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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Stuff I used to travel with

Do these items look familiar to you?

The Pocket edition of the Official Airline Guide was a must. Published every month, it had all the airline schedules for the U.S. and Canada. In those days there were more airlines than today, and they honored one another's tickets in many cases —  so if your flight was delayed, the OAG could help you find identify a re-reroute.

This small item from Rand McNally (remember them?) had road maps of about 75 major cities… very handy when planning a trip or finding one's way when lost. I supplemented these with a collection of the freebie maps that rental car companies gave out.

Everyone used payphones at airports, and these were indispensable to make telephone calls at reasonable prices. Also useful in hotel rooms.

Another useful item when planning a trip. I had a collection of these directories from fifteen or twenty hotel chains. When someone said "Go to Saskatoon!" (and someone really did tell me that once), I wanted to have my own data about where I might sleep.

That child seated next to you is really unhappy halfway through a four-hour flight? Here's the fix. I kept a supply of them to give away and usually succeeded in not eating them myself.

When traveling overseas, travelers checks were the best way to obtain currency in the local country. They would also come in handy during an extended trip within the U.S.

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) was, by far, the best over-the-counter decongestant.

So, what became of these items? The OAG, maps, and directories were replaced by websites and eventually apps on smart phones — the Swiss army knife of the road warrior. Likewise, calling cards have almost disappeared. Most parents became too concerned with nutrition to give their kids candy or too mistrustful of strangers to accept it. ATM networks (and ATMs with multi-lingual user interfaces) did away with travelers checks. The FDA banned PPA because of side-effects; but passenger aircraft today provide better control of the cabin altitude, making it easier for the allergy-afflicted to keep one's ears clear during descent.