6 Classic Travel Habits We Need to Bring Back

“Classic”. The word is used to denote a time gone by, a way of doing things that we recognize as ideal. Classic literature, classic rock, classic movies. Not that modern things are bad, of course. But despite any new and shiny arrivals, we all know that the classics are king. It can take some effort to bring back an old habit… But here are a few travel traditions that I think we’d all like to see returned.

1. Maps

I have written before about the practical necessity of bringing a paper map with you. You never know when you might need one. However, they also make great keepsakes – and planners.

The world sometimes feels as though it is shrinking, as all corners become ever more reachable in ever shorter amounts of time. And that’s a great thing. But we can sometimes lose perspective. It’s one thing to know it’s going to take you ten hours to fly to your destination. It’s quite another to get out a globe and trace the route yourself, looking at just how far you’re going to travel. You could even do the classic thumb-tack and string technique, to get a real sense of the distance. Try it for the last trip you took, or for a trip you plan to take, and see if it doesn’t give you a bit of a thrill.

2. Travel Agencies

Yeah, yeah, self-promotion, yada yada. Bear with me, it’s anecdote time.

I recently went on a trip to Turkey, where I met up with my family. We spent ten days together on the coast, in a rented house.

On one of the days, we decided to try and find a slightly hidden beach someone had recommended to us. It made for a fun trip – but we had to wait for ages to get the right bus, walk an hour in extreme heat – and pay for a taxi to bring us back, which we hadn’t anticipated. Still fun, as I said, but mostly because we were together (and knew we could laugh about it afterward).

On another day, we signed up for a planned boat tour, run by an agency. It took us all around the bay, stopping at beautiful little beaches for us to swim, and the famous St Nicholas Island, where one of the crew took us to see the ancient ruins. Afterward, we agreed it had been the best day – and there’s no way we could have arranged it on our own.

Spontaneous, unplanned travel is fine – fun, even – if you have unlimited time and money. But if you can get a professional to arrange an amazing trip with everything you want included, every day can be something different and unforgettable.

3. Presentation

I love people-watching. One of my favorite parts is looking at the clothes people wear… Not that I am a fashion expert, but there is so much to be enjoyed about the way someone chooses to present themselves to the world. Until they get to an airport, apparently, when they suddenly decide to settle for any old thing.

Think about those classic movies, where you see the heroine disembarking from her cruise ship, or standing on a railway platform. Is she wearing her pajamas, a pair of saggy jeans, or a misshapen jersey, because it’s only for traveling in? Or is she wearing something that makes her feel beautiful and adventurous?

People should be as comfortable as possible for traveling. Especially flying – no tight clothes, no high heels. Comfort, however, is more than physical. When you wear clothes that make you feel frumpy, you are making yourself unnecessarily uncomfortable. There are so many options these days for nice-looking clothes, even slightly fancy clothes, made in stretchy, breathable fabric. You no longer have to settle for choosing between looks or comfort – so why do it?

The same goes for luggage. Maybe you don’t secretly want a matching set of cream coloured, faux leather suitcases, but I’m going to guess that you do. Or maybe you want a classic canvas duffel with straps and buckles. Or a hard-shell, holographic silver roll bag that makes you feel like you’re the ruler of a galactic kingdom. You’re going to be taking this thing across the world with you – and again, you have so many choices available these days. Choose something that makes you feel like the best version of yourself.

Classic travel demands presentation

4. Making Conversation

I am not going to go on a nobody-talks-to-each-other-any-more, social-media’s-causing-the-downfall-of-society rant. The ability to contact friends and family across the globe is one of the things that is making travel more accessible now than ever. And any new friends you make on your travels? You’ll be keeping in touch with them via social media as well.

I will say, however, that looking at your phone the entire time is going to deprive you of some potentially interesting experiences. When else are you going to get the opportunity to meet and speak to so many new types of people? Make a list of ice-breakers, look around to see who seems friendly, and go chat to them. If they turn out to be no fun to talk to, don’t worry – you can politely excuse yourself. It’s travel, you won’t be sticking with them for that long.

5. Letters

Letters used to be a staple of classic travel. Not only were you keeping your friends and family up-to-date on where you were, but you could cement your new memories by writing them down. Of course, all those classic travelers would have used email if they’d had it. But there is just something about letters…

I write letters frequently to one of my older relatives, as she doesn’t like email. Whenever I mention this to anyone, they always say how much they would love to write letters to someone. I always think “well, why don’t you?” Sure, maybe the person won’t write back. But the act of writing everything down, choosing what stories and anecdotes to include, thinking about what the recipient would be interested in? Such an amazing thing to put your effort into.

Not to mention you then get to work out the postal system of a different country. Talk about immersive experiences.

6. Postcards

I almost included this in the previous point, but postcards have a charm all of their own. Besides, they are classic in a different way to letters. They are more of a modern classic.

These are great if you are not much of a writer, as you can just pen a few words and send them off to whomever you want to get a nice surprise that week. You also get to choose which pictures you want to send – funny? Scenic? Obscure?

They also make great items to keep for yourself. Sometimes, there will be a picture of a scene or monument that you would not have been able to capture, and now you get to have your own version.

Remember, the way we use “classic” means the ideal. And not everyone will have the same ideals. But so often, there are things that we think of wistfully, wishing they were still around, when it would be so easy to bring them back ourselves. So why not?

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Kate Downes

Kate is a freelance writer and travel blogger. Some people say it’s a tough gig, but she has previously taught high school, worked retail, and been a bartender in London, and would take five thousand words on a deadline any day.
You can find more of her work at readlongshorts.com and signedkateelizabeth.com.

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