An open letter to a traveler living a hundred years from now

Dear traveler,

You may not realize it, but a lot has changed in the travel world since my fellow Gadling bloggers and I were roaming the globe back in 2010. If you’ll indulge me for just a moment, my dear traveler from the future, I’d like to share with you a look at how things used to be…

First of all, it won’t surprise you that air travel was much different way back in 2010. The airlines were starting to charge us extra for all sorts of things that used to be free – headphones, meals, checked luggage, carry-on luggage, using the bathroom – which inspired many an indignant blog post. (In the previous sentence, you’ll notice I referred to them as airlines, plural. This was before the Great Airline Merger of 2043 in which every single airline merged into UniAir.)

As for the planes themselves, they were not terribly comfortable – the seating was cramped and the air stale – but they were staffed by people called flight attendants who were usually a pretty helpful and polite bunch. (Okay, some of ’em were a bit surly, but they’re a lot better than the robot maids you have now! No personality!) Back in 2010, we sure complained a lot about air travel, but I think most of us, when we stopped and thought about it, were pretty amazed at the technology that allowed us to travel across the world in less than twelve hours. (Hey, don’t laugh! That was fast for us!)

Some of us preferred hitting the open road to flying the friendly skies. A hundred years ago, we drove cars that ran on gasoline, a liquid refined from oil (a substance you’ve only read about – sorry we didn’t leave you any!). Driving across the United States (which once included Texas!) was one of the greatest ways to see the massive scale and the endless variety of our great country.

When exploring an unknown country or city, many of us would carry books (written works containing several hundred pages bound together) with detailed maps and recommendations on the best hotels and restaurants to visit. Of course, I’ll bet there’s much more detailed and accessible information available for travelers in the year 2110, especially with the recent introduction of the Apple iBrain, but we liked traveling our way. Yes, believe it or not, we actually enjoyed the feeling of getting lost in a new place, of rolling the dice on an unknown restaurant, of using sign language to express ourselves to foreign shopkeepers and taxi drivers.

Which reminds me… If I can offer you one piece of advice for your own travels in 2110, it’s this: Don’t over-plan! I’ll bet you have easy access to reviews of every dive bar and chicken shack in Pyongyang, but our most memorable travel moments usually happened spontaneously. Yours probably will too.

As you can see, a lot has changed in the travel world in the past hundred years – not just how we travel but where we travel. Although space travel is common for you now, it was barely a hundred years ago that even the world’s most beloved ex-boy-band member couldn’t scrape together the funds to make it up to the International Space Station.

But despite all the differences, we have much in common too. As travelers, we share the need to explore, to experience the world’s complexity and diversity and vastness. We feel an undying need to learn the world’s languages, meet its people, sample its cuisine, and hear its music. Though separated by time, we are, essentially, the same. We are travelers.

Best wishes from the distant past,


p.s. Have you been promised flying cars your entire lives? So were we. Don’t hold your breath.