When did people start traveling by plane?

History of travel

Travel in the Middle Ages

Over the centuries, the speed and comfort of travel have changed tremendously. Traveling in the Middle Ages was very arduous and arduous. Mostly there were merchants, soldiers and pilgrims. Apart from noble ladies, women very rarely traveled.

The main obstacle on a journey was nature itself. The top priority was that you should never lose your orientation on the way. Otherwise you would have been lost in an unknown area where there were no signposts and only bad roads.

The main traffic routes were the "Viae Regiae", the royal routes that connected the residences in Hamburg, Kiel and Flensburg, for example. Despite the glamorous name, these were mostly bumpy dirt roads on which travelers sank into the mud in rain and snow.

And dangers lurked everywhere. There were highwaymen and robber barons who attacked merchants. Wild animals such as wild boars and bears, which could pose a fatal threat to travelers, also lived in the forests. In this respect, it was quite common to make your will before starting a trip.

Hostels alone offered travelers a bit of security on their way. Hospitality was also much greater in the Middle Ages than it is today. People were happy to take in strangers and entertain them.

Records from merchants show that knowledge of "Weg und Steg", as it was called back then - that is, which paths could be used and which accommodations were available - was the greatest asset for merchants. This also included knowing where rivers could be crossed, as there were only a few bridges in the Middle Ages. The travelers were therefore mostly dependent on fords. City names like Frankfurt still bear witness to this today.

A journey in the Middle Ages took a lot longer than it does today. A traveler covered 30 to 40 kilometers a day on foot. As a rider you were hardly faster. In order not to overload the horse, travelers on horseback could do a maximum of seven hours a day.

The most important means of transport - especially for merchants who transported a lot of goods - was the ox cart. The reliable pack animals managed just 15 to 16 kilometers a day in their trot.

18th century: educational trips

During the 18th century it became fashionable to go on educational trips. More and more aristocrats and wealthy people discovered the desire to travel. It was mainly the English who set out to discover the culture and art of mainland Europe. Often they also sent their children on a grand tour - an educational trip - across Europe.

Must-see places included Florence, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Nice, and Paris. One of the most famous educational travelers was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who set out for Italy in September 1786. Originally the trip was supposed to take a few months, in the end it was almost two years.

One can often read that Goethe fled to Italy, but that is hardly the case. The time out he took was planned. His chief employer knew exactly where he was.

Goethe wanted to rediscover antiquity in Italy. The longer he stayed there, the more he relaxed and the more he began to be interested in everyday life in Italy.

Goethe was very creative, he painted and wrote. He summarized his experiences and impressions in his biographical work "Italian Journey", which was published after his return.

Goethe loved it very comfortably when traveling. He had his own bed with him and a suitcase with a special compartment for his top hat. He transported all of this in his own carriage, the so-called Extra Post, which had right of way opposite the Ordinari Post.

The less well-off traveled much more Spartan than Goethe in the 18th century. The usual luggage was a simple wolf skin satchel, which usually contained a shirt, a change of clothes and a first-aid kit. Because tooth powder, Emsers salt and other various remedies for stomach ache and digestive problems were no longer foregoing.

19th century: luxury travel

Real pleasure and recreational trips established themselves in the 19th century. The goals became more and more unusual, the Rhine or Italy were no longer enough. You wanted to have fun and experience something unusual. It went with the Orient Express to Istanbul or with the steamboat to Egypt.

Agatha Christie's crime thrillers "Murder on the Orient Express" or "Death on the Nile" are literary testimonies to luxury travel. The Auror traveled extensively to Egypt and Arabia herself. Her husband, whom she often accompanied, was an archaeologist. As for the ambience of the trips described, the fine society with their extravagant clothes and expensive suits, Agatha Christie's crime novels are certainly a reflection of these glamorous journeys.

At that time, the gentleman and lady of the world usually traveled with two or three large wardrobe trunks in order to be able to stow the numerous hat boxes and utensils: such as brushes, powder, make-up, combs or men's shaving equipment.

20th century: travel for everyone

At the beginning of the 20th century, the wealthy bourgeoisie already spent a week or two in the summer. Favorite travel destinations were the glamorous seaside resorts on the North and Baltic Seas. However, the average consumer could not afford a trip until after the Second World War - apart from the organized tours of the Nazis in the Third Reich.

The goals were still very modest. Most of the time you took your first vacation in one of the German low mountain ranges. Immediately after the Second World War, Germans were not yet welcome guests abroad. In France, Denmark and the Netherlands, animosity towards German tourists continued for a long time.

At the end of the 1950s there was no stopping holidaymakers. The economic miracle made travel affordable for everyone. In 1958, 3.5 million German citizens traveled to Italy, the "land of longing" for Germans in the south. Special trains brought vacationers to South Tyrol and Lake Garda.

After Italy, German tourists discovered Mallorca. Even in the 1960s, a trip to the Balearic island was an insider tip for explorers. German was hardly spoken there. At the end of the 1970s, the mainland Spaniards finally discovered tourism as a source of income and the Germans were only too happy to come.

Over time, the destinations became more and more exotic. It became a matter of prestige to afford a long-haul trip to Thailand or the Maldives. In eastern Germany, people could only dream of Mallorca or other travel destinations.

Most of them were forced to travel between the Baltic Sea and the Thuringian Forest. And no trace of luxury on their travels. Even campsites were rare. But necessity is known to make people inventive: The "Villa Sachsenruh", a roof tent for the Trabant, became a hit in the GDR.

Travel today

Today practically anything is possible when it comes to travel - whether by boat to the Inuit in the Arctic, on foot through the Gobi desert or hiking in the German low mountain range. Wellness offers are also in demand. No holiday resort or hotel can escape health when traveling.

Extreme vacations such as cave hiking, free climbing or white water swimming are particularly popular with those who are looking for the thrill of their trip and want to explore their own limits.

But the media-effective adventure trips are not booked as often as the industry would have us believe. Relaxation is at the top of the list for most travelers. The main thing is that the sun is shining and the sea is on your doorstep.

Inexpensive and online

Since the 1990s, two trends have shaken up the travel market: The prices for air travel have fallen rapidly - thanks to low-cost carriers, flying is no longer a privilege of the rich. At the same time, more and more people are booking their holidays on the Internet, which is increasingly causing difficulties for the major tourism companies.

Travel has become more hectic and individual as a result. The three-week summer vacation in the mountains or by the sea has had its day. Instead, you can afford a city trip in spring, a wellness weekend in autumn, a few days of skiing in winter and a trip to the beach in summer. Bookings are often only made shortly before the start of the journey - after comparing prices on the home PC.

Opinions are divided as to whether the long-awaited relaxation comes about or whether traveling becomes an additional stress factor. One thing is certain: the short vacation time is associated with more expectations than ever before. Travel should educate as well as relax, bring the final kick and above all be one thing: authentic.

The growing market for alternative travel providers is benefiting from this demand - the trend is towards "soft tourism". According to surveys, more and more Germans are willing to dig a little deeper into their pockets for environmentally and socially compatible vacations.

And if you want to be really adventurous, you can swap your apartment for the vacation time on Internet exchanges or find hosts with whom you can spend the night on the couch for free. When traveling today, (almost) everything is possible - and that's how it should be in the most beautiful weeks of the year.