Travel in the internet age

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

and who uses old fashioned screens any more?

Apparently it is twenty years since the formation of the world wide web. The changes in our lives have been astonishing and none more so in travel.

Go back before it started and we replied to small ads in the newspapers when we wanted to book a hotel, a guest house or a B&B. As soon as Boxing Day came, people trooped into travel agents to arm themselves with bulky travel brochures. I remember visiting a family and there would be a pile of brochures a foot high next to an armchair. Their evenings would be spent leafing through them to decide where to go. Once a short list was compiled a bookshop was visited to get the guidebooks. Back to the travel agency with a final decision as soon as possible and to make sure we could get the place we wanted before others did. The biggest concern was whether the pictures in the brochure matched what the place was really like.

Fast forward to today and we don’t flood the travel agents. We can see what they offer by just finding their website. We can get into the tourist destination websites and see videos of where we plan to go. Hotel sites show us room images, how far we are from locations and provide interactive maps so that we can see where we will be. And we can book online if we want picking flights that suit us rather than accepting what we are told. Don’t want to go from Saturday till Saturday? It’s less of an issue than it once was.

There are no piles of brochures around anymore but for some reason, guide books still are popular despite the fact they are out-of-date almost as soon as they appear. We can book hire-cars, excursions and restaurants before we go. And check in advance what others might think of them but that’s a different story. The only thing that hasn’t changed has been the problems getting there. Planes and airports are still the same necessary evils in going on holiday.

CD-Traveller would have been printed and available from WH Smith at a price. Today it is online and free. Our deadline for publication is about a second before we go live instead of a month ahead of a print date.

The travel industry grabbed the possibilities offered by the web with both hands and so did visitors. In a film called Perfect Strangers made in 1945 the mousy wife played by Deborah Kerr used to dream of far-away places beyond the garden wall and where they might go on holiday if life ever made it possible instead of a week in some genteel seaside resort. She collected brochures from Thomas Cook (was there another travel agent in those days?) so not much changed in nearly fifty years.

But in the last twenty, the world has become closer. We can see before we travel using real-time cams. What will the next twenty years bring?

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