Travel experiences your grandchildren won’t have

From maps to traveller’s cheques, these are the travel experiences of the past.


Before air travel became mainstream, the only way many Australian families could afford a holiday was by driving themselves.

This was often accompanied by a sprawling map unfolded across the passenger seat, and usually halfway onto the driver.

This was an era in which almost every Australian urban car had a Gregorys/Melways under the seat and every trip included an argument about which way was the right way up to hold it.

Traveller’s cheques

Backpackers carried a stack of them, which could be signed, dated and exchanged for actual money at participating Thomas Cook/Amex outlets. Boy did you sweat it trying to find one when funds were low.

Dressing up for the airport

Flying was once a prestigious affair. Blazers and ties were involved for men. Even for the shortest of jaunts. Now it’s all about wearing something as close to your pyjamas as possible without actually being in your pyjamas.


The euro makes sense, but it just doesn’t have the same excitement as figuring out how much you’d need to spend in each country and changing your money into francs, lira and peseta before you set off.


Before Facetime, messages and even email, postcards reigned supreme. Your grandkids will probably never experience trying to write as tiny as possible to be able to fit all their news on the back of a postcard. Now, they can tell their friends all the fun things they’ve been doing almost instantly.

Phone cards

They’ll never have to experience the frustration of trying to find a coin to scratch off the silver bit to find the unique pin!

Embassy visits

Before electronic passports, if you needed a visa the only way to get it was an embassy visit. It was usually quite a hassle but there was a certain charm to it.

Unreviewed travel

You could walk into a restaurant or stay at a hotel without knowing what 500 people before you thought about it.


For an entire generation of Australians, it was unthinkable to venture out into the big wide world without a guidebook packed snugly in your hand luggage.

Rolls of film

Every trip would mean dozens of rolls of film stashed in backpacks and pockets, ready to be taken to be developed when you got home. The anxious wait to see if any of the photos actually turned out well was all part of the fun.

You had to pay for each one, including the embarrassing, blurry and totally black ones, but you did get to keep the negatives.

Getting totally off the radar

In an era before social media and mobile phones, a traveller could disappear for weeks at a time and elicit barely a flicker of concern from home. They knew you’d get in touch when you needed some dollars.

What do you miss most about past travel? Do you wish any of these experiences were still common? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: The 1974 travel chronicles of Max Williams

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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