The evolution of the world of travel

Amanda Goh discusses how the world of travel has changed over the past century

Amanda Goh
6th March 2020
Evolving technology over the years has resulted in many improvements and differences in the travel industry. Technology has allowed people to have a different perspective on how and where they want to travel to.

The last 100 years saw many vast changes with the way people travel. In the early 19th century, travelling was usually done by horse or buggy for destinations within a day's ride. Travelling was slow and difficult only the rich were able to travel, while the poorer people walked everywhere. While the late 19th century saw an increase in railroads with faster and safer transport to further destinations. There was also an increase in hotel and guesthouse construction at desirable destinations.

Between the 1920s to the 1950s, tourism became more popular as paid vacation plans were offered. There were also more amusement parks and rides for children. With more money, people were able to buy cars and vacations. There were also more vacation weeks, which were not a thing before the 1900s. Destinations also started to promote themselves. Technology also seemed to be improving, now with trains and planes, the rich were able to travel to further destinations. The travel industry slowly became popular.

By the 2000's, people were able to travel far and near. Vacations and airplane use became more frequent. The internet was also gaining popularity, allowing tourists to book flights and reserve hotels and cars for their trips. The internet increased competition in the tourism industry. Instead of booking through agents, they realised that it would be cheaper and better finding flights and hotels themselves. In addition, social media had created a layer of information vital for making decisions, through recommendations, reviews and blogs. Budget airlines have recently been increasingly popular. They have been more suitable for people wanting to visit a city for a few days. It had opened peoples minds to the thought of travelling further for less money.

The Global Solo Travel Study from British Airways in 2018 had showed the nearly 50% of women worldwide have gone on a solo trip.

Not only has transport come a long way in the tourism industry, so has accommodation. In the early days, guests and travellers accommodated in family homes and local inns. Hotels were only introduced in the 60s due to an increase in international travels. Motels were replaced with fancier alternatives and slowly lost their charm. Even the concept of solo travelling has only recently been popular. The Global Solo Travel Study from British Airways in 2018 had showed the nearly 50% of women worldwide have gone on a solo trip. Between 2010 and 2019, solo travelling has increased by at least 20%. Large families used to travel together with many big joint family trips. Also, in the earlier days, booking for accommodation was only available through travel agencies. Going directly to airlines was not cheaper and might not even have been possible. Accommodation was usually booked with flights at one go. However today, booking separately and by yourself might be cheaper than through an agency.

Previously, on trips, there would be less pictures. While travel photography had dated back to the 1800s, the possibilities of capturing travel experiences on camera were not widely done. Only as photography equipment got lighter and more portable over the years, travellers were able to take pictures easily. In the 19th century, to take a photograph to document their travels would mean processing their photos after exposure and lugging their huge equipments wherever they went. Kodak founder George Eastman revolutionised the world of travel photography in 1900 with his camera that only used a roll of film. It had made it easier for more people to take photos while travelling. Not only did photography technology advance over the years, the quality of the images did too. The rise of digital cameras in the 2000s had allowed more photos to be taken, without worrying about the quality of them. Slowly, technology allowed us to have a photo galore and have also allowed for immediate sharing.

Imagine trying to travel back in the days. As travelling gets more and more popular, the world seems to be much smaller than we thought 100 years ago. But, technology doesn't stop here, there are still multiple possibilities available for the future of travel. Who knows, maybe we will actually be able to travel in a blink of an eye in 100 years!

Feature Image Credit: Richard from Flickr

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