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I was thinking about my trips to the USA (travelling from England) back in the early 80s. I had an average job and yet I remember hiring a full-size hire car from Avis, staying in mid-range hotels and dining out in good restaurants without breaking the bank.

The flight was the most expensive element. My first flight to the USA in 1978 was on Laker Skytrain – the first low-cost airline. But the fares were still the equivalent of paying £1500 for a return flight – okay I didn’t exactly work this out using graphs and inflation, but I seem to remember it was £200 return which was a lot back then. And that was before Air Passenger Duty and high oil prices, so plenty of profit to be made. Airlines like Pan Am and BOAC must have been awash with cash.

My US Dollars seemed to go a long way back then and so I looked for an historical currency converter tool. Many of the online conversion sites only go back to 1995, but I found this one http://fxtop.com/en/currency-converter-past.php – it isn’t pretty but did enable me to discover that I was getting $2.14 for my £1 back in May 1981. Compare that to $1.58 – £1 today.

I also remember feeling flush with cash in Toronto back in 1980. And now I can see why as I was getting CAD$2.80 for my £1 back in October 1980. Compare that to CAD$1.93 – £1 today.

Despite the less favourable exchange rates, one thing doesn’t change – the glare of new, shiny white sports shoes worn by the hordes of passengers returning to England from the USA!