The World Wide Web is what we called the internet back 1991. At the time, it was a curious domain only frequented by scientists and certain young nerds named Amanda. A world of interconnecting computers sharing information that could be traced on a map made of paper. You could receive and send information at what seemed like magical speeds of 1.2 kbps (kilobytes per second). The speed today, depending on area, can top out around 500,000 kbps.
We live connected lives; we’re connected to our families, to our friends, and (for better or worse) to our jobs. You just need to remember that before email when you went on vacation you were truly out of the office, completely uncontactable by the pressures of work. The lines between work and home are blurred today. We don’t consider that completely bad, either. Before the internet you could never truly work from home in a corporate environment, opening up options for people to have successful careers at major companies while living on a beach on a tropical island or a village of ancient stone-walled towers. We are simply connected to the world in ways we only dreamed of back in the 90s.
The world of travel changed, too.
The first time I traveled to Greece things were very different. I remember buying a Frommer’s Greece travel guide and using it to find the address and phone number of the hotel where we wanted to stay in Athens. We picked up the phone, calculating for the time difference, and called in the middle of the day Greece-time from the east coast of the U.S. We communicated in broken English to reserve the room. We then bought and mailed traveler’s checks to the hotel for the room deposit. Almost two weeks later, we received a fax (at my mother’s office) with copies of the traveler’s checks stating that our deposit had made it and we would have a room when we get there.
The same went for booking our airline tickets. We went to a travel agent and booked a charter flight (at that time it was the cheapest kind of flight) and were issued an itinerary. We did this months before we traveled. Then came a separate problem that’s pretty rare today. The time of the flight was changed and we didn’t realize it until we looked at the paper tickets, which came in the mail a couple weeks later. We hadn’t looked at the tickets until the day of the flight, and we came to the realization at home in Maryland. Our flight would be leaving out of New York. I remember my father making the trip in just over four hours. We wouldn’t worry about that today. The airline would just send us an alert as the times changed and we’d be able to reschedule or rebook or just simply plan to leave earlier for the airport.
We fast forward a few years to our trip to Africa. It was a far more complex trip with multiple connections, transfers and logistics and we did that all from the comfort of our home in Maryland via the internet.
A world of travel options have opened up to us thanks to the internet. We have multiple competing booking sites that aggregate prices that fluctuate daily in the airline and hotel industries. We can see the places we want to visit through a magical window we hold in the palm of our hand. We can make friends of people in places we plan to visit before we even leave home. The world of the internet, even with all the unfortunate things than can be done with it, is a blessing of technology allowing us to more easily expand our horizons and take that first step out into the world.