Wanderlust turns 28! Here’s 11 ways travel has changed from then to now

To celebrate Wanderlust’s 28th anniversary, we’ve journeyed back to 1993 to see how travel has evolved in the past three decades. Are you ready for the nostalgia to hit?

Jessica Reid
25 November 2021

Film cameras to digital cameras

Running out of film was always a pain, and it was especially frustrating getting your photos developed and discovering the majority were terrible. Now, there’s a range of digital camera technology (smartphones and GoPros, to name a couple of examples) for capturing high-resolution pictures: ones that you can instantly see too. That said, film cameras are on the rise again. Perhaps there’s something special about capturing just a few grainy snaps of your travels, rather than having hundreds – maybe thousands – of images on your phone camera roll you’ll probably never look at again.

Cassette players to music streaming platforms

How retro! Cassette players really do make us feel nostalgic, but with music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music at our fingertips, allowing us to listen to absolutely any song in the world at any time, the Sony Walkman can’t really compete. Especially while on a week-long hiking trip when you’ve listened to the same song for the millionth time. Rumour has it though, the cassette player is making a comeback…

Travel clock to smartphone alarm

A travel clock was once an essential item, needed for setting those early morning alarms so you don’t miss your flight at the break of dawn. But now it’s just unnecessary, as our phones can do it all! Aren’t we lucky to have all these gadgets squeezed into one device?

Projected movies to back-of-seat entertainment

It’s hard to imagine a long-haul flight today without individual, on-demand entertainment to while away the hours, but that’s how it was 30 years ago when Wanderlust’s founding editors flew to South America, leaving them plenty of time to sketch out the magazine on the back of a sick bag. For many years, airlines would project films onto an overhead screen, until the late 1980s, when Northwest Airlines introduced the first back-of-seat entertainment – and it didn’t take long for others to follow suit. Now, everyone from first class to economy has hundreds of the latest movies and TV shows to watch, plus games, music, flight trackers and more. We are pleased this wasn’t available in 1993 though, otherwise Wanderlust might never have existed.

Boarding passes to e-tickets

Gone are the days of searching your bag frantically for your boarding pass at the flight gates. Now, you just need to scan a QR code or download an app to catch a flight, train or other public transport. All you need to worry about is making sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery. However, we do miss the feeling of holding that ticket in our hands and sticking it into our scrapbooks after arriving back home.

Postcards to social posts

How did you used to share your travel memories? Perhaps you sent a postcard with your travel tales to your loved ones, or if on a longer trip, you might have received letters through a Poste Restante (for those who don’t know, somewhere you collected mail if you had no fixed abode). But with the takeover of social media, there’s no need to wait for days to communicate. Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok can help you share your photos, videos and stories of adventure not just with your family and friends, but also with the whole world, while apps such as WhatsApp and FaceTime provide instant private messaging and video call services. We still think postcards have the edge for sentimental value though, so we’re sure it’s far from the end of their story.

Paper to Google Maps

Wanderlust once advised readers not to be so blatantly obvious when using paper maps abroad, as looking like a tourist can increase your chance of being targeted by muggers! Now, it’s easy enough to blend in with the invention of Google Maps, as everyone these days seems to be looking down at their phones anyway, sadly – but perhaps just turn down the volume on the spoken directions. Although it saves a huge amount of time when it comes to plotting routes, and prevents you from getting lost, we do miss this part of the adventure.

In-hand luggage to rolling suitcases

One of the only non-digital inventions on our list is the wheelie suitcase, and what a revolutionary idea it was. Don’t get us wrong, backpacks still have their place on certain trips, but luggage carried in hand is now rare to see. Travel nowadays has been made incredibly easy by just a few wheels being attached to the bottom of your suitcase. They save you from aching arms and sore backs, they’re highly secure with built-in locking mechanisms, and they come in extremely handy when rushing through airports. They might make a racket when rolling over cracked pavements and encourage us to pack a little more than we probably should, but otherwise, it’s a big thumbs-up from us.

Wanderlustthen to Wanderlustnow

The first ever issue of Wanderlust in 1993

Of course, Wanderlust Magazine is still here today and better than ever! But beyond the magazine, you can now access our full archive of digital magazines, fantastic competitions, podcast and of course the best travel guides, immersive stories and latest news in travel from our website wanderlustmagazine.com.

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The 30th anniversary issue

Swiss army knife to ?

Urm, why did we need those again?

Smoking on planes to no smoking on planes

Need we say more? This one is certainly for the better.

Want to learn more about Wanderlust? Read its origin story directly from our founding editor

All images: Shutterstock

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