Friday Notes #89 — On Travelling Before & After The Internet Age

Just try to remember what it was like traveling before the Internet age. Now, think about your last trip. What a world of differences.

Friday Notes #89 — On Travelling Before & After The Internet Age
“Traveling has become ubiquitous, yet traveling today is fundamentally different from even two decades ago. The Internet, especially social media, changed travel's essence, distribution, and potential.” — Michael He

I often think about the world and how things were before the Internet became at the center of everything we do these days. I’m old enough to remember when there was no Internet in our lives. Remembering life (both real and digital) helps me better appreciate the world as it is today. As much as I like modern times, I miss many small things that were part of our slower life.

As far as I can remember, everything was at a much slower pace when I was a teenager or a young adult. We could spend time on simple things like playing in the garden for hours without any interruption. We didn’t know the “fear of missing out” syndrome.

Everything in the world was much farther away than it is today; we often travel the whole world virtually from the comfort of our homes at the speed of light. This has a profound impact on how we build expectations before travelling physically.

Travelling around the world these days is so different, too. Everything can be booked in advance, and places are explored just to make sure it will be ok. So walking the streets of a big city for the first time using our iPhones is either a much less stressful experience or an experience lacking a few surprises.

I wouldn’t go back to paper maps and public phone booths to find a room in Milan after coming off the plane. Yet, I remember the world of the unexpected awaiting me when coming off the plane.

“A new place isn't all too unfamiliar nowadays. Even without booking packaged tours (most infamously cruise trips), you have unlimited directions, recommendations, audio-visual materials, and financial resources on demand. For many years these resources were available separately in different (and often inconvenient) formats. Today it exists all within an iPhone, something short of a miracle.” — Michael He

Even photography was different at the time, before the Internet, before digital cameras. Going on a short trip, and taking pictures, would require having to send the film rolls for processing. Then, after a few days or weeks of delay, we could finally see the photos we took, giving us the impression of redoing the trip for a second time at an even quicker pace than the actual trip.

Travelling in modern times has its advantages for booking flights, and hotels, finding the best path between point A and point B, recording high-quality clips, searching on maps, asking Google for the best places, etc. and but having done this before the Internet age makes me better appreciate what we have now. So, I know, I’m feeling a bit of contradiction here.