Travellers have seen a lot of changes in the last couple of decades. Technology has connected the world in more ways than ever, and travel too, has become more accessible to people. With new conventions come new modes of travel and new ways to explore the world. To ring in 2020, let’s take a look at 20 ways travel has changed in the last 20 years!

1. How we’re inspired to travel


In the last 10 or so years, social media (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and others) has become a main source of travel inspiration. People still follow travel blogs, flip through travel magazines, or peruse travel journals, but social media tends to give more visual and instant triggers that we can connect with easily.

2. Being our own travel agents


Why make your way over to a brick-and-mortar travel agency when you can book your flights, accommodation, car rentals and tours yourself from the comfort of your home? The self-serve approach to booking trips via online travel agencies (OTAs) gives travellers more control (albeit more work) over their trip.

3. Being travel experts ourselves


With the plethora of online resources at our disposal, travellers have largely moved on from travel guide books (e.g. Lonely Planet or Fodor’s guides) and brochures to simple, straightforward Google searches when mapping out their trips and planning their itineraries.

4. Travelling on a budget

London Gatwick, March 15th, 2018: Passengers boarding an Airbus A320 easyJet airplane at London Gatwick's North Terminal

The emergence of low-cost carriers have made travelling on a budget accessible than ever before, for those who don’t mind a no-frills journey to their destination.

5. Staying in people’s homes

Loft bedroom design in the attic

The emergence of Airbnb, VRBO and other vacation rental platforms that cater to travellers’ varying tastes and budgets have given hotels, resorts and hostels a run for their money.

6. Getting around


Similar to vacation rentals, ride hailing services like Uber, Lyft and others have become travellers’ preferred choice when it comes to transportation, to the detriment of taxis.

 7. Expanding our plates and palates

Malaysia Street Hawker cooking Clay pot Chicken Rice in night market at Kuala Lumpur.

The influence of social media when it comes to culinary trends and exposure to world foods has certainly helped travellers’ dining habits evolve. Culinary tourism is a big draw in some countries, where travellers’ tastebuds seem to be a little more on the adventurous side these days.

8. The things we pack in our luggage

Preparing for trip. Young man packing clothing for vacation, flip flop, camera and other things on hardwood floor.

We probably take the same things travellers 20 years ago packed in their suitcases—only, a lot of things fit in our devices now, reducing clutter and freeing up space for more souvenirs to take home.

9. Connecting to the world—while travelling around it

Male hiker having a drink while he's using a laptop on a rock near a lake in the mountain.

These days, we can stay connected on our phones, tablets and laptops wherever we go, so long as there’s WiFi or data coverage. But connectivity is a double-edged sword; we can look things up on-the-go, and it can also distract us from living in the moment while travelling.

10. Mobile phones—the traveller’s best friend


Smart phones have changed the way we travel. Not only do travellers carry the internet in their pockets, but they do everything related to their trips on it too, with different apps for navigation, photography, accommodation booking, transportation, dining, activities, and so on.

11. The world in our pockets


Google Maps has become one of the most important tools you’ll ever need on your phone while travelling. Not only has this digital, interactive map replaced clumsy paper maps when navigating the unknown, but it’s also a good way to discover nearby places of interest when you turn on location tracking.

12. Staying current with currency

Smiling couple buying fresh eggs and paying contactless with smartphone

Cashless methods of payment like credit cards, stored-value prepaid cards and digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and others have become the norm in many places around the world. Gone are the days of travellers cheques and carrying too much foreign cash in your fanny packs!

13. Keeping ourselves entertained

Girl friends in the airplane

Keeping ourselves entertained during long-haul flights, layovers and times in transit has never been easier. Travellers can stream music, movies and TV shows, or load up on ebooks, audiobooks and podcasts to keep themselves busy during downtime and stave off boredom.

14. Documenting moments & memories

Young Asian Traveller

Thanks to high-quality cameras on iPhones and Android devices, DSLR, mirrorless, compact cameras, GoPros and even drones, everyone can be a photographer and beautifully document their own special moments while travelling.

15. Getting un-lost in translation

Young adult businessman sending a voicemail with smartphone in the city

Today’s apps like Google Translate and dedicated devices help travellers almost effortlessly converse with locals in places where they don’t speak the native language. It’s a lot more convenient than flipping through pages of pocket dictionaries and phrase books mid-conversation.

16. Recommendations from strangers

Woman using here phone to send emails and the review the schedule for the day

Admit it: we’re more likely to try/not try restaurants, stores, accommodations and other services based on the reviews—and number of reviews—from strangers than listen to (some) of our own friends with questionable taste.

17. Sending postcards & letters

"An excited handwritten postcard sent from Grenoble, France, in 1978."

We don’t send too many postcards back home these days; instant messages and posting travel photos instantaneously on social media has in some ways replaced this lost art!

18. Working abroad

Freelance woman working from the van while taking a road trip

Several years ago, ‘working abroad’ might have meant packing your resume in your suitcase or being sent by your company to work offshore. Nowadays, digital nomads can travel the world for both business and pleasure. Because they work remotely, they’re not necessarily tied down to one foreign place, either.

19. Travelling green

closeup of a young caucasian man with a world globe wrapped in bubble wrap in his hands

Sustainable methods of travel have become a necessary response to the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and communities. With luck, green travel will bring environmental consciousness to more travellers’ minds and itineraries, and therefore travel habits.

20. Valuing experiences such as travel over material possessions


There’s a growing trend among younger generations of travellers to divert their resources towards experiences rather than possessions. More and more people are willing to spend their hard-earned money on travel, which often results in priceless, meaningful experiences they can take with them, wherever they go.


How Travel Has Changed in the Last 20 Years

Dec 27 2019