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Top 40 ways travel has changed since 1983 Top 40 ways travel has changed since 1983

40 ways travel has changed since 1983

We turn 40 this year and to celebrate we've been looking back at how much travel has changed over the past 40 years.

1. You can travel from Gatwick's North Terminal

The North Terminal at Gatwick was opened by the Queen in 1988. Before then you could only fly from the South. Or did South only become South after North opened?

2. You can fly from London City Airport

London City Airport didn't open until 1987, but since then it's become a key part of the UK's aviation industry, specialising in flights to mainland Europe.

3. You can use apps

It's no surprise that there weren't any apps in 1983 – it still feels like we only just got them. But actually we've had them since about 2008 – that's about 15 years if you can believe it.

4. We've got high-speed trains

This is still a work in progress, but our high-speed rail network makes it easier than ever to get to the capital. So all the more reason to take in a fabulous show and discover the countless attractions London has to offer.

5. E-readers

You don't need to dedicate half your luggage to books or spend a fortune in the terminal on new reading material when you can have access to entire libraries on one teeny tablet.

e-reader at the beach

6. Online bookings

You can book all aspects of your holiday online these days. But back then you had to pick up the landline telephone and call someone, or go to travel agent's to pick up a forest's worth of brochures. Or, if you were really ahead of the curve, you could book through Teletext – remember that?

7. Luggage restrictions

There were no luggage restrictions in the 1980s like we have today. You could pretty much take as much as you could carry. Fighting for space in the overhead lockers must've been very traumatic.

8. Online check-in

Checking in for your flight before you even get to the airport really is a game changer, especially if you're only taking a cabin bag as you can walk straight to security.

9. Check your own bags

If you do bring hold luggage you can check and weigh them yourself using the self-service machines. Combine that with online check-in and you can get to departures without ever interacting with another human.

10. You can book an airport hotel and parking together

Such a good idea. We like to think so at least. Getting to the airport the night before and not having to worry about the car makes the start of your holiday so much smoother.

Start your holiday early

Start your holiday a day early with an airport hotel the night before, with parking included while you're away.

Hotels with parking

11. Drive to the continent

You can drive to the Continent using the Channel Tunnel, which is a quicker alternative than using the ferry and is perfect for day trips to places like Bruges and Boulogne.

12. Instant news

You've got all the latest news from all around the world on your phone whenever you want it. Back in the 1980s your hotel might have had a small selection of newspapers from home, and you'd be lucky if they weren't a few days old.

13. Keeping in touch with people at home

If you want to keep up with everyone back home you don't need to pay extortionate fees to call them from your hotel room. Just video call them on wifi for free!

14. Instant photos

Take as many as you can fit on your phone and share them straight away. You don't have to send off a film to get developed into actual photographs and slides for you to bore your neighbours with.

15. Customer reviews

Now you can see exactly what other people thought of your hotel thanks to a wealth of review sites where people aren't afraid to hold back. In the 1980s you had to go in blind, unless you could convince your travel agent to let you take a peek at their secret 'truth book'.

16. Budget airlines

For better or worse, flying in the 1980s was seen as a luxury because it was so much more expensive. That's until budget airlines shook the industry, with both easyJet and Ryanair taxiing onto the scene in 1995.

17. Easy currency exchange

Travellers cheques who? No we don't remember them either. These days you can withdraw international currency while you're abroad, or just pay with your card. Better yet, take a currency card.

Get £10 free spending money

Find out how to get £10 free spending money with a Caxton FX travel money card.

Learn more

18. Veggie/vegan food options

In the 1980s plane food was not very nice – especially for those of us with dietary requirements. One good thing that has changed is the quality and variety of vegan and vegetarian options.

19. More inclusive airline staff

Some airlines in the 1980s had certain 'weight restrictions' on their stewardesses. That type of discrimination has pretty much gone now, flying the flag for a more inclusive cabin crew.

20. Better food on the plane

It's still not quite haute cuisine but it's definitely a lot better than it used to be. Plus with all the shops in the terminal you can buy yourself an absolute feast of snacks to keep you going through your journey.

21. Eurostar

If you don't fancy taking the car across the Channel, you could always go as a foot passenger instead, with the Eurostar offering services to Paris, Brussels and Lille in 1994.

22. Social media

Love it or hate it, social media has changed everything from how we interact with friends and family, to how we complain to tour operators – it's much quicker than sending a letter!

23. Electronic passport gates

This time-saving (when it works) bit of technology has made getting through passport control a breeze. The only downside is the walk of shame to the desk when you can't get the scanny thing to work properly.

24. Smoke-free flights

It's hard to believe that you could smoke on a plane back then. And even though there were separate areas it didn't stop the smoke circulating. Now we take for granted the absolute luxury of leaving the cabin not smelling like second-hand smoke.

25. Comfy plane attire

Air travel was a bit of a luxury before budget airlines came along, so of course you had to dress for the occasion. But fancy suits and shoulder pads just aren't as comfy as joggers and hoodies.

26. Lounges open to all passengers

Lounges used to equal luxury as only the most VIP travellers got to use them. These days lounges are open to everyone – they're actually a nifty way to save money.

Treat yourself to a free lounge

Most people tell us they spend more waiting in departures than they would have spent on a lounge

Treat yourself!

27. Don't need to change your watch

If your watch is smart enough it'll switch to local time as soon as you land, saving you a minor inconvenience and avoiding any confusion.

28. Wifi on planes

The 1980s didn't even have the internet, let alone wifi. And on a plane? Inconceivable. If you're lucky enough to be flying long haul you can use the wifi in the cabin on all your devices.

29. Infinite music and movies

You've got all your favourite music, films, TV and podcasts on your phone ready for long journeys. And if there's no wifi you can download them before you go.

30. Easy flight booking and comparisons

It wasn't easy to find your perfect flight, comparing dates and prices. You or your travel agent had to do it all manually – they didn't have Google to do it for them!

31. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris didn't open the gates to its magical kingdom until 1992, making it easier than ever to meet Mickey and explore the enchanting Disney universe. Take the Eurostar and it's just a train ride away.

Disneyland Paris

32. Portable gaming

The original Game Boy launched in 1989 and since then it's evolved into everyone's favourite nifty handheld, the Nintendo Switch. It's the perfect companion for long journeys.

33. You can visit these countries

South Sudan, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech Republic and a handful of other countries weren't a thing back then. More destinations to add to your bucket list.

34. These new buildings

Since 1983 a bunch of new buildings have changed the skylines of some of our favourite cities, including the glass pyramid at the Louvre, the London Eye, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which became the tallest building in the world in 2010.

35. You can go to space

Sort of. Industry titans like Virgin Galactic are starting to offer zero-gravity flights to those rich and brave enough. And don't worry if you're concerned about the cost – it includes a space suit so it's good value really.

36. Health insurance

UK citizens had free healthcare throughout the EU and other parts of Europe, and that's recently evolved into the GHIC, which enables us to get free healthcare even further afield. That's not an excuse to skip travel insurance though!

Feel protected on holiday

Holiday Extras' award-winning, flexible policies are here to help you travel hassle-free and with peace of mind.

Protect your holiday

37. Google Maps

You can have the whole world in your pocket, and plan your journey around it. No more relying on big paper maps you can never fold back properly or indecipherable timetables.

38. Flight trackers

You can track flights in real time these days, so you can keep up to date on any flight delays that might affect your trip. Plus it makes meeting someone at the airport so much more convenient.

39. Visit the remains of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, paving the way for German Reunification a year later. Large chunks of the wall still remain, making this already iconic city even more fascinating.

Berlin Wall

40. Security

Airport security has really upped its game since the 1980s – you can no longer do that rom-com run to the gate to catch your beloved before they board. But you can rest assured knowing you're as protected as possible when on the plane.