Which factor was the most significant in the expansion of travel from the eighteenth century onward? 

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Technology is likely the most significant factor in how travel developed from the eighteenth century onward, particularly the invention and development of engines. The earliest experiments of the steam engine began in the seventeenth century. While sail power at sea and animal power on land remained the primary modes of propulsion in the following century, the steam engine was further developed. Around 1800, steam power began to effectively be applied to mechanisms of travel. However, prototype steam-powered locomotives were made as early as the 1780s. Shortly afterward, steam-powered boats were tested on various canals in North America and Britain.

During the nineteenth century, combustion and steam engines developed. This was applied to locomotive and marine travel. As it developed, it became faster, cheaper, and safer to travel long distances. Voyages that previously took months could be completed in days.

Throughout this period, there were various experiments in developing effective internal combustion engines. In the 1880s, internal combustion engines began to be applied to vehicle travel. Pretty soon they replaced most steam engines. The efficiency and power of internal combustion engines allowed for the development of faster and cheaper vehicles, such as the automobile. In the early-twentieth century, this allowed cars and trucks to become the primary mode of transportation in the developed world. It did not take long before internal combustion engines led to the development of aircraft. With air travel, it became possible for people and goods to cross vast distances in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks.

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