Destinations Through the Decades

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The Classic Vacation

Over the years, the American vacation has evolved along with changing transportation technology, travel trends and work habits.  Pack your Polaroid camera, VHS camcorder and smartphone to check out our infographic and see vacations go from the dawn of commercial air travel to the Vegas boom to the "fake-ation."  How have your vacations changed over the years?


During the Jet Age, commercial air travel let travelers check out new and exciting locations like Disneyland or Las Vegas. Tourist attractions became must-see hotspots. Everyone brought along their camera, and after trips, friends were invited over to see every picture from the trip and sit through a detailed explanation.


Americans hit the road, spending their vacations exploring the country in RVs and station wagons. Families checked out local national parks and monuments and enjoyed quality time together during the drive. Instant film, first introduced by Polaroid, gave travelers a taste of the gratification of viewing photos immediately (or at least after a few good shakes).


After the recession in the early 80s, the economy rebounded, and the US sustained economic growth. With this growth came a rise in upscale vacation destinations, increasing travel to exotic resorts and Walt Disney World. Camcorders allowed travelers to tape every fun-filled minute of their trip and play these videos for friends to relieve the experience.


With a new decade came the transformation of Las Vegas from an adults-only destination to a family-friendly playground. Casinos created arcades for children, and less-racy shows were performed. A thriving economy gave people an opportunity to spend their excess money on souvenirs. They shared their experiences through photos and had enough cash to bring home t-shirts, stuffed animals and keychains they won after spending too much money on games. The emerging Web also created a way for people to begin to share their experiences virtually.


As the economy took a downturn, people looked for budget-friendly ways to get rest and relaxation, resulting in the rise of the "staycation." Whether it was taking a few vacation days to relax at home or pretending to be a tourist in their own town, Americans fit in a little holiday fun and saved on transportation and lodging. Social media also transformed vacation sharing, allowing people to over-share online as well as in person.


Advancements in technology have made travel research and booking easier than ever. Travelers can now share their experiences in real time by posting photos and sharing videos to social media sites for all to see. But the downside of this constant connection is that work is also only a click away. Travelers now find themselves on a "fake-cation," checking email and taking calls the whole time.

Through the Decades

All these years later, Americans still prefer the same top destinations for their vacations. Of the top 10 dream vacation destinations listed for 2012, three are in the US:

As technology continues to evolve, so do our travel plans. Who know where we'll be vacationing in the future and to what extent we'll be able to annoy our friends with our vacation experiences!