I have been travelling for more than 25 years, and this was the first international trip that I have arranged almost entirely digitally (the exception being the occasional purchase of a bus or ferry ticket from a local agent – some of these are not online and there are times when there is no substitute for local knowledge).
My first overseas trip was made in 1989. As a young lad from Hobart, Tasmania, my first destination was, of course, London, where I had intentions of staying for at least a year to live, work and travel the Continent. I saw a good local travel agent who provided what was generally arranged at that time – an open return ticket on Qantas, a two-night stopover in Singapore on the way, and accommodation for my first week in London.
My research – such as it was – consisted of all the movies and television I had ever seen of London and the UK, stories from friends who had been there ahead of me, and a few travel brochures and newspaper articles. Sending a coupon clipped from a magazine resulted in a modest envelope of brochures and a few maps arriving from the British tourism agency office in Sydney.
Transferring money involved lengthy arrangements with my bank in Hobart to wire funds to a bank in London, and when I arrived, even lengthier discussions with said London bankers in order to open an account so that I could access my funds, which the bank had already received. Making payments on my Australian credit card required the posting of cheques from London. This was long before the era of online banking and Paypal.
Today it could hardly be more different. From the comfort and safety of one’s own home, one can pull in an avalanche of information, images and endless video from any destination in the world. The travel industry, destinations, governments and individual content generators around the globe ensure that every inch of every destination is examined, photographed, videoed and exposed and every potential question answered – somewhere.
How did you plan and book your last big trip? Was it different to your first big trip? Please leave your story in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.