International travel, since ancient times – in purpose, style and destination – has seldom been affected by stagnation. In fact, it is characterized by being in a continuous evolutionary state, enveloping an intricate ongoing skein of globalization, commerce, and faddism.
The original international travelers of the past were basically merchants on missions, in search of profits for their royal patrons, and their travels were more akin to war and plunder than the sense of adventure associated with modern travel.
Usually, their travels were marked by accidents, resulting either in disaster, or in the discovery of new lands. They were essentially well-planned journeys that headed off into the utterly unknown. For example, Robert Falcon Scott’s polar expedition resulted in the entire party perishing.
Christopher Columbus of course thought he had journeyed to India, when he was actually on the other side of the globe.
Modern international travel can be traced to about 35 years back, with the advent of the first organized trips to the Himalayas in Nepalese territory, and thereafter the first commercialized African rafting trips.
World events have changed things so much since. While all through the ’80’s Nepal was the archetypal international travel destination; being caught up in Maoist uprising in recent years, it hardly features in any traveler’s itinerary these days. Bhutan, a mountain kingdom nearby, has been the main beneficiary, and is witnessing a surge in its tourism industry.
Likewise, Ethiopia, which was the location of the original rafting trips in the Blue Nile and Omo, is no longer favored as a travel destination, being embroiled in droughts, revolution and wars.
Each year brings forth new travel activities and destinations. In the ’70’s for instance, overland treks across Afghanistan, river runs in New Guinea and camel safaris in Algeria were favorites amongst travelers, which no longer are possible today.
In the ’80’s, the popular spots were the Egyptian Nile, for its felucca trips, eastern Turkey, for scaling Mount Ararat, plunging into the Red Sea, riding the waves of surf in Bali, all of which have been adversely affected by world events since.
The ’90’s witnessed the popularity of Alpine hikes, but that enthusiasm has been dampened today by the Euro rise against the dollar. Natural disasters too can affect international travel. For instance, the aftermath of the tsunami which hit Thailand, a popular destination until then, saw a dramatic fall in the tourism the following year or two.
With AIDS sweeping across Africa, its popular jungle safaris have been on a decline. The avian flu kept many travelers away from China and Southeast Asia.
However, destinations that were rarely favored by international travelers in the past are becoming popular these days, like Mozambique, Libya, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to name just a few.
Nevertheless, throughout this period of time, some destinations have retained their attraction as travel destinations due to low prices, a wide range of adventurous activities, and political stability.
Northern Queensland in Australia is an example, with its famous diving in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef, its river rafting in the rainforest, and excellent biking and hiking in the great weather that exists throughout the year.
International travel has become common place among travelers of all ages, locations and nationalities. The opportunity to experience a wide variety of culture and lifestyles has sparked a rise in travel abroad.