Evolution of Travel

At my very first airline job, I was trained by a guy who had never set foot on an airplane. I thought it was a bit odd – how could he understand our customers when he had never experienced flying? When prompted, he explained that he simply didn’t feel the urge to go anywhere.

Remember those days? There was a time when not everyone wanted to travel. The days I’m thinking of were roughly twenty years ago.

The trips I chose to do back then were on a whim. I revisited places I liked over and over again, rather than checking new places off an endless list. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of trips, and day trips within larger trips, but only visited some 35 countries or so. Unless you count airports, at which point I lose track.

It wasn’t a contest or numbers game. You weren’t reporting it to any followers (the notion of which would have felt absurd). You traveled where you wanted to and if you liked, say, Paris, then you might’ve gone there twice a month and nowhere else.

Besides hedonistic, travel used to also be humbling. You’d take what you got, accept that things might not go as planned, and focus more on practicality than pretty poses. Not that there’s anything wrong with pretty shots; in fact, I wish I’d taken more photos. But it felt embarrassing to be caught taking pictures back then. Tourist, you’d hear people thinking, and no, even back then nobody wanted to be a tourist, a mindless member of a herd, dressed tackily (for some reason).

I liked traveling spontaneously, not that planning ahead was even that easy compared to today, since the Internet in all its glory didn’t yet exist – or if it did, it was just a baby, learning to stand up on its own, with wobbly feet. I made travel decisions based on recommendations I heard from people, sometimes near strangers. I liked the element of exploring and being surprised.

Before internet bookings, you booked by phone or simply by turning up. Once, I arrived in Florence in the afternoon and all the hotels and hostels were fully booked for that evening. As usual, I was traveling solo – what was a girl to do? Luckily, after walking around a scorching hot city with my heavy backpack, I managed to find what seemed to be the last available bed in Florence. It was located in a dorm and I was told that another Finnish woman was staying there, too.

Great, I thought, not too pleased. I’d come to Italy searching for adventure, not nostalgia for home. But as I was rummaging through my backpack, sitting on the bed allocated to me in a female dorm of 6 or maybe 8 beds, my fellow countrywoman entered. She too had been cheerily informed by reception that another Finn had become her roommate, and she was looking as skeptical as I was. It only took us a few sentences, however, to determine that we were, in fact, soul sisters. She, too, was working for an airline, doing the same job as I was and she too had a history of long cultural exchanges and expat life. She spoke Italian fluently and we soon became travel buddies. Back home, our paths kept crossing afterwards, and we ended up working for the same airline, knowing the same people, and keeping somewhat in touch.

Street smarts and blending in were what made you a part of your destination. Spending several months in Italy, it became a part of me, a scene in the story of my life. Many of those stories I’ll never share here, because they weren’t lived with the intention of publishing them for likes, just like how I won’t tell the stories of my half a dozen airline and airport jobs, and what I learned and saw each day, the unusual and untold.

Now, I’m working in an office job with people who have no need of language skills and who, pre-Covid, traveled once a year for their annual vacation. They are happy in their office careers, which is nice to see. No soulmates in sight, we are of a different tribe: once a year was never enough for me. I wanted more, needed more, and took more. Before it was a trend, I’d quit my job for travel, planning on finding something else. Today, with kids as my motivator, I’m focusing on a so-called career for the first time and I’m mind-boggled when someone says they have been sitting in the same office since the 80’s. To think of all the things I’ve done during that time, and meanwhile they were just here, doing the same thing they’re doing today. I can’t process it.

But I’m happy about the diversity. I embrace it, and I wish there was more of it. We don’t all need to like the same things. (It seems obvious, but there: I said it out loud.)

I can now understand the urge to not go anywhere. Traveling internationally – touristically – will only keep the pandemic going for longer, and anyway I wouldn’t enjoy it. Travel during a pandemic has lost its carefree glamour, its soul-pampering element. The adventures that might happen seem too extreme for my liking, or maybe I’m just getting older and less grandiose. Could well be.

This summer, I’m touring domestically by car (unecologically so), exploring what I’ve missed within a few hours’ radius from home. I didn’t even used to own a car until very recently. And I wonder what travel will be like when my children and their generation become young adults and fly the nest… or will there be a new fad by then? Space travel, perhaps?

(Oh, and the last I heard, my soul sister had moved to a rural area a few hours from Helsinki and was tending a garden instead of sunbathing in Italy. We both thought our sunbathing glory days would never end, but time took care of that.)

65 responses to “Evolution of Travel

  1. A beautiful post and I love your photos, all of them. It’s funny about children and careers you mention. With my son went my focus on career and until recently I was quite happy to stay where I was, doing the same thing over and over. I’m slightly more ambitious now, but not as I was before. Quality time with my family comes first and if my career can work around that I’ve found perfection.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh yes, I won’t make any sacrifices for work, no overtime when you have kids. Priorities! But the fact is, I need to make more money now, in order to feed and clothe my family, and the travel industry was notoriously badly paid. (But we traveled for almost nothing at all, back in the day… making it almost less expensive to travel to shop than to shop at home! Those were the days). Cheers to finding perfection!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Nowhere near perfection yet, but found a sort of compromise… still working weekends but have weekdays afternoons free. Retail is poorly paid too 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Travel has changed so much and I thank goodness both of us travelled so much when we did, (you much more than me). We took the Golden age of air travel so much for granted for many years. Really it is/was the luxury of looking into another nation’s backyard somewhere far away on earth and playing there temporarily.

    I had doubts leaving my kids home to travel, and family commitments often stymed plans but had I left it til kids were adult and retirement arrived, I would have missed out and it would not have happened at all. My experiences were unforgettable and for that, I will treasure them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good for you for going 😊 I’m happy I did, too, even at the expense of having a ”real” career. Work is just work, after all. And yes, I agree about looking into another nation’s backyard and deciding to play there (often without permission too, and forgetting to clean up)…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellently told. Life is a strange beast. Lovely to hear you had a soulmate, at least for that time. Maybe you can reconnect. This I found interesting: “Many of those stories I’ll never share here, because they weren’t lived with the intention of publishing them for likes”. But you don’t post stuff here for likes! You post it so that your stories find listeners. I try to imagine living my life for likes and it makes me sick. Nothing I have lived through happened with the intention to be written about or published. And yet I do it. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Nice photos and great story. I used to boast that I knew Paris better than my new home town of Chicago 30 years ago. While it’s still true, it’s amazing what time and settling down will do for how we view the world and our priorities. If we are the same as we were 30 years ago, we have wasted 30 years. Have a wonderful day. Peace.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well said! You’re right: changes are a part of life. Some love them, some hate them and hold on. Settling down really changed me more than I expected. As for Paris, last time I went back, it had changed too. New people, new places, new vibe. I almost didn’t recognize it. The Paris I lived in and loved (somewhere around 2002-2007) was gone. My Paris only exists in my heart now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I share the nostalgia of past journeys and the different priorities and travel styles back then. The internet has been a plus (planning) and a minus (posing, oversharing), but I can’t imagine not having it now, even though there was something much more adventuresome about the loose and open-ended old ways of landing somewhere brand new!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can’t imagine not having it, either! And also phones for small school-aged kids, yes! I want to know they are ok and be able to track them. My childhood seems wild and reckless in comparison (though it was normal). Over here, first graders walk to school alone (all alone!!!) and it freaks me out.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Since my first overseas trip with the school at the age of 13 I’ve had the urge to travel as much as I can. Despite my wings being clipped recently though I’ve been content exploring more of my own country when there has never been a better opportunity to do so. For over ten years I spent the month of July in Finland but I’m hopeful to be allowed back in soon! Have a great family summer holiday and send over some scenic photos of what I’m missing. M x

    Liked by 3 people

    • Over ten Julys in Finland, oh my goodness, Marion!! This July is a warm one: I was just looking at photos from last year and July was so cold we were wearing sweatshirts and fleece-lined jackets. This year, we’ve had around 23-29C for several weeks now, which is amazing! Maybe I’ll post some photos at some point, good idea! ☺️ Take care and enjoy domestic travel!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Travel is such an interesting – and controversial – subject, and your post about it is interesting. Why do we travel, what really motivates us to, and even should we do it…climate change now looms so large in this debate, and I feel guilty for flying from Belgium to Sweden this summer, knowing that one of the most impactful decisions we can make as individuals is chose not to fly….increasingly I like to travel closer to home, why do we need an exotic holiday after all? Can we afford it (ecologically)? Do people agonise about this enough?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your comment! Those are thoughts I’ve been having, too. Climate change was something I never considered back then, and now all I can think about is what kind of planet are we leaving our kids. You don’t have to look far to see it: the Baltic Sea is warming up and it’s also polluted and toxic. People look away and travel. Maybe I do want them to agonise a tiny bit more, if I’m being honest!! 😇

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I would hate to think I didn’t clean up after myself. Are you referring to the environmental cost of jet travel Snow? Btw, your job was a real career – don’t sell yourself short!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have always been jealous of the Europeans. Living in Australia the closest trips we have are Bali or New Zealand. No desire to go Bali want to go back to NZ. My holidays have usually been a round 10day trips twice a year. Longest were in 2012 and 2013 when the ex and I did just over 4 weeks around the world (SYD/JFK/LHR/ZRH/HKG/SYD 2012) (SYD/JFK/LHR/CDG/HKG/SYD 2013) a week in each place. Really want to get back to NYC, London and Paris. Still need to get to Ancestral Germany, and Mum wants to hike Italy. Distance and flight time is a big killer when you live in Australia. COVID needs to bugger off too. I enjoy seeing Others views of their travels in the hopes I will get there one day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve heard Australians say that, but we up north are pretty distanced from the rest of Europe, also culturally. And we have no budget airlines so travel is quite expensive (unless you work at an airline!). So I feel like it doesn’t really apply to us. For instance, if you live in Belgium, you can just pop over to France for a weekend trip, and so on. But it’s quite a journey from Scandinavia! So much so that in Finland we say we are going ”to Europe” when we leave the Nordic Countries, as if we were not part of Europe! So I envy central Europeans for their easy access to neighbouring countries. We have half of our border with Russia which is not such an easy place to visit (visa, language, culture)… and so I’ve never been there. Hope your travel wishes come true!

      Like

  10. oh yes i remember the days of careless travel – where will we head to next? telling our nephew about the times when we had no mobile phones, no internet, no way of contacting anyone … he was amazed that we were so brave! i think travelling will take a while to come back ,,,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, it was more adventurous! Landing in the wrong city because of bad weather rerouting and having no way to contact your friend who was waiting for you at the original airport: should I stay and wait for her to get informed and pick me up, or should I head out on my own..?
      Nowadays, if I travel somewhere without researching it properly (just because), people think I’m unaware of the existence of these sites! 😅 Hahah, nope, I’d just rather not!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the photos as always, but the top one is perfect. A great photo and a great illustration for your post. So many things I could comment on here, but the lost of spontaneity is first and foremost. I can think of so many great travel experiences that happened by accident. These days, no one does anything without checking TripAdvisor or Facebook or whatever. I think that’s a loss. I have some great memories of places stumbled upon and great stories of disastrous choices too.
    I also identify with your spontaneous travel choices. My first trip to Europe involved hitchhiking and I basically went wherever my rides took me!
    I hope you’re enjoying your road trips nd look forward to seeing those you wish to share.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can relate! And that was part of the allure of travel: stumbling upon experiences, places, making up your mind to leave whenever you wanted. I think some hotels I stayed at in Italy didn’t even require you to tell them how many nights you were going to stay, you just went day by day. You got to know the locals a bit, because a foreigner was an exotic thing (and they were by no means exhausted of tourists yet) and oh all the cultural exchanges, from Formula1 racers (which my country is famous for, if you are into that) to travel tips and invitations to come taste grandma’s lovely fish soup. I find it hard to imagine those scenes happening today.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I try to remember that I’m getting older and into that ‘everything’s going to hell in a handbasket’ phase. In reality, things are different and while I might interpret the changes as bad, someone younger might see them as normal. I’m appalled at the loss of privacy these days, but a person growing up now wouldn’t have that same sense of loss because they’ve grown up with their lives being constantly tracked. I expect the same is true of travel and travel experiences. And, by the way, I think I share with you the loss of wanderlust. Right now I have no particular desire to leave the island, let alone go on any great explorations of the world. Sad in a way, but OK in that it also signals a contentment with where I am.

        Liked by 1 person

        • About losing wanderlust, I feel like I’ve changed, or evolved, and it’s not good or bad, just natural as we age and go through life phases. And yes, it’s also a sign of contentment. Though also, if you already live in Hawaii, going anywhere else is just downgrading, if you ask me!!
          The loss of privacy bugs me too, for example the fact that anyone can just post a picture of you with a snarky remark and you’ll never know. Or publish your photo on a street photography exhibition without permission and it’ll be ok because street photography is cool and it’s art, so don’t be so uptight about it! This also makes me worry about bullying at school due to an unwanted picture surfacing somewhere. Etc. I also dislike that on the job market now (at least over here), you MUST be on LinkedIn and share your entire professional and academic history there! I don’t like it because I don’t want to feel forced to publish private details, and someone might take advantage of the info (who knows), and I don’t want to follow the masses, and anyway it’s not a merit: anyone can set up a profile! But most of all I dislike it because LinkedIn is a large company aiming for profit and it exploits the info users give and gains money off it. They sell ad space and personal details and everyone knows this, yet they treat it like an objective authoritative space, like the yellow pages for anyone working in any kind of job. Over here, you won’t get far without a LinkedIn profile, and I wish people wouldn’t always follow the herd… (My list of pet peeves grows each year!!)

          Liked by 1 person

          • That would be awful to be so reliant on something like LinkedIn. Recently, we’ve been trying to hire a couple of people where I work. Looking at the résumés depresses me no end, not because they’re particularly awful, but because they’re clearly a template-driven venture into creating a wholly unrealistic picture of who the person is. Whatever happened to ‘I’m clean, honest, and willing to work hard.’ I’d hire them on the spot! (I’m with you on the pet peeves, too.)

            Liked by 1 person

    • I agree!! And people are so selective now, wanting their airbnb to be just so, and if not, it’ll get shot down in social media. I’m happy I’m not a flight attendant now, with people filming and publishing without asking if it’s okay. The pressure must be immense to always be 100% perfect even if you’re tired or a customer is acting up…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reminds me of 1999-2000 when the internet hotel booking meant sending an email to ask for a room. They would hold your room (or you hope they do) until you arrived to pay for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I echoe your thoughts and some of the comments written here. I consider myself lucky to have traveled when I did. It was always a dream for me but unlike you, I did it later in life. Lucky for me this happened before 2020 because now, I can’t imagine that our laissez-faire attitude to international travel continuing; too many environmental, health, safety and political reasons.

    I’m struck by your statement about not ‘publishing for likes’. I heartily agree. It opens up the interesting question of why we blog at all & how it differs from why we write our stories … but that’s probably worthy of a post of its own 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • True, why do we blog is a bit of a conundrum. I think everyone who blogs wishes deep down in their hearts that someone reads it, enjoys it and somehow expresses their joy so you will know. So in a way, we all blog for likes. But there’s a fine line in choosing content. For example, I wouldn’t do a sponsored post using pictures of my kids (too young to say no) just so I can get free samples. I think I’ve gone into storytelling mode because I don’t want to constantly be documenting or feel like I have to report on things I’ve done. You know?
      As for travel, I hope changes will occur but I feel it’ll go back to what it was just before Covid… sadly for the environment. Personally, I also worry about safety nowadays when traveling, and am torn about the whole idea of taking my kids abroad on a holiday. Yes, I want them to see the world (as I knew it, but does that world exist anymore???) and I’m also worried about so many things it turns it into a chore rather than something enjoyable. I’ve lost my wanderlust!!! And I’m not sure if I want it back.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Parenthood has a way of changing perspectives. It’s like being in a perpectual state of worry!
        Personally, I wouldn’t take small kids on travelling vacations. As you say, there’s too much to think & stress about. Plus, I’ve never met a child who liked traveling.

        BTW I enjoy your storytelling posts. Your topics always get me thinking. I don’t always comment right away , but you should know that I’ve read it & am thinking about it 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh, I meant going on holiday with the kids to someplace warm or to a big city, Legoland or something. It would invariably involve air travel due to our distant location. Everyone I know has taken their small kids abroad, and we didn’t get a chance to do that yet… Our kids do seem to enjoy our short domestic trips, though the longest we have been away from home as a family is 4 nights! 😊
          And thanks for the nice feedback 💖💖 I like to try to get people thinking, maybe that’s my niche!!! I love discussion and even debates if they are polite!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah, the old days, backpacking, showing up to a place for a bed and when they were plenty available negotiating the price 🙂 (And if not – hope and pray and when really neccesary sleep in a park or on the beach) I love travelling, not only to be at some destination but also because of the travel itself, being on the move, the physical act of transporting yourself. Although I know and respect people not having that interest, I find it almost imposible to understand that. The past one and the half (and perhaps it will be two full years or even more) of not being free to go where I want to, felt like imprisonment. That was an eyeopener! I had never any need to reflect on this topic, and now I learned something about myself. Not having work or children to consider, I hope I will be back on the road soon. No need for hoping and praying anymore though. Even I managed to understand the internet well enough to arange things in advange 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I used to love traveling, too. I loved airports: their buzz, the electric, collective tension and excitement of all these people going somewhere. I loved planning, when all was still ahead of me, every dream was a possibility. On the plane, I’d look at the map and imagine the land we were currently flying over. Food for a dreamer, for sure!
      But now, I was just replying to Sandy’s comment that I think I’ve lost my wanderlust. Too many concerns, I’d just be worrying all the time. I wonder if it will come back.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. I feel the same way when I hear another Australian accent around- trying to get away only to still be tethered to home. I think I have a feeling of fear of being one of those office people despite still being lucky enough to have travelled when I wanted to (until now), I still can’t shake the feeling of I’m not done with it yet and maybe will never be. It’ll be interesting to see what travel will be like after all this- hoping we won’t need our noses prodded at every airport.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think the vaccinations are here to stay, so maybe that’ll be enough? Although I also learned that as long as poor countries don’t get vaccines, Covid is still everyone’s problem, because new variants are developing all the time and the ”old” vaccinations won’t be any good against them. So it seems that if we all just keep traveling for fun, the pandemic will just keep coming back… But yes, it would be good to get back to normal!!!

      Liked by 3 people

  16. “I liked the element of exploring and being surprised.” So agree..! Somehow the way travel works now is not much of exploring, but rather to tick off a list just by taking the same exact photos taken by others before the travel takes place. How odd right? That sense of wonder to discover things by oneself doesn’t really exist in comparison with 10-20 years ago. I am grateful that we had experience some real things way back then. Before Myanmar opens up its country, I had a chance to be cut off from the world when I arrive there. No internet, no international roaming, no local number, none. Only able to book my first night in Yangon, the rest is figure it out myself day by day, so much uncertainty yet so much fun. I hope you have a lovely road trip holidays! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, we have had some lovely road trips so far! Let’s hope our luck continues. The weather is also gorgeous for once.
      I agree with your travel sentiments! And I try to put myself in the shoes of people half my age (in their twenties)… I’m sure they see our old traveling ways as backwards and silly, not realising what fun it was to read a map or carry a dictionary. You had to choose, because you could not bring it all. One book, and maybe you traded it for a new one.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. As a Canadian, I’ve always been kind of jealous of Europeans and their ability to travel efficiently and travel for cheap. It’s almost made me want to move a few times throughout my life. Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, if it consoles you, nothing over here in Finland is cheap. We don’t have cheap travel and are far away from the rest of Europe. There was an Aussie who wrote almost the exact same comment as you! 😁 Thanks very much for popping by and having a read! 🌻

      Like

  18. I have so much to say about this! First of all, this is lovely. Your writing and the sentiment behind it. I was a bit surprised that you were trained by someone who’d never flown. That is strange.

    Second, I cannot imagine the memories you must have due to your background! Sometimes, I have similar thoughts as you, like while I was doing fill-in-the-blank thing, this other person was living the life of a groupie or whatever lol Life is so interesting in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for sharing this! I’m almost done my undergrad in tourism management. It’s an odd time to be studying tourism because the pandemic has truly shifted the travel industry. For domestic travel I am still trying to add some spontaneity throughout my trips by leaving enough time to wander. However, due to the pandemic, I would not be so eager to travel internationally without a set plan because of all the uncertainty. I could see a shift happening of people opting to go with travel agencies again to plan their trips.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, true! The comeback of travel agencies is entirely plausible. Just the fact of keeping up to date with changing regulations and requirements of entry, vaccine documents, etc. could be a useful service they offer. But then again, people forget quickly and are programmed to dismiss other people’s misfortune in order to fulfill their own pleasures… there are so many who are thrilled to travel even during the pandemic and enjoy visiting places like Venice with fewer tourists, not really caring if it’s responsible travel or not. To each his own… although, we are all in this together so I can’t completely understand the need for international holidays right now. I don’t want to sound too judgemental, though! 😀
      I can imagine it must be an odd time to study tourism, but also a good time, comparing to those who just graduated before the pandemic! You are on the edge of change 🙂 Good luck! And thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hey, LOVE your writing thanks!! I lived in Finland for 2 months (in Kuopio) and I loved the experience, I have worked in Export Sales for most of my life firstly with Land Rover and then for 2 Italian Medical Device companies so I have travelled most of the world firstly Africa and then everywhere. I too LOVE to travel but now am only travelling locally till we can move freely again.

    Liked by 1 person

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