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How to do this today: The digital age ushered in choice and flexibility to a sunshine holiday. Now you can come and sizzle on the costa of your choice via traditional package or budget flight and self-catering apartment. And going is still the only way of securing a straw donkey, which astonishingly, cannot be purchased online.

1970s
While Mum and Dad were schlepping to the Costa del Sol (or other fashionable costa), rebellious teenagers dropped out and headed for Kathmandu. Overland. The Hippy Trail was at its zenith in the 1970s, bringing to various parts of the Middle East and Central Asia gaggles of long-haired kaftan-wearing westerners and impromptu yoga sessions.

How to do this today: Crossing Iran and Pakistan takes a little more planning than it did 40 years ago, and Kabul is not the crossroads it once was. But anyone heading from Istanbul to Nepal will find there is still a Freak Street in Kathmandu, complete with chocolate cake, dreadlocks and all the tie-dye you can handle.

1980s
The ‘80s brought wider horizons for millions of younger travellers as an adventurous few months on the road gained popularity. The European rail pass – whether InterRail or Eurail – was at the peak of popularity. This excellent value way to cross the continent did not just link big cities and idyllic rural branch lines, it also brought together penniless travellers from around the world for a month-long series of rolling parties. Not that anyone even vaguely attractive wanted to talk to you, as you had not had a wash since Belgrade a fortnight ago.

How to do this today: InterRail is still around, and still a great way to explore Europe. In fact, you can combine it with budget flights to avoid backtracking. The true connoisseur will take the time-honoured option of sleeping on the free ferry from Italy to Greece, under the Adriatic stars.

1990s
In the early 1990s the world opened up to travellers, with previously hard-to-reach places emerging from decades of isolation. From the Soviet Union to Central America, this was a decade of blazing new trails. And as the decade ended, improved transport and communication links meant more places were accessible as well as safer, and you could reliably phone home to brag about it.

How to do this today: The old world continues to meet the new in Hong Kong, which began the 1990s as part of the British Empire and finished it as a Special Autonomous Region of China. The cream teas and Rolls Royces at the Peninsula Hotel are still here but they have been joined by fast rail links to the rest of China and ranks of new skyscrapers jostling for space on the city’s famous skyline.

2000s
How dull flying must have been when we had our bags taken from us with little fuss then receive an assigned seat and a complimentary meal, before arriving at a convenient rather than remote airport for our destination! And yet, before low-cost carriers swept the globe, this was what came as standard when flying. By the time the decade was out, flag carriers were in retreat for all but long-haul flying and a 60km journey to central Oslo had become part of the fun.

How to do this today: Take a weekend break to an obscure destination in eastern Europe. Bydgoszcz, Poland or Plovdiv, Bulgaria both fit the bill.

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© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Retro travel’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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