Apart from the actual travelling , obviously.

Things Helen Loves started out as a travel blog. It’s meandered about a bit. There’s been a few lifestyle posts, lots of graveyards, a bit of army wife life thrown in along the way. I always return to travel and exploring. It’s what I love. This hasn’t been the year for travel. Oh there were plans aplenty, most of which didn’t happen. We did have fun sleeping in a historic church and discovering a desert in Kent. All was not lost.

By mid November or so, I’d decided to just stay home. Over cautious? Admitting defeat? Maybe. But the right decision for me, for now. There are future plans that hopefully won’t go the same way as last years!

Sleeping in a Historic Church, our biggest adventure in 2020.

As people think about travel again, there’s a lot of talk about things being different. Of course they will be, Covid has probably been the biggest force of change in the travel industry since 9/11. The whole thing got me thinking about how travel has changed over the years. Some things just aren’t the way they used to be. For example…


The humble postcard. The arty ones, the scenic ones, ones with a saucy joke. How many of us still send them? I’ll admit, I stopped sending them years ago and didn’t give it a thought until recently. I still pick them up where ever I go, and Mr THL always sends one home from his travels. I love receiving them. So, yes, we have social media and instant messaging but let’s not let the printed postcard become a thing of the past.

I’m not alone in this post card passion. I’ve just signed up to Postcrossing, an online project that allows people all over the world to send and receive postcards. Spreading smiles and surprises one postcard at a time, what’s not to like about that? Thanks to Little Miss Traveller for the Postcrossing tip.

A little FYI. Britain was the nation that paved the way for the postcard as we know it. British postcard printers were the first to use one side for an image and to divide the back into a space for a message and the address. I’ve no idea when that little nugget of information might be useful, but there you go.

Paper Tickets & Luggage Tags

Back in the days before online booking, e-tickets, QR codes and Apple Wallet most people booked holidays with a travel agent. A real person, in a physical building who would sit surrounded by glossy brochures whilst finding us our perfect holiday on, ‘The System’. And when you’d found it, booked it and paid for it you’d wait with the greatest of excitement for the phone call telling you your tickets were in. Paper tickets, don’t-lose-them tickets. Usually handed over in a glossy wallet accompanied by paper luggage labels to fill out and pop onto your suitcase. That little wallet meant the time to travel had just about arrived. Exciting stuff.

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

I can’t remember the last time I had a paper ticket for anything. Although I know its slicker and more sustainable not to have them, I do think something has been lost. As for luggage tags, I used to be able to grab them at the desk if I was checking luggage with Lufthansa but I generally road trip or go hand luggage only so they don’t really feature for me these days. I guess they’ve gone the same way as paper tickets?

FYI on this one; a major cause of luggage going astray is nothing to do with the airline, but down to passengers leaving old check in tags on bags. If you don’t travel hand luggage only, strip all the old tags off your bags before you check in again. Which brings me neatly to my next point…


Luggage itself isn’t a thing of the past. From hand luggage only to travellers who check in multiple bags, luggage is still a thing. But isn’t it a crazy, multi coloured world now? Last time I flew, waiting for my case at the carousel, I was amazed by the different colours and patterns passing before my eyes. I’m sure luggage used to come in matching sets and muted tones. Maybe I have a romanticised view of luggage of days gone by.

Fantasy-versus-reality when it comes to luggage….

I actually have a lot of love for these three, they’ve served me far, wide & well.

When I travel now, there’s no romance on the luggage front. We tend to go hand luggage only, which is a massive achievement for me, traditionally never knowingly underpacked. Mr THL can fit six months of life into an army bag, so he’s alright. If money and luggage allowance were no object I’d love to travel with a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk or a pretty set from Steamline . An absolute fantasy given that I’m a budget traveller, a bit messy apt to spill something and need tough bags that can be slung on and off trains, rained on, sat on by the dog etc etc. Sigh. A girl can dream.

Guide Books

Do you ever watch Great Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo? Brilliant show, love his sense of fun and colourful wardrobe. But the real star of the show is his guide book, his trusty Bradshaw’s. Because guidebooks are brilliant. And, sadly, in danger of becoming completely underrated.

I love travel blogs and websites, browsing and seeking inspiration. I know guide books are bulky, expensive and basically out of date the moment they are published. And yet…I still think they deserve a place in every travellers life. And bookshelf. Why?

In my favourite library, the Lit & Phil in Newcastle. I’m not sure how many of the books in this image are travel guides, but I’m certain this place could find what you need!

Because they include a depth of knowledge and contest you just can’t replicate in a blog post. Books are bursting with well researched historical and cultural facts, professionally edited for easy reading and often written by people on the ground in a specific area. That insider knowledge is golden. You’re also likely to find nuggets of knowledge and off-the-track attractions that won’t make the pages of monetized blogs. Why? Because writing about obscure , unlikely- to -be -searched- for places doesn’t help make the rankings or generate paid work. I’m not saying there’s not a place for a beautifully written travel blog, just that they shouldn’t push guidebooks out of the picture. Oh, that and the fact I’m old school and enjoy the feel of a weighty book in hand, browsing , marking a chapter to return to later. Lets face it, Portillo has carved a successful TV franchise and a whole host of adventures out a book hundreds of years after it was written. That has got to say something to the value of a well written travel guide.

Now, where’s my Bradshaws Lonely Planet?

Helen x

20 thoughts

  1. Hey, I didn’t know guide books were no longer needed by the traveller. I still haul a couple around with me, one with great pictures and one with lots of text. Sure, they take up a lot of room but I couldn’t manage without them. I miss the paper tickets and the wallet full of information (and oftimes the 3 different currencies when travelling in Europe) and I’ve already blogged about missing postcards at https://travels-with-my-camera.blog/2020/05/21/wish-you-were-here-2/. I’ll sign up to Postcrossing, sounds just what I’d like. And although I like Michael Portillo’s programme, the king surely is Simon Reeves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great minds think alike once again. Reading the comments on here I’m rethinking my perception of the guide book, perhaps they are more popular than I give credit for. Maybe I’m not reading and using them enough…time to order myself a few and put that right! I do like Simon Reeves also, and I enjoy Joanna Lumley travel shows. Interesting how different people travel differently though, isn’t it?


    1. I love that! I hope they do stay and sale flourish. Lonely Planet guides are my favourite. Other guides are, of course, available.


  2. Don’t send postcards, but always buy a guidebook. Much handier for flicking through and consulting on the go without using up battery or data. That said, I’ll always have checked opening times and up to date restaurant recommendations online. I note your passport illustration – that will soon be historic! Mine hasn’t expired but has less than 6 months to run so is basically useless. I see no prospect of using it in the immediate future anyway, but when I do replace it I’ll have one of those wonderful new blue ones that make Brexit worthwhile (sarcasm alert).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you know I didn’t even think about the B word when I posted that! Yes, I suppose I shall have to update at some point. I wonder how much updating the guide books will need in the post Brexit days?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope you enjoy your Postcrossing experience Helen. Like you, I’m a great fan of Portillo’s rail series and I’ve got shelves full of guide books. I’d love to visit that library in Newcastle sometime too! Hope Christmas went well for you too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marion, I hope you enjoyed Christmas. Mine was pretty good in the end. Gathering via Zoom was an interesting way of doing it though! On the bright side ‘hosting’ online means a lot less prep and cleaning up- every cloud?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Who doesn’t love postcards, they are the one thing I do buy a lot of when travelling, they make great bookmarks and you can scribble notes on them.
    Yep travel is good for the soul.


  5. I noticed the lack of postcards being sold on my travels last year! When I first started travelling in my early 20s, I thought postcards were the coolest with some fantastic designs. So glad I bought some then. I hope they still stick around. Have heard of postcrossing too and might sign up one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect there isn’t much money to be made in the postcard business these days…especially not this year! Hopefully they’ll enjoy a revival. Postcrossing is good fun, I hope yo do get signed up.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Now I want to cry 😦 I am really missing traveling, but most of all – that stress you got before going out of your home! Because you hope, that you didn’t forget something important and you are also so excited about the trip!


    1. We will get there and travel again . And appreciate it all so much more, even the stress! Thanks for stopping by 😊


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