How people used to travel in 20th century and what’s different today?

travel in 20th century

It has been difficult to get from A to B with online bookings, Global Entry, or Uber. The average American gave up the horse-and-carriage look in search of a car, plane or private jet. This was surprising.

How was travel in the 20th century? There was only one way to travel across the Atlantic at the beginning of the 20th Century. It was the boat. Cross-country travelers had a variety of options available to them: car, carriage (for those who could afford one), train, or electric trolley lines, especially when they moved from rural areas into cities.

In the early 1900s, leisure travel was a luxury reserved for the elite and wealthy. Trains and cars were popular ways to travel around in the early-to mid-20th century. Although the first regional airlines were established in 1920, the airline industry didn’t boom until many decades later. A large portion of America’s population bought a car in the 1950s. This gave them the chance to travel the country and achieve the American dream.

In 1960, international and domestic flights were offered by airports. The luxury of air travel was quickly surpassed by transcontinental trips, which became short-term. Many countries have changed their visa requirements and travel regulations, as well.

So, what’s next? The leisure travel industry has a lot to live up to — anyone want to take a trip to Mars? We’ve listed how transportation (and travel) have changed over the past decade.

Traveling in 1900s

traveling in past

In the 1900s, horse-and-carriage travel was all the rage. As before the advent of cars, horse-drawn carriages were still the most popular mode for transport. In reality, roads were scarce in the 1900s so most travelers used rivers and waterways to get there. It is the last decade of the 20th century before roads, canals, and railroad plans took root in the United States. As such, it is a slower and more primitive form of travel than those we associate with the rest.

Traveling in 1910s

Cross-continental travel became more popular in the 1910s, as ocean liners gained popularity. The only way to travel to Europe was via steamship in the ’10s. The Titanic was, undoubtedly, the most well-known ocean liner of the decade. The Titanic, which was the largest ship in service at that time, left Southampton, England, April 10, 1912, for its maiden voyage. It was scheduled to arrive in New York City, April 17. It collided with an Iceberg at 11:40 on April 14 and was submerged beneath the North Atlantic three hour later. It was still the most powerful human-made object to move on the planet, and was considered the pinnacle in ’10s travel.

Traveling in 1920s

traveling in past

Travel was exciting and romanticized in the roaring 20s. The U.S. Railroads were extended in World War II and passengers were encouraged to take the train to travel to out-of-state destinations. It was also a decade that saw economic growth and prosperity. This was the first time that middle-class families could afford one the most important travel luxuries: a vehicle. Luxury trains in Europe were enjoying a ’20s moment thanks to La Belle Epoque’s design glory. However, private train cars and high-end train travel date back to the mid-1800s, when George Pullman introduced them.

After the difficulties of 1912, ocean liners rebounded with such popularity that Suez Canal was expanded. The most notable thing was that travelers would cruise to places like Jamaica and Bahamas.

Traveling in 1930s

We’ve reached the ’30s and planes are now mainstream. The Wright brothers invented the airplane in 1903. Commercial air travel was possible in the 1920s. However, flying was a difficult and uncomfortable experience that was reserved for the wealthy. Although flying was still reserved for business and elite travelers, it was much more comfortable in the 1930s. The size of flight cabins increased and the seats became more comfortable, often resembling living rooms furniture.

The invention of the Douglas DC-3 in 1935 changed everything. It was a commercial airliner that was bigger, more comfortable, faster than any others. The Douglas DC-3 was adopted by American, TWA, American and United Airlines. Trans-Atlantic flights were first seen in the 1930s. Pan American Airways was the first airline to fly passengers across the Atlantic. They began commercial flights across the pond back in 1939.

Traveling in 1940s & 1950s

The era of the road trip was in full swing during the 1940s as cars improved. Convertibles were replaced by well-built family station wagons. Cars became larger, more technologically advanced, and more luxurious. The increased comfort of the car made it possible to travel longer distances, so it was only natural that the 1950s saw a significant increase in U.S. highway possibilities.

Eisenhower introduced the Interstate system in 1950. Before the invention of the “I”, road travelers could only use the Lincoln Highway to travel across the country. It ran from NYC to San Francisco. The Lincoln Highway was not a pleasant ride. Some sections were rough and unpaved. This is why the Interstate system was created. Eisenhower was pressured by his constituents to improve roads, which he did in the 1950s. This opened the door for easier commutes and road trips.

Traveling in 1960s

past travel

The Concorde plane era began in the 1960s. The 1960s saw supersonic flight enthusiasm surge when Britain and France joined forces and announced they would make the first supersonic aircraft. They called it Concorde. Because of its role in paving the way for supersonic aviation, Concorde is a landmark aircraft. The supersonic jetliner was built by Britain and France in 1962. It was first presented to the public in 1967 and made its maiden flight in 1969. The enthusiasm for Concorde was soon dampened by noise complaints. There were only 20 made and 14 of them were used commercially on British Airways and Air France. Although they were retired in 2003 there is still great interest in supersonic aircrafts almost 20 years later.

Traveling in 1970s

Amtrak was founded in 1971. It spent much of the decade establishing its brand and its position within American travel. Amtrak originally served 43 states and Washington D.C. with 21 routes. Amtrak opened railway stations in the early 1970s and expanded its service to Canada. Amtrak was designed to discourage car use, particularly when it comes to commute. It wasn’t until 1975 that Amtrak introduced its fleet of Pullman Standard Company Superliner cars. This made it a viable option for long-distance travel. The new 235 cars, which cost $313million, featured overnight cabins and dining and lounge car options.

Traveling in 1980s

Long-distance flight via plane became a common practice in the 1980s. Although friendly skies became mainstream in the ’60s, ’70s, there was still some resistance from those who saw it as a danger or luxury for high-flyers. Jetsetting was more common than you might imagine, but it was still the preferred mode of long-haul transportation by the 1980s.

Traveling in 1990s & 2000s

In the 1990s, plans began to develop for hybrid vehicles. In 1997, the Toyota Prius (a hybrid gas-electric vehicle) was introduced in Japan. It gained popularity outside Japan in 2001. In 2007, Toyota had sold 1,000,000 Priuses worldwide. We saw the hybrid trend from ’97 through ’07, which paved the way to the success of Teslas and chargeable BMWs. It has had a profound impact on American commuters as well as road trippers.

Traveling in 2010s

We’re still playing music up there, so let’s turn on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” because the 2010s were when air travel was truly extravagant. Qatar Airways introduced their luxurious Qsuites in 2017 to business class passengers. La Compagnie, a 2013-founded airline, also joined the fray. Luxury travelers learned that private jets were not the only option for flying in extraordinary style during the ’10s.

Traveling in 2020s

We don’t know what 2020’s transportation fixation will look like, but we do know that the scene is set for commercial space travel to become the decade. It seems that commercialized space travel is the next step, with Elon Musk building a complex SpaceX rocket ship and plans to explore Mars. Also, there’s the opening of the first space hotel in 2027.

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