A Look into how We Travelled (India) before Internet, Smart Phones & Google Maps ~ Pre-Internet Era Travel & My Travel Experience during Pre-Internet Era
Part- 1 – How We Travelled
Technology has brought a big shift in the way we travelled. The Internet, Smart Phones and Google Maps have brought a tremendous change in our travel style. Travel Planning and booking can be made online. Things were not same before. Have you ever wondered, how things before were. Even then People traveled in the absence of all these. Each and Every one had their own way and they travelled.
Now let’s take a look at how people travelled before the pre-Internet Era:
Travel Planning: Travel Planning were made by looking at various travel guides that mentioned important sightseeing place. In case the visiting place was not a popular tourist destination of which the travel guide was not available, In that case we referred the Travel Information Cards which were available in the Hotels of that city. We referred these information cards/ sheets to know about important sightseeing places of that City. Even though such travel guides are now available (Lonely Planet), only few people (hard-copy) buy and use them. Now all the information is available in one click or one search. See what a difference Technology has made.
Navigation: The long distance journey was made looking at maps. Long distance travel was mostly by National / State Highway / Bypass Road. We looked at the maps and the signboards on the road and then took the help of people on roads in case we had any doubts. City Road guides and Road maps (High Level) of small cities in India were available as early as the 90s. After the year 2000, the Road Atlas which had the minor details of Major Cities were available (Eicher, MapMyIndia) and those became really helpful. We used to ask relatives or friends (Who had travelled before / who knew about the place) and write down all the important places / diversions required along the way. Now with the introduction of Navigation of Google Maps / Online Maps & Internet, Navigation has become much easier. Still there are instances when Google Map cheats (In India few routes are still not accurate).
Hotel Booking: If the Travel was to a city or during the tourist season (if we had been there / ask someone know about the destination, get the number from them) we used to call the hotel and book. Otherwise we used to reach the destination and go to the hotel and book directly. But there were many instances when we could not find a room (as a prior reservation was not made). It could be either because of some exam in the city or because it is tourist season or some event in the city.
Railway Timetable: Zone wise Railway Time tables and Trains at a Glance published by Indian Railways were available. This book had all the information about timings and stops of all long distance trains. Zonal Railway Time Table had information about all the trains (Mail/ Express/ Local) which were providing service inside the zone. It was looking at these information, Long distance travel planning was made when there was a need to depend on connection trains. For example, In those days there were no direct train from Thalassery (A Station in Kerala which comes under Southern Railway) to Kolkata / Hyderabad, We had to go to Madras(Now, Chennai) and take another train from there. This book was very useful for planning such trips.
Train reservation: We had to go to the nearest major railway station directly to book a ticket. Each station had a seat / berth quota and the tickets were assigned/ issued accordingly. It was Thick Card Tickets (Edmondson railway ticket) then (even now small halt stations issue these kinds of tickets). Indian Railways started Computerized Reservation after 1986. But Computerized Reservation was limited to few Major Cities of India. Then it was in early 90’s computer reservation and computer printed tickets came into being. However reserving a train of other zones was not possible even then. Another major hurdle was for reserving a ticket, a visit to the Railway Station was essential as it was not made available online. One had to go to the station and stand in queue to reserve the ticket (on some, reservation were to be made sixty / ninety days in advance to get the ticket confirmed). With the advent of online reservation (and internet speed) all this can be done at home.
Flight Booking: Flight timing and flight ticket booking were made through the travel agency / airline office. It was a paper ticket / booklet then.