30 Years of Travel | Posted: 19 November 2014
In the past you waited ages for postcards to arrive; now you can check social media feeds
The launch of Eurostar has been one of the major advancement of the last 30 years
Holdiay memories from a more innocent time...

As Inntravel celebrates its 30th birthday this year, we thought we’d cast our minds back to those exciting early days when it all started, reflecting on how the experience of travel has changed in three short decades…

When Inntravel was born in 1984, the very first mobile phone was purchased for a cool $4,000, and the World Wide Web was a mere gleam in the eye of a young Tim Berners-Lee. When people went on holiday, they really did ‘get away from it all’. Inntravel’s Italian Consultant Carla Lenzi recalls her first solo visit to the UK: “I was 19 and went to a school to improve my English. I phoned my family to say I had arrived, but no further phone calls followed. Then one day I arrived at school to find a message on the blackboard saying, “Carla Lenzi, call your mother.” My mum, who did not speak a word of English, had managed to find someone at school speaking Italian (the canteen cook) to contact me. Now, my daughter is studying at the University in Berlin and I can reach her whenever I wish and I can even see her via Skype. How much freer we were 30 years ago!”

Technology has revolutionised travel – thanks to TripAdvisor and Google Earth, we know what to expect when we arrive at a hotel, and satnav has all but eliminated heated arguments in the car while driving in circles around an unfamiliar city (OK, maybe ‘eliminated’ is a little optimistic). We no longer wait weeks for a postcard to land on our doormat, instead spending our lunchtimes scrolling enviously through friends’ Facebook photos of breathtaking views and poolside cocktails. Armed with digital cameras and iPhones, we can delete that blurry sunset and get the perfect snapshot, but we’ve lost the anticipation of waiting for our holiday photos to be developed, collecting them from Boots and flicking through them as the memories come flooding back.

The way we travel has also changed dramatically. The Entente Cordiale between Britain and France reached new heights with the opening of the Channel Tunnel 20 years ago. Family holidays to the Continent with fractious children in the back of the car became slightly more bearable, while ‘booze cruises’ proliferated as opportunistic Brits hopped across the Channel to stock up on cheap wine.

Celebrating 30 years of Inntravel

Discovery Day 2014

Join us at the Harrogate International Centre in North Yorkshire on Saturday 6 December 2014 as we celebrate our 30th anniversary. Usually held every three years, Discovery Day is perhaps best described as a ‘living brochure’ – you can talk to hoteliers from across Europe (many of whom will be bringing local delicacies for you to sample), chat to Inntravel staff, watch a cookery demonstration, and listen to talks about a variety of regions to find inspiration for your next holiday.

Reserve your free tickets >

Inntravel’s rail expert Kylie Anderson remembers her first trip to Germany before the advent of the Tunnel: “The travel arrangements from Newcastle involved a 6-hour bus journey to London Victoria, then a train to Ramsgate port to get the midnight ferry to Ostende. If this was Interrailing, I decided, they could keep it! Overcrowded, with no cabins available, our bed for the night was a hard plastic bench on the deck. As there was almost no signage on board, sleep was constantly interrupted by a stream of lost and fed up fellow travellers wandering round the decks shouting, “Where’s the flamin’ bar?!” It got better though, as we boarded the creaky old train and rumbled through morning mists and Friesian-filled fields through Brussels and Aachen to Cologne. Waiting for our connection at Cologne, we stood open-mouthed as we noticed that every single train departed on time!”

Remember when it was so expensive to fly that passengers dressed for the occasion, when ‘air hostesses’ served free drinks, and pulling the short straw meant being seated just in front of the smoking section on the plane? All this changed in the mid-90s, when flights became smoke-free and easyJet arrived on the scene to join Ryanair in heralding the age of air travel for the masses. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, low cost airlines changed the face of travel, allowing more people than ever before to fly. Budget airlines’ cost-cutting tactics led them to more obscure airports with lower landing charges, introducing us to new destinations – although this caused some confusion for Laura Wilford in our Customer Services Team: “My school work experience in Year 10 consisted of going to work in Germany. The Ryanair flight was only £1.99 and flew into Frankfurt-Hahn airport – the one in the middle of nowhere – over 100km away from Frankfurt-am-Main, the one my parents thought I was going to!”

The world nowadays is a smaller place; 25 years ago this month, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the tearing down of the Iron Curtain ushered in an era of globalisation. We find ourselves reaching for our phrasebooks less often as more and more people speak English, while the Euro has diminished the ‘Monopoly money’ effect of a purse jangling with exotic foreign currency. Rapid development in popular holiday resorts leaves us digging a little deeper for that authentic, local experience.

Advances in travel over the last 30 years have undoubtedly enabled us to see more of the world and share our experiences, which is something worth celebrating. But have we lost some of the excitement of travel – that real sense of discovery when you arrive somewhere for the first time, the feeling of being so far from home? Is a trip abroad still an event, or has it become routine? Why not recapture some of the magic on your next holiday: don your Sunday best for that 5 a.m. flight, grab a disposable camera, switch off your phone and savour the experience.

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