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Retro Travel: 9 Beautiful Ways to Go “Back to the Future” in 2015 and Travel Like It’s 1985

In the 1980s classic film Back to the Future 2, the main character, Marty McFly, is transported into a futuristic America where people commute to work via flying cars, wrist watches predict the weather and shoe laces magically lace themselves. That futuristic America was set to take place this year—in 2015.

While the movie was way off in its predictions (you can read just how far off they were in this: Back to the Future Part II’: How Accurate Were Its Predictions of 2015 Technology?), the B2TF trilogy still remains one of my favorite childhood film franchises. Here are several ways we can all go “Back to the Future Past”, embrace nostalgia, and relive the glory days of travel.

“Vintage” Travel Goals for 2015

1. Go on a “digital detox” for a weekend or a week.

Completely unlug. No cell phones or selfies. Just you and the Real World.

2. Leave the GPS at home

Travel somewhere new and dare to get lost. Have an adventure. Experience what it feels like to have no idea where you are and no ability to Google Map your way back to civilization.

1980s travel
photo credit: Sesc em São Paulo via photopin cc

3. Go on a weekend trip without your camera

Be fully present and see what the scenery looks like away from the lens of a point-and-shoot or cell phone. It’s good for your health. In fact, research has found you’ll remember something better if you don’t take a picture of it.

4. Or…if you must bring a camera, take a disposable one

There’s something pleasantly nerve-wracking about dropping your film off at Walgreens and waiting in excited anticipation for your photos to develop. We lost a bit of that magic when we went digital.

4. Send someone a postcard. An actual post card. Via snail mail.

Or better yet, send a hand-written letter.

5. Make a road trip mix tape of your favorite travel songs

Bonus points if it’s on an actual cassette tape.

6. The next time you fly, put on your Sunday Best

1980s air travel
From Delta Airlines 1980s-themed Inflight Safety Briefing video.

Treat air travel like it’s a special, once-in-a-blue moon event instead of something so ordinary you’d do it in your pajamas. Back in the 80s, air travel wasn’t as common as it is today and the fact that humans could hurtle in a metal tube 35,000 feet above Earth (and live to tell the tale!) was still considered an impressive feat. Once upon a time, people used to get dressed up to fly. Sometimes its nice to remember how privileged we are to be able to traverse thousands of miles in just a few hours.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s Louis CK clever rant about how we take technology for granted:

Also, read this: 10 Things Kids Today Would Never Believe about Flying in the 1980s.

And this: 11 Things We No Longer See on Airplanes

7. Go camping in a 1985 pop up camper van

Because why not? VW campers are awesome!

1980s VW camper van
photo credit: tbone_sandwich via photopin cc

8. Buy a travel guide book

Guide books are not as popular as they once were now that we have travel blogs and TripAdvisor, and that’s a shame. Travel guides provided information from true experts—locals who’d lived or traveled extensively in the area, not just someone with a Yelp profile passing through on a weekend layover. The next time you visit somewhere new, buy a guide book and enjoy the tactile experience of running your fingers down the paper pages and breathing in that new book smell.

Did you know old Lonely Planet travel books used to give detailed instructions on where you could go to buy weed? Read this to learn more: 10 Reasons Why Lonely Planet Guidebooks Aren’t as Good as They Used to Be.

9. Live on the wild side

In the 80s, children rode in trunks of station wagons and pick-up trucks and infant car seats were, well, in their infancy. Kids roamed the neighborhoods at dusk by themselves, people smoked inflight and bicycle riders rarely wore helmets. While there’s nothing wrong with seatbelt laws and most everyone is probably grateful they no longer have to arrive to their destinations smelling of stale cigarette smoke, the increase in safety laws and regulations means life has become more tame in the last couple of decades; less adventurous.

Thus, make 2015 the year you take more risks. Embrace uncertainty, face your fears and venture out of your comfort zone. Or as Marty Mcfly would say, “Nobody calls me chicken.”

What vintage travel traditions do you miss most? What are your goals for 2015?

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