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Author Topic: How was travel back in the good old days?  (Read 2453 times)

PHLBOS

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #25 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.
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abefroman329

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #26 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.
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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #27 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.
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abefroman329

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #28 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."
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abefroman329

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #29 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.
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Sctvhound

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #30 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.
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kphoger

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #31 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.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #32 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. 

ErmineNotyours

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #33 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)
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sparker

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #34 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. 
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Brian556

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #35 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.
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1995hoo

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #36 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.
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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #37 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.
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1995hoo

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #38 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.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

vdeane

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #39 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.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #40 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.
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ctkatz

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #41 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.
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wanderer2575

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #42 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.
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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #43 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¢.
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abefroman329

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #44 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.
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1995hoo

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #45 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.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

abefroman329

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #46 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.
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ErmineNotyours

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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #47 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.
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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #48 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.
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Re: How was travel back in the good old days?
« Reply #49 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).
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