Quote from colorfusion
Without sprinting, horses, speed potions, beds, and even the nether, I felt that the terrain you were given on a new world was a lot more meaningful. You couldn't just go charging past hundreds of biomes until you find another mountain biome that looks exactly like the others; if you start with a cliff on your left and an overhang behind you then that was pretty much where you stayed and built everything, those 2 features would define the world and make it different from any other seed. Without compasses and beds if you left to explore you had to find your own way back to camp, so going out and finding a new cave system or a desert was a pretty big thing, and not something you'd be doing on your first few days.
You're so right.