Who can forget travel in the 1990s before the Internet revolutionized the way we did things and a smartphone took care of all our worries? We take a look at eight things, that like travel alarm clocks, just don’t seem to be around anymore…
1. Suitcases without wheels
Risking slipped discs, backache and a whole host of muscle related injuries by heaving bulging suitcases across airport concourses was all part of the game. It’s always been one of life’s great unexplained mysteries as to how NASA could put men on the moon before someone thought of putting wheels on suitcases.
2. Taxi rip-offs
Taxi rides were much more fraught back in the day, with plenty of rumors doing the rounds. Visitors to Eastern Europe often did a quick check to make sure there was no electric blanket on the back seat waiting to zap ‘unruly’ passengers. Travelers to the Mediterranean fared little better and many half-expected the ten-minute journey from the airport to morph into a two-hour ride, nicely contributing to the driver’s pension fund, but often resulting in the holidaymaker filing for early bankruptcy.
3. Changing money
Cashing travelers’ checks was never too problematic when overseas — the challenge was to find somewhere that didn’t charge a stratospheric commission. Mentally calculating the daily conversion rates, commissions and ‘processing fees’ that some exchange offices and hotels charged back in the day could prove so taxing that even Stephen Hawking would have stood little chance of a fair exchange.
4. Carrying cash
There’s no way that stuffing huge wads of banknotes into a money belt — or a fanny pack/bum bag for that matter — bulging beneath an ever expanding waistline ever looked cool. To carry off the incessant juggling between pocket, wallet and money belt while hoping no one noticed (they did, by the way) as you bought your postcards in the hotel lobby would often require the physical ability of a contortionist.
5. Camera film
Notice how the sunscreen in the beach resort always costs twice as much as back home? Well, camera film got the same treatment in the 1990s. Have you’ve ever wondered why there’s often a middle-aged granddad giving you the evil eye as you snap away with your smartphone at every available object to upload to Facebook? Fortunately, he may not actually be devising ways to make you regret ever buying that selfie stick but simply reminiscing about the carefree days of the 90s when he would wow the neighbors with album after album of revered snapshots from his Kodak Instamatic.
6. Trashy souvenirs
Like the last drink of the night, you know you shouldn’t, but by then it’s too late. While that Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt bought on the street may have proudly told the folks back home where you’d been on vacation, you looked pretty stupid once they found out that that there wasn’t an actual Hard Rock Cafe within 200 miles of your hotel. Like going to McDonalds, buying the fake T-shirt is a deed often done but rarely admitted to by anyone over the age of 25.
7. Getting around
In the days when GPS stood for Granny Pinpointing System and consisted of nothing but a shout and a whistle, a traveler’s best friend was a fold-up map. Reading the map itself was a skill that paled into comparison with the foot-stamping frustration of wrestling with huge panels of paper twice your own body size as you attempted to fold it back into its original pocket-size form.
8. Irritating fellow travelers
Nothing enraged the most placid traveling companion more than having to listen to a mangled version of your favorite CD as you hit play on your groovy new Sony Discman. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill may have sounded great to you but those 90s style headphones leaked sound like a sieve, turning poor Alanis into a tinny, rattling harpy capable of inflicting audio toothache on all unfortunate enough to be within a 20 feet radius.
And what are your good and bad memories of travel in the 1990s?