Grandma’s House and a Century of Changing Travel


The holiday season is upon us. In just weeks many of us will be traveling to see relatives who reside not only over the river and through the wood but across the country – sometimes even around the world. Certainly, the way we travel to grandma’s house has changed a lot over the years. Since this time of year typically brings memories of yesteryear, take a trip down memory lane to travel of years gone by.

1911 – A century ago, traveling to grandma’s house meant hooking up a horse to a buggy and literally going over the river and through the woods to reach a close-by destination. Some lucky folks might take a steam train for traveling longer distances. Thinking about traveling the world? This adventure would only be possible for the very wealthy and would need to be done via  steam-powered ship

1920’s – The automobile gained in popularity as the preferred method of travel. In 1921, the milestone of more than ten million automobiles in the U.S. prompted President Harding to spend $75 million to improve the nation’s roads. The low cost and high freedom of automobile travel made visits to see distant relatives commonplace for the holidays – and beyond.

1930’s – The first intercontinental commercial airline flights were made available to people. But during the Great Depression, only the rich could afford such a luxury. Most people continued to travel by automobile or even train.

1950’s –Commercial jets debuted at an affordable rate. The world got smaller as more and more people traveled overseas and across country by air to visit relatives for the holidays.

1970’s – Flights became commonplace. The first jumbo jet was also introduced – a double-decker behemoth that boasted a spiral staircase and upstairs lounge area. But move over airlines– a new mode of transportation took hold across America. Amtrak came alive in 1971 and speedily connected everyone throughout major cities.

1980’s – Americans who travel with lots of luggage started to travel with ease. In 1987 Robert Plath invented the first suitcase with wheels and a pull-out handle.

1990’s – The ‘90’s ushered in a whole new era in how we travel. Booking a flight to grandma’s house could now be done online. The advent of the World Wide Web and online booking sites, made it easy to make travel plans with the click of a button. You could even send grandma your itinerary and date of your arrival via email.

2000’s to today – Air travel has now become a bit more complicated due to full body scans at the airport, and other enhanced security requirements. Still, many Americans choose to fly to their holiday destination. Booking new flights and making travel plans is now easier than ever with cell phone apps that cater to the everyday traveler.

The world of travel changed greatly in the last century. I wonder what changes the next century will bring? What do you think?

This entry was posted in Christmas travel, Family Travel, holiday travel, Travel Destination Planners, Travel Tips, Winter Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Grandma’s House and a Century of Changing Travel

  1. Sara S. says:

    Loved this blog! It’s so humbling to read about what travel was like so long ago. We complain when our flight is delayed an hour…but we take for granted the convenience of travel that we have today.

    I remember when I was younger my great aunt (who was born around 1908) used to talk about traveling by horse-drawn carriage to her grandparents house across the plains of Kansas. My great-Grandmother, a very independent woman who had been abandoned by her husband after WWI to raise 5 kids on her own, would set up the open wagon in the back of the carriage for the kids for the overnight ride. They traveled at night (I can’t remember the reason for that) and would use a lamp attached to the front to guide her. She would load it up with hay, heat a few bricks in a fire and wrap them in cloth to stick under the hay to keep warm. Then my grandpa and my great aunts & uncles would climb in the back with blankets and lay on their backs watching the stars pass by.

    Although I am sure it was a grueling and hard travel routine for my grandmother, it’s hard for me not to get swept up in the romanticized appeal of old fashioned travel in this hustle and flow world of travel we live in now.

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