Remember those first steps abroad?

The Thomson Dreamliner advert brings back all the memories of holidays in the dim and distant past. At a time when internet was where my tennis serve ended up , travel was more of a step into the unknown than it is now. You visited the travel agents and took back a huge selection of brochures. Winter evenings were spent reading all about the many hotels you could stay in and then finally narrowing it right down to the ones you could actually afford.

If you were “ in the know” you would ask for a sneak look at the under the counter book the travel agents had which had true opinions of resorts and hotels. Other than that, you could only hope the brochures were telling the truth and that the 5 minutes from the beach claim didn’t mean 5 minutes by plane. Or of course, you relied on friends who had been to the resort before.
You started to get really excited when you went to the travel agent to collect your tickets. The big day arrived and you headed off to the airport early to make sure you got seats together, and to get your choice of smoking or non smoking. Inflight entertainment meant reading a good book. Food onboard was inedible (so what’s changed?) You got your photo taken coming off the plane.

Air conditioning in the hotel meant opening the windows. You could never sleep at night as the heat was unbearable. There was one tv in the entire hotel, and everyone packed into the tv lounge when the football was on. There were English newspapers in the resort but they were 2 days old. You had to write what felt like thousands of postcards on day 2 of your holiday for there to be even the slimmest chance of them arriving through the letterboxes within a week of you being home. A call home meant waiting in a long queue in the resort centre.

You absolutely had to get on the plane on the return with a sombrero on and carrying a straw donkey. Your castanets, Spanish doll, sangria and record of Y Viva Espana were safely packed away. The first chance you got after unpacking you rushed down town to put your film spools in to be developed and to find out when next year’s brochures were being published.

I vividly remember my first holiday abroad, when I was 11 years old. We went to the Aqua Azul in Benidorm. We were woken up at dawn everyday by the cock crowing in the farm directly behind the hotel. We couldn’t ever have an early night as we were right next to the open air cinema, which played Oliver on a continual loop for the entire fortnight we were there. I was very sick after eating asparagus for the first time: I had to get stitches in a toe after stepping on a broken tile in the swimming pool and my little sister collapsed on a bus taking us to the weekly market and had to see a doctor. We had a brilliant holiday.

Does any of this bring back similar memories to you? Can you remember holidays in the days before holiday forums and review sites? Was travel more exciting way back then as you ventured into the unknown? Come on – tell us what your memories are: