Travelling has certainly changed in the years I have been moving round the world.
- I’ll never protect my airline ticket with my life. Airline tickets used to be as valuable as your passport and they were difficult to replace if you lost them. You couldn’t just log onto a computer to get another copy. Each flight sector had a separate voucher and carbon copy which were pulled off when you checked in. If you were doing a lot of flights you were almost carrying a book with you.
- I’ll never request a non-smoking seat. When I first started travelling you could smoke on planes. Not being a smoker I would request a non-smoking seat however the smoke didn’t seem to respect the demarcation line. I was shocked to discover that planes were not all smoke free until the late 1990’s. Flying is now much more pleasant and there is no need to request that non-smoking seat.
- I’ll never regularly queue at a foreign bank. Gone are the days when you queued at the bank to cash in your travellers cheques. For those that don’t know, this was how you carried your money. You obtained your travellers cheques before you left to travel and signed each one of them in the bank. You then went to the foreign bank when you were overseas to exchange them for local currency, signing them again in front of the teller. It was a challenge to work out how much money you’d need for a trip and obtaining extra funds was expensive and time consuming, but at least you didn’t run up a credit card debt.
- I’ll never restrict the number of photos I take. Film used to come in 12, 24 or 36 rolls and depending on where you were travelling it could be difficult to obtain, and even more difficult to develop. You also had to choose the type of print you wanted when you bought the film – slides, colour or black and white. In the digital age we always take that extra photo, just in case, it’s so easy to delete those 100’s of unneeded photos, but often we don’t. I’ll just keep clicking away.
- I’ll never load my luggage with a pile of books. I am a fan of the mini ipad to read on. I love that no matter where I am in the world I can download an ebook or an audiobook from my local Brisbane library, or buy one. Though I do live in fear of a flat battery and a long flight with no reading material.
- Sadly, I’ll never swap books with a stranger again. Depending on where you were travelling getting your hands on an English book you hadn’t read was like finding gold. My reading repertoire expanded extensively in this way as I would read whatever was available. I remember obtaining Freedom at Midnight through swapping a book with a fellow traveller in India. This powerful book described events in the India independence movement and ended with the death of Mahatma Ghandi. What a wonderful way to get an education, reading that as I travelled by train through India. Digital reading has stopped this sharing, I don’t even know what Steven is reading.
- I’ll never loiter outside a post office. Before emails, Facebook and Skype the only way to stay in contact while travelling was through the occasional long distant phone call or treasured letter from home. Family sent letters “poste restante” to a city that you anticipated you would travel to. Mail would be held for a month and you needed to show your passport to collect it. Long distant phone calls would also be made from the post offices. In those days the post offices of major cities were hubs of emotion as you lined up either to be delighted at receiving a letter or devastatingly disappointed by no mail.
- I’ll never write an aerogramme. An aerogramme was a thin, lightweight, blue piece of pre-folded and gummed paper for writing a letter. The letter and the envelope were one in the same and it was much cheaper to send this than a regular letter. I have a treasury of aerograms and letters that Steven and I exchanged when he went travelling not long after we met. I wonder if we will re-read digital love emails in the same way.
What have I missed? What will you never do again while travelling?