International travel, since ancient times – in purpose, style and destination – has seldom been affected by stagnation. In fact, it is characterized by being in a continuous evolutionary state, enveloping an intricate ongoing skein of globalization, commerce, and faddism.
The original international travelers of the past were basically merchants on missions, in search of profits for their royal patrons, and their travels were more akin to war and plunder than the sense of adventure associated with modern travel.
Usually, their travels were marked by accidents, resulting either in disaster, or in the discovery of new lands. They were essentially well-planned journeys that headed off into the utterly unknown. For example, Robert Falcon Scott’s polar expedition resulted in the entire party perishing.
Christopher Columbus of course thought he had journeyed to India, when he was actually on the other side of the globe.
Modern international travel can be traced to about 35 years back, with the advent of the first organized trips to the Himalayas in Nepalese territory, and thereafter the first commercialized African rafting trips.
World events have changed things so much since. While all through the ’80’s Nepal was the archetypal international travel destination; being caught up in Maoist uprising in recent years, it hardly features in any traveler’s itinerary these days. Bhutan, a mountain kingdom nearby, has been the main beneficiary, and is witnessing a surge in its tourism industry.
Likewise, Ethiopia, which was the location of the original rafting trips in the Blue Nile and Omo, is no longer favored as a travel destination, being embroiled in droughts, bajatraveler and wars.
Each year brings forth new travel activities and destinations. In the ’70’s for instance, overland treks across Afghanistan, river runs in New Guinea and camel safaris in Algeria were favorites amongst travelers, which no longer are possible today.