You’re probably wondering why I’m bothering to write about this in a travel blog. Well, I’m part of a special group of people. I am one of the last generations to remember a time before the Internet.
For my younger readers, there was once a time when I waited for mail to arrive each afternoon and had to watch whatever show was on television. Phones had dials, not touch screens.
When I first went online around 1994, I was ten years old. There was no Google — just googol. I still loved the Internet because it allowed me to explore destinations I hadn’t been yet. I had almost as much fun planning trips I’d never take as actually going on vacation.
Many people stayed within the walled garden of their ISP such as AOL or CompuServe, clicking through a series of links to reach their destination in a collection of curated content. But after I dialed into AOL (or, later on, used Netscape to access my dad’s ISDN) I would go to Yahoo! where the walls were slightly larger and included outside content. Search engines didn’t work so well back then, so I would opt to use the Yahoo! Directory.
Booking a flight meant clicking on the “Travel” link within “Recreation & Sports.”
Then I’d have to pick “Air Travel” and “Airlines” before finally reaching a menu four levels deep of airlines with websites where I could search for fares.
I don’t think easyJet or Ryanair existed back then, but neither does Continental Airlines exist today. You can see why directories would be difficult to keep updated. Apparently Yahoo! decided it wasn’t worth the effort — or at least not nearly as lucrative. Their directory is still largely ad-free. Compare that to the main home page where it’s difficult to tell what’s an ad and what is real news.
Anyway, thanks for indulging my old man stories. If you still want to go back and recreate the online travel experience of 1994, you’ll have until December 31.