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National Boards => General Highway Talk => Topic started by: ce929wax on February 06, 2019, 05:30:53 PM

Title: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: ce929wax on February 06, 2019, 05:30:53 PM
I'm curious to know how travel was in the good old days?  How were breakdowns and other mishaps handled before we had cell phones?  How were the roads and signs different than they are now?  I'm also interested in general road trip stories from yesteryear.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 06, 2019, 05:47:51 PM
It was a pain in the ass finding a hotel that had vacancies.  Being able to look up hotels and reserve stuff on online is a huge help, especially on longer trips to places like National Parks.  It wasn’t too uncommon just to park overnight on an off-ramp, rest area or gas station for me until the 2000s. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: GaryV on February 06, 2019, 06:15:50 PM
It took 6 months or more to get to Oregon and California - that's if you didn't get stranded in the mountains and had to eat your fellow travelers.  And if something big broke down, you salvaged all the stuff you could and hoped you could put it in someone else's wagon.

Oh, you didn't mean that old of good old days?

I agree making reservations was hit and miss.  When I was 5 our family went to Florida.  (Pre- Disney, and Busch Gardens had some penguins and one elephant, no rides, just the brewery tour.)  One night we ended up only 5 miles from where we had started the day, as my dad couldn't find anything available.  Turns out there was a race in Sebring.  And you couldn't go any farther south to find accommodations because then you were in the Everglades.  In my little 5 year old brain, I could have sworn I fell asleep in a room with different color curtains than when we woke up.

Travel took longer too.  We spent at least 3 nights on the road each way from MI to FL - although part of that was because we stopped to see things and people.

When we first got married, you had to rely on AAA books to find places, and then call them up (dialing, paying for long distance) on a telephone to see if they had any rooms.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: oscar on February 06, 2019, 07:02:35 PM
When we first got married, you had to rely on AAA books to find places, and then call them up (dialing, paying for long distance) on a telephone to see if they had any rooms.

Aside from the AAA TourBooks, there were also the paper directories put out by individual hotel/motel chains. I think Motel 6 is still putting them out, or if it gave them up it's probably the last company to do so. Until a few years ago, I had several chain directories in my cars' map pockets. Now, my current favorite chains so often open new locations and close/replace old ones, they don't bother with paper directories that quickly go out of date.

Also, pay at the pump at gas stations is an improvement over having to go inside to pay at a cashier (or pay an attendant, at full-serve stations). This improvement is more pronounced for U.S. travelers in Canada, now that U.S.-issued credit cards more often have chips in them. It used to be U.S. travelers often couldn't pay at the pump in Canada, because the pump asked for a six-character postal code and your five-digit ZIP code didn't work.

Heck, self-serve used to be much less prevalent than nowadays. Gas station attendants used to wash your windshield, check your oil and tire pressures (a more necessary task back then, with cars leaking/burning more oil, and without automatic tire pressure monitoring), and sometimes hand out free maps. And gas stations advertised their clean restrooms (I have a 1959 Rand McNally/Texaco road atlas featuring such advertising), as compared to nowadays where having any restrooms at all can be hit-or-miss.

I've been doing road trips since 1986, and am scratching my head about other things that were different about 20th century travel.

As for air travel, Southwest was a positive development, TSA not so much.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Rothman on February 06, 2019, 10:51:49 PM
When my parents moved from UT to IN in 1975, pulling a trailer with a Plymouth Duster (if memory serves), they made reservations at a couple of places.  Because they overloaded the trailer, they had problems getting through the Rockies and missed every reservation they made.  Oh, and my mother was pregnant with me.

So, because of that experience, my parents never made reservations anywhere.  Typically, we spent a decent amount of time on our road trips not just finding a hotel, but a hotel with a price my parents were willing to pay (they also looked for the AAA signs).  Three experiences stick out in my mind:

1)  One summer weekend we were in Reno.  My parents assumed there was an abundance of hotel rooms, but the place was sold out.  Spent the night sleeping in the minivan in an RV park between Reno and Carson City.

2)  My father was tired of trying to find a place in Maine once.  He just picked a place that ended up being cheap...and disgusting.  In the morning, the guy behind the desk revealed that most customers of his paid by the hour.

3)  Car broke down at some interstate's interchange with U.S. 30 when I was quite young (I remember the BGS saying "Lincoln Hwy" under the shield). I remember one of my parents walking down the exit ramp to go find a phone or garage.  That experience led me to be an AAA plus member.

So, yeah, things took time back then and it was harder to get a tow than in the era of cell phones.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 06, 2019, 11:46:11 PM
It took 6 months or more to get to Oregon and California - that's if you didn't get stranded in the mountains and had to eat your fellow travelers.  And if something big broke down, you salvaged all the stuff you could and hoped you could put it in someone else's wagon.

Or worse you listen to a guy named Hastings about his new "shorter" cut-off route that makes you miss getting over Donner Pass for the winter.  The follow up would be taking a guide through inhabited desert several years later trying to avoid the route of the Donner Party only to accidentally discover Death Valley.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: dlsterner on February 07, 2019, 12:04:52 AM
Some memories of car travel from the late 1960's and early 70's ...

My father was a AAA member.  Since the nearest AAA office was (back then) about 50 miles away we had to order the maps and TourBooks and have them mailed to us.  We also stayed at Holiday Inns exclusively.  Being one of the few chains in existence, we could make advance reservations for the whole trip, and since most of them were very similar, we knew what we were getting.  Oh, and back then virtually all motels had exterior doors, whereas today most of the places I favor have interior doors.  Of course, if you had a ground floor room back then, you could literally park with your car trunk three feet from your door.  We could also count on the motel having a restaurant open for dinner and breakfast, as well as a pool for us kids for blowing off steam.

We also exclusively used Gulf gas stations.  Back then, Holiday Inn had an agreement with Gulf to accept their credit card for lodging.  We would watch billboards looking for upcoming Gulf stations.  It was always full-service back then, with an attendant pumping gas and cleaning our windshield while we all went to pee.  Fast food back then was mostly concentrated in the towns, there was very little out by the interstates.  We ended up eating at Stuckey's a lot; it was one of the few restaurants visible from the interstate.

And speaking of the interstates, there were plenty of gaps in the system back then.  It was common to occasionally hop off the interstate to the parallel US route and travel that until the interstate resumed.  In fact, much of the excitement of getting the new maps was discovering that a new segment of one of the interstates had opened.

This is kind of fun, re-living these memories ...
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Henry on February 07, 2019, 10:05:25 AM
Chicago was the northern/eastern terminus for Route 66, so it was only fair that my parents use it as a starting point for road trips out west. We avoided the interstates where we could, and stayed at the fabulous motels along the way. This was when virtually all businesses had neon signs advertising them, and it was far better than the generic versions that are there now. And I found the rotating signs (usually found at gas stations) to be very cool as well. Not to mention that we never left home without our Rand McNally atlases, and that our cars of choice were Oldsmobiles (a Cutlass convertible for my dad, and a new Calais, which was a high school graduation gift, for me when I retraced the routing of my childhood during my first solo roadtrip to Los Angeles).
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: jeffandnicole on February 07, 2019, 10:16:01 AM
You used paper maps, studied where you were going to go, and prepared your route beforehand.

Blue signs and billboard on the highways helped you find gas and places to eat.  But you couldn't determine if the next exit had cheaper gas or not without apps.

My dad mentioned the story a few times of them going on a trip and their car breaking down.  They got it to a local repair shop.  The owner just lent his car out to them to continue the trip.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 07, 2019, 11:54:50 AM
1.  Rand McNally was king of the road before Google Maps.  This meant several things.  First of all, if two highways only appeared to intersect in a given town, but instead another connecting road was required, then you wouldn't know that ahead of time.  Secondly, calculating drive time involved actual math:  miles ÷ speed limit = hours, and then you would tack on additional time based on how much you expected city traffic to slow you down.  Thirdly, I tended to plan pit stops in bigger towns (where I could reasonably expect to find decent gas stations and fast-food restaurants) back then, whereas now I have the ability to search for decent pit stops in small towns or even middle-of-nowhere stretches of highway instead.  Back then, billboards and blue services signs were how we decided where to eat.

2.  Pay-at-the-pump was not a thing.  oscar said it's more convenient nowadays because of pay-at-the-pump, but that's only true if you pay for gas on a credit card.  With cash, it was more convenient back then, because you only had to go inside once.  Nowadays you go inside, put your money down, pump your gas, then go back inside again for your change.

3.  Brand loyalty was more of a thing, especially when it came to lodging.  Nowadays, you can look up user reviews and prices for individual hotels.  Back then, you simply trusted what hotel chain had been good for you in other cities in the past.  Sometimes that worked out OK, but other times you ended up somewhere junky just because it had the right sign outside.

4.  I only remember my parents' car breaking down twice back before ubiquitous cell phones.  Once was a flat tire in Michigan, so my dad just changed that himself on the side of the road.  The other was a bad alternator on K-383 northeast of Norton (KS) on our way to Chicago.  My dad hitched a ride back into town to find a mechanic, while the rest of us waited with the car on the side of the road.  That's actually not been any different than the times I've broken down on road trips during the age of cell phones.  Of the two times I've had a major mechanical failure while on the road in the last ten years, once was in Mexico and we enlisted the help of two hitchhikers to find a local mechanic somewhere down the road, and the other was in a cell phone dead zone in western Colorado and we got help from some truckers.

5.  Watching movies in the car wasn't a thing yet.  Kids had travel-size games, word search books, and stuff to keep them entertained.

6.  I don't recall anyone ever making a reservation for a campsite.  Maybe that didn't exist by phone back then, or maybe people just didn't know about it.  So finding an open campsite at a state park was hit or miss.  In unfamiliar territory, you also had to just assume that a state park would be decent, which isn't necessarily the case.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 07, 2019, 12:24:16 PM
How were breakdowns and other mishaps handled before we had cell phones?
Your choices were:
(1) raise the hood of your car, hope a cop drove past and saw you
(2) walk to the nearest service station
(3) [starting in the 1980s or so] walk to the nearest motorist assistance call box, if there was one
(4) repair the car yourself

We had an experience similar to kphoger's on a road trip in the early 90s, where we got a flat tire on our Plymouth Voyager on the Outer Belt of the Capital Beltway somewhere between I-270 and I-95 in Virginia, and my dad had to change it himself.

Preparing for road trips meant checking out the most recent edition of the relevant Mobil Travel Guide from the library and calling motels at our destination/along the way.  Planning the trip and stops along the way was done with a road atlas and a ruler, although, by the late 80s or early 90s, you could call Allstate Motor Club, give them your origin and destination, and they'd send you a printout of the fastest route (basically what I would do on MapQuest and, later, Google Maps between the early 2000s and when I got my first iPhone and started using the Google Maps app).
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 07, 2019, 12:45:30 PM
I should mention that, even though my cell phone was no use to me on the two occasions I was stranded along the side of a highway, it still came in handy later on as part of the solution.

In Mexico, once we had found a mechanic the old-fashioned way (by asking locals at every village we came to), the mechanic had us drive to Saltillo to pick up the new part for him (we had been traveling with two vehicles, and only one broke down).  On our way into town, I used my cell phone to dial the 01-800 number and unlock our debit card for international charges; otherwise, it likely would have been declined at AutoZone.

In Colorado, we were able to limp into Grand Junction after the truckers had helped us out, where finding a decent motel was smart-phone-assisted.  Then, once checked into a motel, finding a decent mechanic was similarly smart-phone-assisted—as was figuring out the local bus network, which allowed us to visit a museum while our car was in the shop for a couple of days.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: PAHighways on February 07, 2019, 04:50:54 PM
You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.  If it utilized a ticket system like Pennsylvania's, you made sure not to lose it or else you were paying the toll to the farthest interchange.

There were no logo service sign boards, just general "FOOD - GAS - LODGING."

SM-G965U

Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 07, 2019, 04:55:18 PM
You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.

This is still true today.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 07, 2019, 04:57:22 PM
How were breakdowns and other mishaps handled before we had cell phones?
Your choices were:
(1) raise the hood of your car, hope a cop drove past and saw you
(2) walk to the nearest service station
(3) [starting in the 1980s or so] walk to the nearest motorist assistance call box, if there was one
(4) repair the car yourself

Hell a good chunk of the roadways I travel on you won't find any help aside from what you have in your trunk.  That kind of thing was typical on pretty much every roadway until probably the early 2000s when cell phones became common.  I still rather carry a set of jumper cables and full size spare than have to rely on calling someone for help.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: PAHighways on February 07, 2019, 04:59:55 PM
You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.

This is still true today.
Besides ETC, there is now toll-by-plate and some roads that accept credit cards.

SM-G965U

Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 07, 2019, 05:03:20 PM
You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.

This is still true today.

A good chunk of toll roads are all electronic toll-by-plate these days.  I found that to be the case just this past month in the Tampa Area.  The rental car agencies just off toll-by-plate as part of the rental agreement nowadays. 

What has changed since the old days was having to carry a fist full of quarters and coins for exact change booths.  Those quarters have migrated to usually several dollars at minimum, especially on the East Coast.  Back in 2014 I pretty shocked by how high the tolls on I-95 in Maryland had gotten since the early 1990s. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 07, 2019, 05:05:03 PM


You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.

This is still true today.

Besides ETC, there is now toll-by-plate and some roads that accept credit cards.

I know that.  But most people on a road trip without a toll transponder still carry extra cash with them for tolls.  Heck, if they don't about interoperability, I bet a lot of them with toll transponders do as well.

What has changed since the old days was having to carry a fist full of quarters and coins for exact change booths.  Those quarters have migrated to usually several dollars at minimum, especially on the East Coast.  Back in 2014 I pretty shocked by how high the tolls on I-95 in Maryland had gotten since the early 1990s. 

Drive the turnpikes in Oklahoma, and those quarters still come in handy for the exact-change baskets.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Brandon on February 07, 2019, 05:07:05 PM
Drive the turnpikes in Oklahoma, and those quarters still come in handy for the exact-change baskets.

Yeah, it feels like Illinois...in the 1990s.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 07, 2019, 05:51:37 PM
The tollway and Pace bus....  how I got rid of pennies and nickels back in the 2000s.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 07, 2019, 06:32:15 PM


You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.

This is still true today.

What has changed since the old days was having to carry a fist full of quarters and coins for exact change booths.  Those quarters have migrated to usually several dollars at minimum, especially on the East Coast.  Back in 2014 I pretty shocked by how high the tolls on I-95 in Maryland had gotten since the early 1990s. 

Drive the turnpikes in Oklahoma, and those quarters still come in handy for the exact-change baskets.

Hell it made me appreciate how relatively cheap the tolls in Florida were when I lived there by comparison. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: briantroutman on February 07, 2019, 11:10:46 PM
You had to make sure you had extra money on you if you were traveling a toll road.

That wasn’t too terribly long ago... I recall from my earliest days of driving (early 2000s, before I signed up for E-ZPass) the sinking feeling of having entered the Turnpike only to realize that I didn’t have any cash on me. I remember at least once needing to go far out of my way to the nearest service plaza so I could stop at an ATM and get cash.

But in addition to needing cash for tolls, let’s consider what interstate traveling was like prior to the proliferation of major credit cards and ATMs—long before my time. If you were headed out on a long-distance road trip, you’d possibly be withdrawing several hundred dollars or more in cash to cover hotels, meals, fuel, and incidental expenses over the entire duration of the journey. Banks were much more local/regional in nature than they are today, so the idea of making a withdrawal from your own bank several states away was almost unheard of. You might buy traveler’s cheques to protect the bulk of the total, but it’s my understanding that even in the heyday of traveler’s checks, they were far from universally accepted. So you’d possibly try to break a few cheques at your hotel or another business that catered to travelers, leaving plenty of cash on hand for other expenses along the way.

Having a BankAmericard (Visa), Master Charge (MasterCard), Diners Club, or American Express card was something of a status symbol up through the early ’80s. If you were a member of the masses, you likely had an oil company credit card, however, and you might seek out whatever gasoline brand was on your credit card to conserve your precious supply of cash. Since most oil companies had limited territories, their credit cards sometimes had reciprocity with other brands—but only certain brands in certain areas (https://www.picclickimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNTk5/z/7TgAAOSwoU9X8EQH/$/Vintage-1972-ESSO-HUMBLE-OIL-CO-CREDIT-Charge-_57.jpg). Some also had agreements with individual hotel chains, too (like Gulf with Holiday Inn (http://auction.graceland.com/ItemImages/000003/3324b_lg.jpeg)). But if you didn’t plan your stops carefully, you might need to dig into your limited cash reserves.

I have to imagine that there were some nervous moments with people a thousand miles from home realizing that they were running low on cash...perhaps searching frantically on an empty tank for a Gulf station or driving all night to reach the next Holiday Inn because it was the only accommodation their credit card could buy.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: ce929wax on February 07, 2019, 11:27:09 PM
My personal experiences in travel are from the late 1990s until now.  I remember taking a trip to Cincinnati around 1991 or so, but the only things I specifically remember from that trip are that we drove my brothers tan Colt Vista van and my brother asking to stop at McDonalds and my Mom telling him that she didn't have any cash.  When we traveled later on, my parents (Mom and Step-Dad) always had some kind of cell phone and some kind of debit/credit card.  I have personally never traveled with any cash, except for loose or petty cash.  The only mishap I have ever had was a flat tire in Kentucky, but that was in 2012 and I was able to get help fairly quickly, although I had a mishap with my bank. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Beltway on February 07, 2019, 11:31:51 PM
I saw lots of car accidents back in the days before Interstate highways.  On a trip from Chicago to Florida, I saw at least 10 accidents.  These were accidents that had already happened, with major property damage, but not sure if any of them had injuries.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: sparker on February 08, 2019, 02:16:24 AM
Even before the web became the predominant way to pre-book lodging, getting a long cross-country trip set up in advance over the phone (usually with toll-free numbers) was a quantum leap from my first experience with my parents back in the summer of '60 (when I was 10 -- but still the default "navigator" for such a trip -- armed with my trusty Gousha atlas!).  That was a "on the fly" experience when it came time to locate overnight rooms (L.A. to St. Louis and return; completely different routes each way due to relative-visiting on the return leg).  Some motels were fine; others -- in a word, sucked (pretty much any out on the Great Plains); this was prior to the domination of the field by consistent-quality chains.  Interesting trip -- very sporadic stretches of Interstate (70 near Abilene, KS and into St. Louis; a few miles of 44 near Springfield, MO, and a bit of 40 west of Santa Rosa, NM), with most of the trip on 2-lane highways, with some "conventional" divided 4-lane (US 287 in the Panhandle of TX and US 66 across the Continental Divide are etched in memory).  One of the more memorable moments:  a "stampede" of tarantulas across US 70 west of Waurika, OK (my mom's reaction: "....Eww -- they're gonna get squished all over the tires.  Bleah!").  Don't remember much about the food on the trip; at age 10 if you provided me with a decent hamburger or a chili dog (having grown up with Tommy's chiliburgers and chili dogs as a L.A. kid) I was just fine!  I'm a bit pickier these days (for better or worse).   
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: PHLBOS on February 08, 2019, 11:29:08 AM
You might buy traveler’s cheques to protect the bulk of the total, but it’s my understanding that even in the heyday of traveler’s checks, they were far from universally accepted. So you’d possibly try to break a few cheques at your hotel or another business that catered to travelers, leaving plenty of cash on hand for other expenses along the way.
Supposedly, American Express Travelers Cheques' claim to fame was that theirs were more universally accepted and were protected due to loss and/or theft.  Growing up in the 70s & 80s; it was not uncommon to see/hear one of their TV and radio commercials with Karl Malden.  The below-one is from 1978:

Having a BankAmericard (Visa), Master Charge (MasterCard), Diners Club, or American Express card was something of a status symbol up through the early ’80s.
IIRC, BankAmericard/VISA and Master Charge/Card were already becoming more widely used by/available to the general public during the early 1980s.  American Express, the original version, was still more exclusive because one had to pay the full balance every month.  Does Diner's Club still even exist now?   

I have to imagine that there were some nervous moments with people a thousand miles from home realizing that they were running low on cash...perhaps searching frantically on an empty tank for a Gulf station or driving all night to reach the next Holiday Inn because it was the only accommodation their credit card could buy.
True story from the mid-1970s: while on a family day-trip to Manchester (By The Sea), MA; my father was frantically checking out nearly every restaurant to see which one(s) would accept then-Master Charge.  Apparently, he did not carry too much cash with him at the time.  Major oops for back then.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 08, 2019, 12:14:53 PM
Apparently, he did not carry too much cash with him at the time.  Major oops for back then.
And don't forget how hard it was to get cash back before ATMs were commonplace.  Your only real options were (a) pay a usurious fee at a check-cashing store or (b) write a check for over the amount of the purchase at a grocery store.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: vdeane on February 08, 2019, 12:59:38 PM
Does Diner's Club still even exist now?
It's part of Discover.  I believe the Diner's Club branding is still used outside the US.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 08, 2019, 02:42:20 PM
Does Diner's Club still even exist now?
It's part of Discover.  I believe the Diner's Club branding is still used outside the US.
Yes, Discover bought Diners Club to boost international acceptance.  The way it was explained to me was "You know how David Hasselhoff is popular in Germany and nowhere else?  Well, Diners Club is the David Hasselhoff of Japan."
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 08, 2019, 02:43:22 PM
The Players Club card is long gone, though; I believe the last cardholder was Moe Szyslak on The Simpsons.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Sctvhound on February 08, 2019, 04:56:02 PM
I’m 27 and I remember the very last of the “good old days” in the late 90s. We’d carry hotel directories with us on long trips (like down to FL from SC or over to NJ). We’d always stop at a “big exit” with a lot of hotel/restaurant choices.

My dad was a fan of Holiday Inn Express, later Hampton Inn because you knew what you were getting and the rooms were clean.

What was harder during this time was radio stations. You actually had to scan the dial looking for something you liked (unless you had a CD player or wanted to play cassettes). My dad liked (still likes) oldies music, and you had to flip the channel every 50-60 miles when you went out of range.

Clear channel AM stations actually had a listenership outside their markets into the 70s and 80s. The FM band wasn’t littered with stations like it is now, and many of the stations actually signed off late at night. That was how some of those “truckers” shows developed on stations like WLW (Cincinnati) and WWL (New Orleans). Those stations carried for hundreds of miles across the country, and provided a major service.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 08, 2019, 05:08:35 PM
What was harder during this time was radio stations. You actually had to scan the dial looking for something you liked (unless you had a CD player or wanted to play cassettes).

??

How is this "back in the good old days"?  Do you think everyone has satellite radio or something?  We still flip through the radio stations when we want some music.  Or we put in a CD.  Or, until just a few years ago when we traded in our car, we'd put in a cassette tape.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 08, 2019, 09:29:22 PM
What was harder during this time was radio stations. You actually had to scan the dial looking for something you liked (unless you had a CD player or wanted to play cassettes).

??

How is this "back in the good old days"?  Do you think everyone has satellite radio or something?  We still flip through the radio stations when we want some music.  Or we put in a CD.  Or, until just a few years ago when we traded in our car, we'd put in a cassette tape.

Hell, it wasn't very uncommon to find cars until the 1980s that didn't have an AM/FM radio as a standard option. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: ErmineNotyours on February 10, 2019, 05:45:39 PM
In 2012 my sister rented a car in Orlando with a transponder, but insisted on throwing money at the problem, literally throwing quarters at the exact change baskets and having most of them miss.  Big signs said "STAY IN CAR" and there were lots of quarters on the ground.  And there were at least two different booths between the airport and Disney World.  What, do they think just because we don't live there we can't vote against them gouging us?  Grrr.  I don't know what the extra fee was for just flipping on the transponder, but I would have paid it.

(That being said, I can't find any Street View examples of such pay baskets, even with imagery going back to 2011)
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: sparker on February 10, 2019, 06:13:34 PM
What was harder during this time was radio stations. You actually had to scan the dial looking for something you liked (unless you had a CD player or wanted to play cassettes).

??

How is this "back in the good old days"?  Do you think everyone has satellite radio or something?  We still flip through the radio stations when we want some music.  Or we put in a CD.  Or, until just a few years ago when we traded in our car, we'd put in a cassette tape.

When I was doing 2-3 cross-country trips a year in the late '80's and early '90's, I'd try to locate a radio station (invariably AM) that had regular traffic reports when approaching a major metro area.  This was pre-search-engine, of course, so if I had time, I'd do some pre-trip research and locate the CBS affiliate in each area, since they were more apt than others to maintain a news/traffic format.  Helped me navigate several problem areas -- one time I went south around Columbus on I-270 when they were working on 70 through town, as reported on radio.  The rest of the time I just popped in cassettes; couldn't depend upon stations in rural areas to play my preference for 60's/70's rock. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Brian556 on February 10, 2019, 08:32:27 PM
Back in the 80's and even 90's, when I was a kid, travel was way better cuz there was far less traffic. Overpopulation has ruined automobile travel. Another thing that has made is far worse is excessive truck traffic. In the old days, more goods were hauled by train=far less trucks on the road.

Truck drivers are way less compotent and polite compared to the past. There are tons of truck accidents as a result. They block the left lane for 20 miles and dont care.

As far as accidents go, when I was a kid, you could drive 1000 miles and not see one. Now they are everywhere.

Lane closures on rural interstates never ever caused congestion in the old days. They do now.

I like the manual toll collection methods of the past. They were actually fair because everybody paid the same price.

You guys that mentioned gas pumps that dont take credit cards. They still have tons of those in Oklahoma. Its like going back 30-40 years in time.

In conclusion, web-based hotel reservations are the only thing about automobile travel that has gotten better since I was a kid. Everything else is worse.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: 1995hoo on February 10, 2019, 08:40:28 PM
Once upon a time, gas stations generally didn’t take credit cards other than their own oil company’s card, and even then they charged you extra to use it. The oil company cards were not co-branded cards like you see now (such as, say, a Shell MasterCard that you could use at places other than Shell)—they were specific to the particular brand of gas, so you could use your Exxon card at Exxon stations (and Esso in Canada) but you couldn’t use it at Shell or Mobil or Texaco, and you couldn’t use American Express or VISA at a gas station.

Nowadays I find it damn annoying how gas stations in South Carolina persist in charging more to pay with plastic. I try to avoid refuelling in South Carolina for that reason.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: 1 on February 10, 2019, 09:01:45 PM
Nowadays I find it damn annoying how gas stations in South Carolina persist in charging more to pay with plastic. I try to avoid refuelling in South Carolina for that reason.

I didn't think that was state-specific. About 30% do that in Massachusetts.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: 1995hoo on February 10, 2019, 09:03:16 PM
Nowadays I find it damn annoying how gas stations in South Carolina persist in charging more to pay with plastic. I try to avoid refuelling in South Carolina for that reason.

I didn't think that was state-specific. About 30% do that in Massachusetts.

Might be. I cited South Carolina because that’s the only place where I generally encounter it. I haven’t driven through Massachusetts since July 2008.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: vdeane on February 10, 2019, 09:37:53 PM
As far as I can tell, gas stations charging more for credit cards is getting more common, not less.  Used to be virtually unheard of in NY, but now it's pretty common.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: jeffandnicole on February 10, 2019, 09:55:22 PM
(That being said, I can't find any Street View examples of such pay baskets, even with imagery going back to 2011)

Here's a basic example of a coin basket on the Garden State Parkway in NJ:
https://goo.gl/maps/QHib8i6GF9Q2

Quote
Travelers Checks & Credit Cards

These two go hand in hand. I never remember having an issue with my dad handing over a traveler's check on our trips anywhere...but that was certainly in the times before credit cards were popular or widely accepted. He had a MasterCard but rarely used it. As cards became accepted almost anywhere, travelers checks became less common. Credit cards were also a pain to use, with the carbon copy paper, then carbonless paper. The retailer then had to send the credit card receipts somewhere to eventually get their money. Today, that's done no less once a day, automatically. The retailer has their money as soon as the next day.

On a Las Vegas forum I frequent, international travelers seem to somewhat frequently ask about travelers checks and if they can be used. Usually, responders just say use credit cards. I'm sure many people have never seen a travelers check.

Realize today, you don't even show the credit card to the cashier as you slide it yourself. Many businesses assume most people are paying with credit cards. Cash is today's hassle, not cards.

On my days working the NJ Turnpike, I had one person try to pay with a travelers check. I refused to take it. He argued with me that he already signed it, it that was his fault for assuming I'd just take a travelers check.

Nowadays I find it damn annoying how gas stations in South Carolina persist in charging more to pay with plastic. I try to avoid refuelling in South Carolina for that reason.

I didn't think that was state-specific. About 30% do that in Massachusetts.

Might be. I cited South Carolina because that’s the only place where I generally encounter it. I haven’t driven through Massachusetts since July 2008.

New Jersey is a state where many gas stations have a "discount for cash". Never mind the cash rate is the same as every other station, and the credit price is higher than every other station. That's how the retailers have to term it though.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: ctkatz on February 11, 2019, 06:05:24 AM
when we went on trips when I was younger, they were always to family's places and in terms of road trips were quick trips (to columbus and birmingham from louisville) and rather direct routes by just using 71 or 65.  but the one road trip we took to the grand canyon pretty much set my love for the Road Trip. this was back in 1994 during peak oj trial.  my parents had planned out the hotel stops weeks in advance along with the route through aaa.  since aaa had and still has a deal with best western, we stayed in all bws the three days out to flagstaff and the three days back home. aaa even provided the full paper maps and tourbooks of each state we were going through as well as a detailed triptik with the route highlighted for each step of the way.  travelers cheques were definitely a thing that we used.  they might have been aaa backed even? I didn't get a chance to see them when they were used.

as for entertainment, we had a blue chevrolet tiara van that had in the back an entertainment console with a tape deck and am/fm radio and headphone jacks on both sides of the van between the middle row and back bench.  dad didn't want to spring for the tv option because then the van wouldn't fit in the garage. I had my gameboy, lots of tapes, and lots of books with me but I spent most of the time staring out the windows looking at all of this country that I had never seen before. when I'm road tripping now, I honestly get the same goosebumps looking at all of that beautiful country as I did then. one sign of the times then was that dad illegally parked the van at a tourist stop in arizona and was surprised when he got a ticket because he didn't think that the local law enforcement had the ability to find out who he was by searching for out of state plates that quickly (and he was in law enforcement himself so he would have known how difficult it was to find that out at the time).

i liked the traveling back then. it was a lot more fun, but maybe that's a little shaded through the eyes of 10 year old me. these days when I travel, I book my hotel rooms in advance and route plan in adva just like my parents did with aaa except I'm doing it myself. and I always have with me one of the more detailed road atlases I could find that fits in my travel bag from michelin. the gps app that I use is more of a backup and preview of the road ahead because I know what landmarks to look for. other than using street view to make note of those landmarks, I travel pretty much the same way we did then, except now I'm doing it solo.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: wanderer2575 on February 11, 2019, 07:46:51 AM
As far as I can tell, gas stations charging more for credit cards is getting more common, not less.  Used to be virtually unheard of in NY, but now it's pretty common.

Everywhere in Michigan as well.

The gas station is paying a service charge to its credit card processor (although probably not as much as the flat 10 cents/gallon premium that seems to be the norm in Michigan) for every credit card transaction, so the reality is that you're getting a discount for paying cash, not getting charged more for paying credit.  When you see a station charging the same price for both cash and credit, that station is charging everyone the higher credit price.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: 1 on February 11, 2019, 07:49:09 AM
As far as I can tell, gas stations charging more for credit cards is getting more common, not less.  Used to be virtually unheard of in NY, but now it's pretty common.

Everywhere in Michigan as well.

The gas station is paying a service charge to its credit card processor (although probably not as much as the flat 10 cents/gallon premium that seems to be the norm in Michigan) for every credit card transaction, so the reality is that you're getting a discount for paying cash, not getting charged more for paying credit.  When you see a station charging the same price for both cash and credit, that station is charging everyone the higher credit price.

Some credit cards give 3% cash back on gas and 1% cash back on most other purchases, which is probably why the difference is often 10¢.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 11, 2019, 09:36:51 AM
On a Las Vegas forum I frequent, international travelers seem to somewhat frequently ask about travelers checks and if they can be used. Usually, responders just say use credit cards. I'm sure many people have never seen a travelers check.
I used to bring travelers cheques on vacations to casinos, in an effort to curb my spending on gambling, but I did that on a trip to Atlantic City in 2010, and it took 10 minutes to cash a check after they'd copied down all of my personal info, and that was the end of that (it used to be that they'd just watch you countersign the check and then they'd give you the cash).  Plus it was getting harder and harder to find anywhere that would sell them.

Of course, once upon a time, you could use them to pay for almost anything that you could buy with cash (they were readily accepted at department stores, for example), and get change from the cheque in cash.

The only value I could see them having nowadays is if you're traveling to a country that doesn't have widespread availability of ATMs.  I didn't think twice about buying travelers cheques for trips to the UK or even Colombia.  For one thing, buying travelers cheques in a foreign currency used to net you one of the worst exchange rates out there.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: 1995hoo on February 11, 2019, 09:47:32 AM
I’m astonished to hear gas stations charging more for credit is still so common. Around here it used to be the norm, but it largely disappeared by the early to mid-1990s.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 11, 2019, 10:24:44 AM
I’m astonished to hear gas stations charging more for credit is still so common. Around here it used to be the norm, but it largely disappeared by the early to mid-1990s.
Around here it tends to only rear its ugly head when gas prices are high, but I know at least one gas station that offers a perpetual 5-cent/gallon discount for cash.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: ErmineNotyours on February 11, 2019, 12:07:56 PM
Credit card companies used to have policies requiring merchants to not charge extra for credit card transactions and to spread the fee in with the cash customers, but that doen't seem to apply to gas stations any more.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: bzakharin on February 11, 2019, 12:11:33 PM
I’m astonished to hear gas stations charging more for credit is still so common. Around here it used to be the norm, but it largely disappeared by the early to mid-1990s.
Around here it tends to only rear its ugly head when gas prices are high, but I know at least one gas station that offers a perpetual 5-cent/gallon discount for cash.
NJ is another place where the difference between cash and credit is commonplace. Wawa is a major exception, but since they no longer have the lowest prices, Gas is the only reason I carry (much) cash these days.

Speaking of cash, in the early days of ATMs you couldn't be sure just any old ATM would accept your ATM card (even with a surcharge) as there were multiple competing sometimes regional networks. My area had MAC (Money Access Center, now part of STAR) machines, not ATMs, and if you tried to use a MAC card in a NYCE machine or something, it wouldn't work.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: briantroutman on February 11, 2019, 12:16:20 PM
The traveler’s cheque may very well be on the brink of extinction.

This thread got me thinking about traveler’s cheques—I worked summers between high school and college at a AAA office in my hometown, and I always enjoyed selling them. Yes, I know it’s an odd observation, but the smooth crisp feel of the paper and the intricate engraving work on the cheques made handling and seeing them a treat.

And so I thought I might like to buy a few just to keep before they disappear forever. But according to AmEx’s locator, there isn’t a single retailer of their traveler’s cheques within 50 miles of Philadelphia. The closest retailers to me are a small bank in Elkton, MD and a small credit union in Allentown. And checking some other cities, the few retailers left are almost all small banks or credit unions.

Of course, once upon a time, you could use them to pay for almost anything that you could buy with cash (they were readily accepted at department stores, for example), and get change from the cheque in cash.

That’s exactly the way that our (as retailers) training materials described the use of them and advised us to instruct the cheque customer on how to use them. Essentially, the cheques were like “safe cash”—the same denominations as dollar bills (20/50/100) and roughly the same physical size. Members would ask us where to “cash” traveler’s cheques; we’d tell them to spend a $50 cheque just as they would a $50 bill and spend the change elsewhere.

I worked at a typical mall clothing retailer during high school, and our POS system had an option for “traveler’s cheque” under the payment tenders. Accepting traveler’s cheques was covered sufficiently in training (make sure the customer signs the cheque in front of you; check that the signatures match; give the customer change in cash). I’d imagine that newer POSes probably don’t have an option for accepting traveler’s cheques and that most cashiers wouldn’t know what they were or if they could accept them.

I’m astonished to hear gas stations charging more for credit is still so common. Around here it used to be the norm, but it largely disappeared by the early to mid-1990s.

Based on my observations, charging extra for credit isn’t terribly common at gas stations in this area. Then again, I tend to frequent the same stations and ignore the others, so I might just be oblivious to it. I have noticed several stations with side-by-side price displays labeled “cash” and “credit” where the prices are the same.

When I lived in California, charging a higher price for credit seemed to be much more common. But I noticed that many stations would offer the lower cash price to holders of the oil company’s credit card (A Chevron credit card at Chevron, for example).
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 11, 2019, 12:33:08 PM
But according to AmEx’s locator, there isn’t a single retailer of their traveler’s cheques within 50 miles of Philadelphia.
Yeah, that's the issue I ran into - I think they may have even closed their Travel Services office in Washington DC.  That's the other issue I've seen recently - Amex doesn't seem to offer the same emergency travel assistance they used to (getting emergency cash as a cash advance against your Amex, assistance with obtaining a replacement passport, etc. if your cash/cards/passport were lost or stolen).

I worked at a typical mall clothing retailer during high school, and our POS system had an option for “traveler’s cheque” under the payment tenders.
Same story when I was a cashier at Target.  I remember once being presented with a traveler's cheque in USD from a bank in China, and the English translations of one of the legends written on the front of the check (in Chinese) was something along the lines of "Exchange for cash in New York."  Must've been a mistranslation/assumption that the traveler's first point of entry was New York, or that New York=the US in the same way some Americans assume London=the UK, but we accepted it at a Target in the suburbs of Atlanta with no issue.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Life in Paradise on February 11, 2019, 01:09:23 PM
I do remember when my family was traveling across the country in the late 60s and early 70s that additional motel chains were springing up such as Motel 6 and $8 Days Inn, and in both cases the numbers indicated the cost of the room.  Boy how inflation has changed things today!
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Rothman on February 11, 2019, 01:16:04 PM
And, by the late 1980s, my father would spend a lot of time driving from hotel to hotel trying to find a room under $50.

And $100/night rooms are becoming more and more commonplace nowadays. :/
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: hbelkins on February 11, 2019, 01:25:09 PM
Credit card companies used to have policies requiring merchants to not charge extra for credit card transactions and to spread the fee in with the cash customers, but that doen't seem to apply to gas stations any more.

Seems like not all that long ago, there was a dispute between one of the major retailers (Walmart, maybe?) and one of the credit card providers regarding the merchant fee.

I do know that in Kentucky, if you use a credit card to pay a bill at a government office, there's a 3% fee added.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 11, 2019, 01:29:41 PM
I do know that in Kentucky, if you use a credit card to pay a bill at a government office, there's a 3% fee added.
It's the same in Illinois.  Pretty sure it was the same in DC, too.  I can see how governments wouldn't want to eat that fee the way business can.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 11, 2019, 01:31:07 PM
I believe the CARD Act also made it illegal for businesses to set minimum spending in order for a customer to be able to use a credit or debit card, although I don't think I've ever cared enough to report a business that's still doing that.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: 1995hoo on February 11, 2019, 01:53:14 PM
I do know that in Kentucky, if you use a credit card to pay a bill at a government office, there's a 3% fee added.
It's the same in Illinois.  Pretty sure it was the same in DC, too.  I can see how governments wouldn't want to eat that fee the way business can.

That’s also true if you pay your federal taxes with a credit card. Makes sense for exactly the reason you note. The fee can be worth it depending on the miles or points you may get, especially if there’s a double-miles promo or something similar.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: catch22 on February 11, 2019, 03:44:57 PM
Yeah, that's the issue I ran into - I think they may have even closed their Travel Services office in Washington DC.  That's the other issue I've seen recently - Amex doesn't seem to offer the same emergency travel assistance they used to (getting emergency cash as a cash advance against your Amex, assistance with obtaining a replacement passport, etc. if your cash/cards/passport were lost or stolen).

That was a great service.  I was in Colorado in 1976 and lost my wallet with all my cash and cards in it.  There was an Amex travel office in a nearby mall.  Once the I proved to them I was who I claimed, they gave me $100 in cash and $200 in checks, posted against my Amex card.  They even offered to call my other credit card companies on my behalf but I had already handled that.

Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: ErmineNotyours on February 11, 2019, 04:49:04 PM
With the discussion in mind about using oil company cards to pay for other services, I found this on the back of a map of Portland, Oregon from 1969.  Notice that most of the country bears the "American" name, and the logo over the central states is blank on the name portion.  They couldn't advertise themselves as "Standard" in places where others used the name.

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7839/47012890992_c68143a0ec_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2eCnmA5)American Oil Company card advertisement, 1969 (https://flic.kr/p/2eCnmA5) by Arthur Allen (https://www.flickr.com/photos/116988743@N07/), on Flickr
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 11, 2019, 05:05:25 PM
With the discussion in mind about using oil company cards to pay for other services, I found this on the back of a map of Portland, Oregon from 1969.  Notice that most of the country bears the "American" name, and the logo over the central states is blank on the name portion.  They couldn't advertise themselves as "Standard" in places where others used the name.

(https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7839/47012890992_c68143a0ec_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2eCnmA5)American Oil Company card advertisement, 1969 (https://flic.kr/p/2eCnmA5) by Arthur Allen (https://www.flickr.com/photos/116988743@N07/), on Flickr
There used to be all kinds of quirks like these with credit cards that were specific to a particular retailer.  You could use your Sears card to rent a car from Budget for the longest time (probably because Budget used to be Sears Rent-A-Car), and you could use your JCPenney card at CVS. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: skluth on February 11, 2019, 07:30:28 PM
I was a kid in the 60's, so I grew up with cars that only had an AM radio. It had five pushbuttons for your favorite stations. I don't remember 8-tracks before about 1970, so you were pretty much stuck with the local stations except after dark when certain stations would carry for hundreds of miles.

Self-service gas stations didn't really get popular until the 1973 Oil Crisis. Even then, it was pretty common for gas stations to have both a self-service and full-service options especially for the major chains. As mentioned, many chains had their own maps. I'd pick up the maps everywhere we went and would see how the proposed highways became under construction and then completed. This started to change with the freeway revolts in cities circa 1970. It can be fun to see what might have been (and depending on your POV, what was lost).

The interstate system wasn't complete, so you'd be riding happily along and suddenly hit a two lane section or be steered into a town. This was especially common out west. Glenn Frey was standing on a corner in Winslow AZ because I-40 had yet to bypass the town. That US 66 big bend in Arizona that was romanticized in "Cars" was actually a royal pain, especially for my dad as we were hauling a pop-up camper. Along with the hotel chain books, there was also a national campground directory though it's accuracy left something to be desired. And finding some of the campgrounds was an adventure in itself as they were often off the beaten path.

A lot of major roads would also get backed up. You could be stuck at a rail crossing for 30 minutes with a train building its manifest at a switchyard that was inconveniently next to the main drag. Or stuck at a drawbridge on the main drag. You don't see too many drawbridges on major routes anymore like the I-64 drawbridge in Chesapeake, VA.

A lot of roads had waysides, picnic areas which may or may not include a bathroom (which was frequently an outhouse). They still exist, but you don't see many of them. Especially the ones with outhouses. However, interstate rest stops have mostly gotten better, and with WalMarts and McDonald's almost everywhere it's pretty easy to find a semi-clean restroom these days.

Cable was pretty rare, so you only got the local stations in the hotels. This may mean not even getting the major three networks in some more rural areas, though sometimes there were repeater stations from larger cities. This is assuming your room had a TV. There were also some fun hotel quirks like the beds which vibrated for a quarter. There were also a lot of weird theme hotels (like wigwams) that are mostly long gone.

There were also towns where you wouldn't be welcome after sundown, especially if you were African-American or had long hair. This was true well into the 70's. You might even be warned to leave if you were an outsider if you were young and clean-cut. Especially if you looked Jewish.

Hitchhiking was far more common. It wasn't unusual to see a line of long-haired young people along the interstate or on a freeway ramp especially near the outskirts of any city. Ride-sharing was done mostly through college bulletin boards. I once got from SF to Milwaukee from a ride board listing in Berkeley.

Cars didn't have power steering. Drive a big old Oldsmobile or Chrysler from the early 60's sometime. It really is like driving a boat. You also didn't have power (much less anti-lock) brakes. The first time I experienced power windows I was amazed. They frequently didn't have AC, especially if purchased anywhere in the northern half of the US. I don't think my parents had AC in a car until the 70's.

That said, it was also interesting. Chains weren't nearly as ubiquitous along the interstates. It wasn't unusual to only have local restaurants to choose from. Despite what others said about traveler's checks, they weren't usually difficult to cash as long as you were buying something so they were frequently accepted at hotels and restaurants. (I used them through the late-70's and 80's with no problem.) Some of the worst chains are deservedly gone (e.g., Stuckey's). There were a lot more regional differences in food back then, even in the nomenclature. You might ask for barbeque only to get Sloppy Joes.

Finally, there was no such thing as a No Smoking section. People smoked everywhere. On TV. In the lobby of gas stations. Even on airplanes. I don't miss that at all.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Sctvhound on February 11, 2019, 11:28:53 PM
I-95 used to have a draw bridge in Jacksonville. It was a traffic nightmare there. They also used to have tolls until the late 1980s or early 1990s.

My dad was a trucker in the 1970s and he remembered having to get off of 95 in Brunswick, GA as the road wasn’t complete at that time. Also I-95 wasn’t complete through Savannah until the late 70s.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 12, 2019, 01:01:11 PM
I was always told growing up that stores could accept any credit card, but they chose to only accept certain ones in order to pay fewer fees for the processing.  That is to say, there's no real reason you couldn't have used your JC Penney card at the local Mobil gas station, except that they really didn't want to have to pay a processing fee to JC Penney.  I seem to recall there was one gas station chain that made a point of accepting all credit cards as a way of attracting customers, but I can't remember which one that might have been.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 12, 2019, 03:39:20 PM
I was always told growing up that stores could accept any credit card, but they chose to only accept certain ones in order to pay fewer fees for the processing.  That is to say, there's no real reason you couldn't have used your JC Penney card at the local Mobil gas station, except that they really didn't want to have to pay a processing fee to JC Penney.  I seem to recall there was one gas station chain that made a point of accepting all credit cards as a way of attracting customers, but I can't remember which one that might have been.
It's hard to say, but that is likely true for the major credit card issuers (I work for one, and our cafeteria and snack bars CAN accept our competitors' cards, but we tell everyone that they can't because we don't want to pay them to settle the transaction), but it's probably not true that you could walk into, say, Sears and pay for your purchase with a JCPenney card. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: briantroutman on February 12, 2019, 06:27:31 PM
I was always told growing up that stores could accept any credit card, but they chose to only accept certain ones in order to pay fewer fees for the processing.  That is to say, there's no real reason you couldn't have used your JC Penney card at the local Mobil gas station...

I’m not in the credit card industry, but that doesn’t seem plausible to me.

First, there’s the technical aspect: When a merchant swipes a card, the merchant’s processing service connects live with the credit card issuer to verify that the card is valid, has enough available credit, etc. For a merchant to be able to accept a particular type of card, the processing service’s systems need to be connected with the card issuer’s systems, and the data needs to interchange in a standard format that the processing service is able to handle. Even before modern electronic payments processing began in the ’70s, there was still the matter of compatibility in the paper era. (Does the card’s raised name/number data line up with your imprinter’s paper forms? What’s the procedure for submitting paper charge slips? Where do you send them?)

Then there’s the business aspect: Merchants issue proprietary credit cards because they encourage customers to buy now (even if the customers can’t pay now) and also because the store credit card serves as a disincentive to do business with the competition. In other words, if you have a JCPenney card, you’re less likely to shop at other department stores because your card is no good there.

The very small kernel of truth to the “any card, anywhere” theory would seem to be this: Yes, any merchant could enter into an agreement with another merchant to accept the other’s credit cards, and the two companies could work out all of the technical details to connect their payment processing systems. There’s no law standing in the way. But the costs for doing so would be relatively high, and the card issuer has little incentive to allow reciprocity at other merchants.

The above is essentially why Visa and MasterCard exist. They provide universal standards for the exchange of card data and the execution of transactions, so all processing services that accept Visa/MasterCard can handle all card transactions in uniform manner, regardless of what bank issued the credit card or what retailer may have co-branded the card.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Brandon on February 12, 2019, 07:01:02 PM
As far as I can tell, gas stations charging more for credit cards is getting more common, not less.  Used to be virtually unheard of in NY, but now it's pretty common.

Everywhere in Michigan Metro Detroit as well.

Cash and credit are the same price outside Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: skluth on February 12, 2019, 08:05:47 PM
I was always told growing up that stores could accept any credit card, but they chose to only accept certain ones in order to pay fewer fees for the processing.  That is to say, there's no real reason you couldn't have used your JC Penney card at the local Mobil gas station...

I’m not in the credit card industry, but that doesn’t seem plausible to me.

First, there’s the technical aspect: When a merchant swipes a card, the merchant’s processing service connects live with the credit card issuer to verify that the card is valid, has enough available credit, etc

This is about the good old days. I worked as a hotel desk clerk intermittently during my college days. We processed credit cards the old-fashioned way, placing the card in a manual machine and placed carbon-copy vouchers to imprint the card into paper. American Express had different vouchers than Visa/Master Charge (yes, I'm that old) which used the same voucher. There may have been distinct vouchers for Diners Club and Carte Blanche, though it's been almost 40 years so my memory is a bit fuzzy. Nobody called to check on someone unless they looked particularly derelict. Long-term hotel guests were required to create a new voucher every 7-10 days, but I think that was my Ramada Inns' policy.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: catch22 on February 13, 2019, 07:49:44 AM
I was always told growing up that stores could accept any credit card, but they chose to only accept certain ones in order to pay fewer fees for the processing.  That is to say, there's no real reason you couldn't have used your JC Penney card at the local Mobil gas station...

I’m not in the credit card industry, but that doesn’t seem plausible to me.

First, there’s the technical aspect: When a merchant swipes a card, the merchant’s processing service connects live with the credit card issuer to verify that the card is valid, has enough available credit, etc

This is about the good old days. I worked as a hotel desk clerk intermittently during my college days. We processed credit cards the old-fashioned way, placing the card in a manual machine and placed carbon-copy vouchers to imprint the card into paper. American Express had different vouchers than Visa/Master Charge (yes, I'm that old) which used the same voucher. There may have been distinct vouchers for Diners Club and Carte Blanche, though it's been almost 40 years so my memory is a bit fuzzy. Nobody called to check on someone unless they looked particularly derelict. Long-term hotel guests were required to create a new voucher every 7-10 days, but I think that was my Ramada Inns' policy.

I spent my summer between high school and college working at an Amoco station.  We had an imprint machine too, for the oil company's own card.  We never had to call for authorization for gas/oil purchases, just stuff like tires, batteries and repairs.  We accepted most of the other original Standard Oil descendants' cards as well as Diner's Club (but I never saw one of those).

The imprints were processed easily enough.  They were used as part of the payment to the fuel delivery man (all fuel dumps were COD back then) with the balance in cash.  No checks, if you please.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: briantroutman on February 13, 2019, 01:03:46 PM
This is about the good old days... We processed credit cards the old-fashioned way, placing the card in a manual machine and placed carbon-copy vouchers to imprint the card into paper.

Oh I’m aware we’re talking about the good old days, and I brought up the days of pre-electronic with my comment about “compatibility in the paper era”. As you mentioned, Visa and Master Charge shared a common voucher form, but American Express had its own, and assumably retailers with their own in-house credit cards had forms unique to those cards.

That was due in part to the fact that the cards were physically different and the card numbers, cardholder name, and other pieces of information on the card were supposed to line up in particular areas on the form—and also because the processing company needed to know what kind of a card was being used so the charge could be processed accordingly. If you took an imprint of a 1970s JCPenney card (https://www.picclickimg.com/d/l400/pict/302873339137_/Vintage-Expired-JC-PENNEY-Dept-Store-CREDIT-CHARGE.jpg) at a Ramada Inn using the standard Visa/MC voucher form, how would the payment processor even know that the card was issued by JCPenney or know how/where to submit the forms for payment? How would the processor know that the impression is of a real credit card and not a 1973 Republican Party Sustaining Member card (https://d9nvuahg4xykp.cloudfront.net/6898770122357761056/-2100341716953467038.jpg)?

That’s why find it hard to believe the premise that a merchant—in the paper era or in modern times—could accept any credit card from any issuer but simply chooses not to because of having to pay higher fees for some of them.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: jdbx on February 13, 2019, 01:14:53 PM
People covered a lot of angles regarding what travel was like back in the "good old days"...  I think one angle that wasn't really touched on was also the fact that cars were much less reliable than they are today.  Breakdowns were common, even among relatively new cars.  Whenever my family was ready to go on a long trip, like driving the 350 miles from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, or over the mountains to Reno, we always would drop the car off at the shop for a once-over.  Engines were manufactured with much weaker tolerances, belts, hoses, and similar items seemed to break frequently.  Tires were bias-ply and on an all-day drive having a flat was not unexpected.  Cooling of these big engines was not the best, and if you were going up a long grade on a hot day, you would frequently pass people with their hood up and steam billowing out of their radiator. 

We were not driving old junkers, these were Fords and Chevrolets from the 60's and 70's with less than 50k miles on them.  I think people today really take for granted just how much more reliable cars are.  Even if I was setting out on a 1000 mile drive in my vehicle that has 90k miles on it, the most I would worry about is checking the air in my tires and filling up my gas tank.  I haven't had a flat tire in over a decade, and it's been over 20 years since the last time I was on the side of the road with a breakdown.

An interesting note, the last time I drove I-10 through the desert between Los Angeles and Phoenix, there were still several radiator water stations along the long grade over Chiriaco Summit.  I think that is a reminder of those bygone days.



Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 13, 2019, 01:29:19 PM
Overheating in California and Nevada is, I believe, the basis of this album cover:

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/3a/Jacksonbrownedebut.jpg/220px-Jacksonbrownedebut.jpg)
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 13, 2019, 01:30:07 PM
Oh, and one thing that also tends to be glossed over when people gush over the Golden Age of air travel: There's a strong chance the driver or other passengers would be smoking in the car, along with other customers and staff at gas stations, roadside diners, and the like.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Mergingtraffic on February 13, 2019, 03:18:50 PM
(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4904/46066912204_76157d597d_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2dbLY3Y)

Starting in the 1980s these signs were your friends.  I guess not so mucn now with apps and stuff but companies still pay to be on them.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 13, 2019, 03:38:55 PM
They still exist, and they can be easier to use than my iExit app in most situations.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 13, 2019, 03:43:40 PM
Yeah, sometimes we simply don't want to bother whipping out our phones, using up data in the process, when we know we can rely on signs instead.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: jeffandnicole on February 13, 2019, 03:46:15 PM
Starting in the 1980s these signs were your friends.  I guess not so mucn now with apps and stuff but companies still pay to be on them.

Apps are overrated when it comes to this stuff.  People are driving along and want a quick bit to eat or a place to pee.  They know they can just look for these signs.

Another reason why apps are overrated - nearly every restaurant has some sort of app - some you can use to pay, some have coupons, etc.  Just glance at people next time and you barely see anyone have their phone out to pay, even though they could've saved a least a few bucks on what they're buying, or earn points towards free stuff.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kalvado on February 13, 2019, 03:57:45 PM
Yeah, sometimes we simply don't want to bother whipping out our phones, using up data in the process, and getting ticketed for cellphone use while driving when we know we can rely on signs instead.
FIFY, you missed the most important part. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: kphoger on February 13, 2019, 04:15:58 PM
Yeah, sometimes we simply don't want to bother whipping out our phones, using up data in the process, and getting ticketed for cellphone use while driving when we know we can rely on signs instead.
FIFY, you missed the most important part. 

It is not against the law for a passenger to use a cell phone in the car.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 13, 2019, 08:37:20 PM
Yeah, sometimes we simply don't want to bother whipping out our phones, using up data in the process, and getting ticketed for cellphone use while driving when we know we can rely on signs instead.
FIFY, you missed the most important part. 

It is not against the law for a passenger to use a cell phone in the car.
Yeah, I only use iExit when I’m a passenger.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: PHLBOS on February 14, 2019, 11:37:17 AM
Yeah, sometimes we simply don't want to bother whipping out our phones, using up data in the process, and getting ticketed for cellphone use while driving when we know we can rely on signs instead.
FIFY, you missed the most important part. 

It is not against the law for a passenger to use a cell phone in the car.
True, but many drivers travel alone for whatever reason/circumstances; both then and now.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: mgk920 on February 14, 2019, 11:57:03 AM
How were breakdowns and other mishaps handled before we had cell phones?
Your choices were:
(1) raise the hood of your car, hope a cop drove past and saw you
(2) walk to the nearest service station
(3) [starting in the 1980s or so] walk to the nearest motorist assistance call box, if there was one
(4) repair the car yourself

Hell a good chunk of the roadways I travel on you won't find any help aside from what you have in your trunk.  That kind of thing was typical on pretty much every roadway until probably the early 2000s when cell phones became common.  I still rather carry a set of jumper cables and full size spare than have to rely on calling someone for help.

I've seen true warnings in century-old 'automobilist' direction/touring guides advising against taking alternative routings, even if advised to do so by the locals, in that the shortcuts were routed through truly desolate places where there was little, if any, hope for help in case of a breakdown, while the routings described in the book closely followed railroads and went through towns, allowing civilization (ie, food and lodging) and repair parts to be shipped in by train.

Mike
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 14, 2019, 12:09:04 PM
How were breakdowns and other mishaps handled before we had cell phones?
Your choices were:
(1) raise the hood of your car, hope a cop drove past and saw you
(2) walk to the nearest service station
(3) [starting in the 1980s or so] walk to the nearest motorist assistance call box, if there was one
(4) repair the car yourself

Hell a good chunk of the roadways I travel on you won't find any help aside from what you have in your trunk.  That kind of thing was typical on pretty much every roadway until probably the early 2000s when cell phones became common.  I still rather carry a set of jumper cables and full size spare than have to rely on calling someone for help.

I've seen true warnings in century-old 'automobilist' direction/touring guides advising against taking alternative routings, even if advised to do so by the locals, in that the shortcuts were routed through truly desolate places where there was little, if any, hope for help in case of a breakdown, while the routings described in the book closely followed railroads and went through towns, allowing civilization (ie, food and lodging) and repair parts to be shipped in by train.

Mike
And 50 years later, it was common to be stranded if your car broke down and the nearest mechanic didn't have the part they needed to repair your car.  I bet it's not completely unheard-of today.

I carry jumper cables just because I don't want to have to try to find someone who can give me a jump AND has jumper cables.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: mgk920 on February 14, 2019, 12:47:35 PM
Another is that into the late 00s, I would use those directory booklets that the motel chains printed a couple of times every year on roadtrips to plan routings and schedules in order to find decent places to crash at night.  Now, it is back to paying attention to billboards and those blue signs.  I found those directories to be far easier and more convenient to use than trying to navigate company websites.

 :banghead:

Mike
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 14, 2019, 12:59:43 PM
Another is that into the late 00s, I would use those directory booklets that the motel chains printed a couple of times every year on roadtrips to plan routings and schedules in order to find decent places to crash at night.  Now, it is back to paying attention to billboards and those blue signs.  I found those directories to be far easier and more convenient to use than trying to navigate company websites.

 :banghead:

Mike
You're talking about the ones they give away at welcome centers?  Did they really stop printing those?  That's too bad.  They were useful, although good luck getting a room at the rate advertised in the booklet.

I did have to try to find a motel using Safari on an iPhone while on the road about five years ago, and it was a giant pain.  We needed to find somewhere dog-friendly, and I don't think there was a way to do that using an app such as Orbitz or Hotwire.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: hbelkins on February 14, 2019, 01:14:14 PM
Another is that into the late 00s, I would use those directory booklets that the motel chains printed a couple of times every year on roadtrips to plan routings and schedules in order to find decent places to crash at night.  Now, it is back to paying attention to billboards and those blue signs.  I found those directories to be far easier and more convenient to use than trying to navigate company websites.

 :banghead:

Mike
You're talking about the ones they give away at welcome centers?  Did they really stop printing those?  That's too bad.  They were useful, although good luck getting a room at the rate advertised in the booklet.

I did have to try to find a motel using Safari on an iPhone while on the road about five years ago, and it was a giant pain.  We needed to find somewhere dog-friendly, and I don't think there was a way to do that using an app such as Orbitz or Hotwire.

No, I think he's talking about the chain directories. Last chain I saw that still had them was Red Roof. The coupon books are still available; there are generally two (one with a green cover, and one with a red cover) available in Kentucky. Both those companies also have apps. I've never tried to use one of their coupons, because there are often too many restrictions.

As for your dog-friendly comment, it pays to know which chains are dog-friendly and then use their apps. The aforementioned Red Roof is one. I don't know that I've ever seen a Red Roof that didn't allow dogs.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Max Rockatansky on February 14, 2019, 01:19:13 PM
How were breakdowns and other mishaps handled before we had cell phones?
Your choices were:
(1) raise the hood of your car, hope a cop drove past and saw you
(2) walk to the nearest service station
(3) [starting in the 1980s or so] walk to the nearest motorist assistance call box, if there was one
(4) repair the car yourself

Hell a good chunk of the roadways I travel on you won't find any help aside from what you have in your trunk.  That kind of thing was typical on pretty much every roadway until probably the early 2000s when cell phones became common.  I still rather carry a set of jumper cables and full size spare than have to rely on calling someone for help.

I've seen true warnings in century-old 'automobilist' direction/touring guides advising against taking alternative routings, even if advised to do so by the locals, in that the shortcuts were routed through truly desolate places where there was little, if any, hope for help in case of a breakdown, while the routings described in the book closely followed railroads and went through towns, allowing civilization (ie, food and lodging) and repair parts to be shipped in by train.

Mike

Almost every pre-1960s Utah State Highway Map shows warnings like that on State Highways in the southern part of the State.  Considering most were just wonky graded dirt trails it’s easy to understand the concern.  You’d still be in a hell of a bind most places out that way due to the remoteness of the territory.  Back in 2016 I mowed down a deer on UT 95 and got incredibly lucky it mess up my accessory belt or push the radiator in.  Usually I carry a week worth of water with me on trips like that. 
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 14, 2019, 01:20:54 PM
As for your dog-friendly comment, it pays to know which chains are dog-friendly and then use their apps. The aforementioned Red Roof is one. I don't know that I've ever seen a Red Roof that didn't allow dogs.
I don't know that there was a Red Roof Inn app at the time, and even if there was, I wasn't interested in downloading it over my broadband connection.  Same for Motel 6. 

Those were the two chains that I was looking at, and neither one had a version of their website that was mobile-friendly.

Paper directories published by the chains went the way of the dodo bird for the same reason paper airline timetables did.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: PHLBOS on February 14, 2019, 02:06:31 PM
Paper directories published by the chains went the way of the dodo bird for the same reason paper airline timetables did.
I believe, and such was mentioned a few posts back, that Red Roof still publishes a paper (booklet) directory; at least as of last year.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 14, 2019, 02:27:30 PM
Paper directories published by the chains went the way of the dodo bird for the same reason paper airline timetables did.
I believe, and such was mentioned a few posts back, that Red Roof still publishes a paper (booklet) directory; at least as of last year.
Ah, well, if your demographic is less tech-savvy and more likely to do it the old-fashioned way, then it probably behooves you to continue publishing a paper directory.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: PHLBOS on February 15, 2019, 10:09:30 AM
Paper directories published by the chains went the way of the dodo bird for the same reason paper airline timetables did.
I believe, and such was mentioned a few posts back, that Red Roof still publishes a paper (booklet) directory; at least as of last year.
Ah, well, if your demographic is less tech-savvy and more likely to do it the old-fashioned way, then it probably behooves you to continue publishing a paper directory.
Do keep in mind that a higher percentage of the traveling population will be lodging vs. flying and there's more hotel/motel chains around than there are air carriers.  As a result, said-lodging population is likely more diverse than the flying population.  That diversity probably includes those that are less tech-savvy, per your earlier comment.

That said, have some lodging chains either discontinued or never (for newer chains) published paper directories?  Sure, but I believe your earlier going the way of the dodo comment in reference to paper directories (for lodging) is either exaggerated or premature at this time.

Additionally, stop at any hotel/motel lobby or even at a welcome/service plaza along a highway; and one will still see paper pamphlets for various attractions both near & far.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 15, 2019, 12:22:07 PM
That said, have some lodging chains either discontinued or never (for newer chains) published paper directories?  Sure, but I believe your earlier going the way of the dodo comment in reference to paper directories (for lodging) is either exaggerated or premature at this time.
OK, but they're certainly less prevalent than they used to be.  Once upon a time, there would be a directory sitting in your room, waiting for you.  Maybe, nowadays, they can give you one at the front desk.

Additionally, stop at any hotel/motel lobby or even at a welcome/service plaza along a highway; and one will still see paper pamphlets for various attractions both near & far.
Yes, along with the multi-chain guides I asked about earlier.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Nacho on February 17, 2019, 10:19:29 PM
I can date my earliest road trip memories to the late 80s, though of course my memories are clearer the more recent the trip. Whether that constitutes the "good old days" is up to the reader I suppose, but it was certainly before cell phones were commonplace.

The biggest difference I notice could generally be described as ease of access to travel information. Without TripAdvisor, Google Maps, and the like you were a lot more reliant on other sources of information. On the earliest trips we'd look for a place to stay the night as we went until a particularly disastrous trip in which the only vacancy we could find one way was at a fleabag motel and the other way we couldn't find any vacancies and our family of five ended up sleeping in the station wagon at a rest area. After that my parents would make hotel reservations in advance using one of those paper directories. I liked to browse through them when we were at the hotel room. I recall they'd typically give some description of the amenities (often using a series of icons), a phone number and address, directions from nearby major highways, and a small map showing the location. Said maps typically weren't to scale and certainly weren't above making the property seem closer to the highway than it actually was. There also might be an indication for properties that were considered among the top in the chain but you didn't really have access to any sort of customer reviews of a particular location. After enough blah experiences at the Days Inns and Econo Lodges of the world, my parents eventually developed something of a loyalty to Hampton Inn since you knew it would be at least decent.

The obvious sources on information on food and gas were billboards and LOGO signs, plus some vague sense of "there's places in <insert name of upcoming town>" but again there was no real good way to check what would be available, say, 30 miles down the road. This could prove particularly troublesome for my family when we found ourselves on the big turnpikes, as my parents absolutely hated Roy Rogers, who occupied a lot of the service plazas in those days and then as now you wouldn't generally see much to alert you to establishments off the turnpike. Many a summer trip to Maine featured front seat discussion after passing the signage indicating yet another Roy Rogers at the next plaza of whether to press on and hope the next one featured a more desirable restaurant or to just bite the bullet and eat at Roy's. The few attempts we made to find a place to eat or cheaper gas off the turnpike tended to result in a lot of aimless wandering, so we ended up being pretty reluctant to go that route.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: abefroman329 on February 18, 2019, 12:35:25 PM
I have clear memories of having to call nationwide reservations lines for availability and rates at hotels, and having to perpetually ask "is that your cheapest rate?"  Now I can do that with a few keystrokes.  I don't have fond memories of the old way.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: bandit957 on February 18, 2019, 09:42:55 PM
In the old days, radio was so much better, so travel often involved listening to radio through much of the trip. I also remember that people would blow bubbles with bubble gum on long trips, because that was a big pastime back then.

Holiday Inn was by far the dominant motel chain, and they published a print directory. The first routing software I remember was Automap, which came in the early '90s. But it only showed major towns and roads.

When you were refueling, you could actually smell the gasoline fumes. Nowadays, this doesn't happen.

In the 1990s and 2000s, there was a book called 'Next Exit', which listed restaurants at every Interstate exit.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: bandit957 on February 18, 2019, 09:48:35 PM
I also remember when I had Internet access at home, but motels didn't have it yet. So I'd get home to find a few hundred e-mails waiting for me - in addition to quite a few answering machine messages.

One time back in 1997, I went on a roadtrip for a few days. When I got back, someone who had been harassing me on the Internet accused me of hacking his ISP and knocking it offline. But I couldn't have, because I had no Internet access on roadtrips back then.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Rick Powell on February 18, 2019, 10:47:47 PM
In the old days, radio was so much better, so travel often involved listening to radio through much of the trip.
WLS 890 AM in Chicago could be heard at night for 500 to 1000 miles, depending on atmospheric conditions. I remember listening to it on several road trips in the south as a kid. There were (are) several other "clear channel" stations that don't get interfered with by adjoining bands. Now most of the AM dial is sports, talk and news, not so much music. Satellite radio doesn't fade in and out like AM radio, but its line of sight capability can mean a dropped signal in heavily forested or mountainous terrain, or city skyscrapers...I remember the AM signal being as clear as a bell one minute, followed by barely audible static-y garbage, and waiting for the signal to come back in clear again.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: bzakharin on February 19, 2019, 12:47:04 PM
The closest thing to a road trip we ever did was a week-long whirlwind tour of Canada with stops (not all overnight) at Beltzville Lake, PA (state park in the Poconos for swimming), Niagara Falls, Toronto, [some half-way place right on Lake Ontario], and Montreal, around the year 2000. All the hotel reservations (as well as most major activities) were researched online and/or done by phone in advance. Food/fuel/rest stops (on toll-free roads) were done based on LOGO signs (at least in the US. I don't recall whether we made any unplanned stops in Canada) I remember printing out lists of radio stations we were likely to be interested in (for both news and music) near various locations along the way. But we relied on the highway advisory radio for the PA Turnpike just as we did (back then) for our trips on the NJ Turnpike which were much more common. Once off the turnpike there weren't any highway advisory stations, but there were lists of radio stations with regular traffic reports posted on some of the welcome signs along I-81.

Although Philadelphia's news station (KYW 1060) is not a clear channel, it was quite clearly audible during the night portion of our travel east along Lake Ontario.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: bandit957 on February 19, 2019, 12:49:50 PM
I remember printing out lists of radio stations we were likely to be interested in (for both news and music) near various locations along the way.

I used to buy the old M Street Radio Directories in the '90s, even after the 1996 Telecommunications Act ruined radio. These days, it just wouldn't be worth it.
Title: Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
Post by: Sctvhound on February 19, 2019, 10:43:25 PM
In the old days, radio was so much better, so travel often involved listening to radio through much of the trip. I also remember that people would blow bubbles with bubble gum on long trips, because that was a big pastime back then.

Holiday Inn was by far the dominant motel chain, and they published a print directory. The first routing software I remember was Automap, which came in the early '90s. But it only showed major towns and roads.

When you were refueling, you could actually smell the gasoline fumes. Nowadays, this doesn't happen.

In the 1990s and 2000s, there was a book called 'Next Exit', which listed restaurants at every Interstate exit.

That book is still around. I think Books-a-Million still carries it. I remember some of the very first mapping software Sierra did in the late 90s (‘96-‘98), and it was separated into two discs, one for east of the Mississippi, one for west of the Mississippi.

For radio/TV there was a site called 100000watts.com that had really good listings of every market in the nation. That was in the 2001-2003 timeframe, then they went pay. Those listings were important especially in the era before ubiquitous internet.