Back in high school, I purchased an old travel guide to Europe at a library book sale. It taught me some valuable lessons about inflation and changing social expectations. But I really only used it for ironic comedy value.
My friend Doug Mack, on the other hand, took his interest in 1960s travel guides a bit further. He actually went to Europe, following the advice and directions of Arthur Frommer's groundbreaking Europe on Five Dollars a Day. He's written a book about his experiences, called (appropriately) Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day.
It's a bit more than just wacky hijinks, though. One of the interesting things Doug gets into in the book is the history of why Frommer's guide ended up being so important. It's hard to imagine today, but there was a time, not so very long ago, when the concept of "budget travel" did not exist. Frommer represented a major shift in how Americans thought about vacationing, especially vacationing to Europe.
To demonstrate just how profound that shift was, Doug put together a video illustrating the packing advice of Temple Fielding—the most prominent travel author before Frommer.
The list of items comes from a 1968 profile of Fielding by John McPhee in The New Yorker:
"Fielding uses two suitcases, and in them he packs thirty-five handkerchiefs (all of hand- rolled Swiss linen and all bearing his signature, hand- embroidered), ten shirts, ten ties, ten pairs of undershorts, three pairs of silk pajamas, eight pairs of socks, evening clothes, three pairs of shoes, a lounging robe, a pair of sealskin slippers, and two toilet kits. . . . He wears one suit and carries two."
Also, to get around baggage fees— a headache even back then—Fielding carried a raffia basket (the airlines didn’t know how to classify it, so they essentially just ignored it; try that on your next trip). Its contents included “a bottle of maraschino cherries, a bottle of Angostura bitters, a portable Philips three-speed record- player, five records (four of mood music and ‘one Sinatra always’), a leather-covered RCA transistor radio, an old half- pint Heublein bottle full of vermouth, and a large nickel thermos with a wide mouth.” He also had a calfskin briefcase that he designed himself and whose copious compartments held another forty-one items, including bottles of brandy and Johnnie Walker, a yodeling alarm clock, plus more standard items like toothbrushes and notebooks.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.