On Thursday I went to the STA Travel Buzz office where Shapes, TimTams and Victoria Bitter were the contents of my healthy? dinner…
After reuniting with Cam, Alice and AJ from my ‘Around the World’ tour of London, plus a couple more £10 Poms and other STA Explorers we ate, drank and were generally merry running around in our Australian hats – corks and all, until Saxon sat us down for a little Ozzy talk. Apparently Magnetic Island is the place to be. Less than two months until I head down for those keeping track. (!!!)
So Cam has been asking us to look back on traveling and how it has changed over the last 30 years (they’re really squeezing everything they can out of the STA 30th anniversary thing). I haven’t been alive for 30 years, but here are my few thoughts on how travel has changed that I’ve noticed.
I’ve had a quick look at some other responses, and music is a trend. I’ve just spent the last month and a half iPod-free and have certainly come to appreciate how dependent I am on that little machine. BUT I have to say, especially on long haul flights, my iPod is not my saviour. It’s that amazing IFE (In-flight entertainment). I do not go to the cinema as often as I’d like because 1 – it is way too expensive these days, and 2 – all my friends feel the same way: it’s rare that someone is around to convince us all to part with that money when we’d rather use it for dinner or a few pints down the pub. As a result, the films shown on long flights are pretty much my main source of newly released hits that I never got to see.
I need something to look at when I’m sat in the same seat for that long, since sleeping comfortably when you’re not dropping thousands on First Class (which obviously I do all the time…in my imaginary world where I’m a famous and insanely rich writer….) just doesn’t happen.
I’ve been on a lot of long flights in my life, and on most airlines (Virgin Atlantic is my current favourite) the entertainment systems have become pretty amazing. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t choose from all those on-demand movies, television shows and games.
I know some planes still start all the movies at the same time, and you can’t choose the film. And god-forbid I ever get on another plane that only has those screens in the aisles. When you are sitting just a little too far away, or directly below those things: literally a form of torture.
There are other obvious thoughts: the Internet makes researching destinations and booking tickets a piece of cake; the world is a much smaller place.
Thirty years ago, there were a lot of places that I wouldn’t have been able to visit. This past year I spent about eight months in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. 1979? Not so sure I would have been so comfortable heading over a mere four years after the Vietnam war.
Africa is still a continent with a lot of struggling countries, but it’s becoming more and more accessible as a destination. My friend Olly goes there quite regularly these days and recently returned from his newest tour.
No smoking on flights. I remember flying with my mum once and having no choice but to sit in the smoking section of the plane. I don’t think a confined metal tube is really the best place for smoking, so that’s a change I’m definitely okay with.
A change I’m not okay with? Back in the day, one of my favourite things to do was to go into the cockpit. Anyone else do this? The air stewards would take me up, and I’d get to sit in one of those extra seats behind the pilot and co-pilot and watch them as they played with all those buttons and dials that somehow managed to keep a massive chunk of metal airborne. These days that’s definitely not possible. Probably something to do with terrorism, but a damn shame if you ask me.
A few random thoughts about travel: check.