Researching travel before the Internet!

3rd February 2016 0 By Biggsy
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Last Updated on 24th July 2020

Travel before the Internet was a different beast! In comparison, today, if you want to find out about “Travelling in Peru” you simply Google it on your iPhone and within seconds you find 15 results on the first page alone (of a total 10.6 million) consisting of:

1x TripAdvisor page
5x sponsored links offering trips
1x government advice website
2x global guide book company articles
1x Wikipedia entry
1x newspaper article
2x Peru tourist board type pages
1x obligatory “10 things to know before visiting Peru” article.


So it’s safe to say there is ZERO chance of you not being able to find out information about Peru, and that’s only blossomed in the last few years thanks to social media and “travel blogging”. Nowadays even if you’re not actively seeking Peru you’ll still eventually stumble across it in your Twitter feed as somebody posts a blog on “Top 10 things to do in Peru”.

Researching travel in the early 2000s

Back in the early 2000s it was a little bit different. Before social media (Facebook and Twitter became popular in 2007) there were still devoted webpages out there but they were few and far between, and the main search engine Yahoo! wouldn’t have done such a good job of finding the ones that did exist. So content was minimal and blogging wasn’t a “thing”. Google Maps wasn’t even founded until 2005 so you’d do well to find out where Peru was in the first place! Also check out my post on all the great places you went pre-social media!

Researching travel in the mid 1990s

Going back a bit further we did have the Internet in the mid 1990s, with browsers such as Mosaic and Netscape along with far too many websites using rainbow coloured underlining and red sphere bullet points. However content was VERY thin on the ground. The Internet was far less of a resource than it is today and most people were more bothered with this new communication device called “email”. If you did find some information on a destination, the likes of EasyJet was only founded in 1995 so there wasn’t the notion of cheap short-haul flights and the means of flying somewhere for the price of a small round of drinks like we have today. You were also completely unaware of how many other people were travelling around Peru … unless they were a close friend of yours … and on email!

What a browser looked like in 1994!
What a browser looked like in 1994! Source

Researching travel before the Internet – the mid 1980s

Back yet further to the late 80s you’d have 3 options if you wanted to find out about a travel destination. Travel before the Internet now seems so backward, but at the time we didn’t know any different:

1. Stumble across a tatty guide book in your local library (if you were lucky). If not then a generic Royal Britannia encyclopedia might at least give you some high level geographic details like its square mileage and currency. Failing that you could always find a dog-eared atlas or world map. You’d at least know that Peru was in South America.

One of the only places to get travel information in the 1980s
One of the only places to get travel information in the 1980s

2. Pop into a high street travel agents and hope they’d have something on Peru, other than the rows and rows of shiny travel brochures offering Spanish beach holidays and the odd cruise ship holiday.

A typical 1980s travel brochure
A typical 1980s travel brochure. Source

3. Ask your geography teacher

Summary – that Internet is a wonderful thing

So if you’re slightly surprised/embarrassed/shocked that your 40 something friends/relatives weren’t “gap yearing” it around SE Asia in their early 20s or volunteering in Nicaragua it’s because it really wasn’t considered the same rite of passage back then. Information was far less accessible and we simply didn’t know about the far fewer opportunities! People had very much the mentality of “going on holiday”. That was generally “1 week in the sun” in a Spanish beach resort on the Costa Brava. Travel before the Internet seemed a little more “old skool”.

Yes – some people may have gone away to ‘Camp America’ but that was considered quite far out back then. Also dare I say it a bit “middle class”. While hippy friends wearing baggy harem pants and going off to find themselves in India were well … just hippy and the polar opposite from the mainstream.

So you millennials don’t know when you’ve got it made. But then you don’t know any different as the Internet’s always been there for you! So go off and do all that stuff. A lot of us really didn’t have the knowledge or opportunity when we were in our early 20s.

To understand what this feels like leave your phone at home for the day. Then walk into town and then ask yourself the question “What’s it like to visit Machu Picchu?” … and without the Internet at your fingertips (or cheating by asking to borrow somebody else’s phone) let me know how you get on! 😉

Anybody else have any “travel before the Internet” musings?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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