone over one of the many social media platforms we have now. The cliché, “getting away from it all” used to mean exactly that. If and when you encountered a problem, you had to sort it out yourself!

The best surprise of all!

If you have managed to keep all your film intact, once you’d returned home, you would have the delight of reliving all your wonderful experiences again as you flicked through your pictures. As long as they had all come out properly, which was a risk!

Puri, India Sally Pierce / © Culture Trip

In hindsight, we are extremely fortunate to be able to research and book everything with such ease. However, we have lost a little of the magic of really being on the other side of the world, out on a limb and having to wing it. Thus, having a real authentic experience due to the situations you get thrown into and the people you meet along the way. That’s not to say all travelers are glued to their phones, but maybe next time you’re traveling, see if you can live without your smartphone for a week! Good Luck!

Courmayeur Sally Pierce / © Culture Trip