Friday, October 7, 2011

The Golden Age of Travel

Last time my Mother came to stay, on the morning of her departure I was awoken at 5am in the morning by the sound of her pacing heels clicking up and down on the parquet floor outside our bedroom.  We did not have to set off for the airport until 7 am but she was anxious.  Not of flying but the general process that modern travel now entails.  She comes from a different age, an age where terrorism was not a threat to travellers, dressing up to travel was the norm (as in her words "you never know who you might meet" to this day my Mother always looks fabulous when she travels and when I have travelled, following my Mothers example, I have nearly always been upgraded). Where along with a handbag, ladies also carried a vanity case as hand luggage, filled with necessary toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, jewellery and fresh lingerie, for freshening up on route or just in case the checked luggage did not turn up at the intended destination. It was an age when the comfort and well being of passengers was equally as important as the profits.  Now frankly my Mother finds the whole process stressful.  Nowadays you have to pay an awful lot of money to get the kind of service and courtesy's  that previous generations expected as the norm. For example one UK airport now charges £2.00 to all cars merely dropping off or picking up relatives and friends outside the airport terminal, regardless of how brief the stay is, I dare say other airports will soon follow suit.

When one was travelling for pleasure the journey used to be as important as the destination but today it's all about the destination.  Necessary but stringent airport security, the advent of low cost travel, increasing travelling populations, a general drop in standards and cuts due to the current economic climate all have to be factored in.  I don't think many of us get excited about the journey any more.

It's no wonder so many of us get nostalgic about how it used to be, especially rail travel, my last UK train experience was expensive and dire.

Sweethearts embrace, Britain, WWII

 Of course there are ways to make todays travel experience more palatable, thanks to the internet, most of us are in charge of our own travel arrangements, we can shop around for the best deals, check up on the latest security requirements and with careful and cunning packing can beat low cost airlines extremely stingy baggage allowances.  I do recommend dressing well but comfortably because you just never no who you may meet or when you might be upgraded.

Orient Express

For the nostalgic amongst us there are still opportunities for glamorous travel, if you have deep pockets the Orient Express is still number one for luxurious travel to beautiful destinations.

 The Poppy Line

In Norfolk, Britain you can relive the past and take a very reasonably priced nostalgic trip on a vintage steam train on the Poppy Line, over stunning countryside, you can even dress up in vintage as amongst other things they hold a 1940's weekend and period murder, mystery events.

 Le Train Bleu

And my particular favourite would have to be lunch or dinner at Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon in Paris, it's the full glamour, old world travel experience whether your catching a train or not.

If your travelling this weekend, by any means, I wish you Bon Voyage.


  1. Dash, it's too bad that travel has changed from a luxurious experience to a necessary evil. I used to look forward to traveling and now I avoid it.
    Still when I do have to travel I always try to dress well. I find that the better I am dressed, the better I am treated by the airline employees and security people.

    I love the vintage travel posters.

  2. "Still when I do have to travel I always try to dress well. I find that the better I am dressed, the better I am treated by the airline employees and security people".

    Belle that is an excellent point, I was wondering how to add that in to the post, you have put it beautifully.

  3. I do agree. I used to love travelling by train...but now all travel seems to be an endurance course.
    My mother is 96 and wishes to come out to see us in Costa Rica now that she is mobile again after hip and knee I'm searching for the best combination of departure airports and flights to make the journey as easy as possible.
    It is essential she does not enter the U.S. because one encounter with an official wanting her to look into a camera and have her fingerprints checked will bring on a tirade that she did not fight against Hitler to be treated like a criminal...and the American immigration people seem particularly humourless.

    She too dresses well to travel!

  4. Great story Dash. I, too, enjoyed the vintage posters and old pictures. What you said about dressing elegantly while traveling reminded me of a famous quote by the great Coco Chanel: "I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny."-- How true, and what a wise woman she was. I look around where I live and I see a lot of women who would benefit from reading your post! ;-) Bon weekend, Dash. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  5. Hello Dash

    This is so true and, like you, I always wear comfortable, but not jeans or yoga pants, when travelling.
    I have found that regardless of how ill treated I am by airport employees, I refuse to let them change my happy mood. One must be vigilant when travelling and "remain calm and carry on"
    How fabulous it would be to return to gentler days of good manners and kindness.


  6. Proof that although a newbie, I am addicted: already yesterday I wondered "Hm, no news from Dash"! It seems that you, like myself, post not for posting but when you have something to share (actually mine today being an exception).

    Travel. Oh my. I have seen both sides of the coin when flying as when I have gone on assignment, I have been upgraded quite often--but I would say equally because of dressing well and a bit of friendly talk at the check in desk--their life is no picnic either. I wish so much that I had experienced the luxury of train travel once--just once! I have a lovely "train case" as well as a "vanity case" at the ready.

    Have a wonderful WE, Dash, this was gorgeous!

  7. Just at the beginning of summer I came across The Golden Age of Travel: 1880-1939 by Alexis Gregory. It's a very well illustrated book. Have a look if you have a chance!

  8. Your mum isn't the only one who is stressed by travel. I'm off to London next week (BA into Gatwick) and I have been dreaming about it almost every night.

    And not in a good way.

    I will dress beautifully for travelling instead of comfortably and see whether it makes any difference. Possibly it won't, seeing as how I'll be travelling with Tartarus and Sonshine (who currently does not own a pair of trousers with knees in them thanks to his new ripstick board passion)

    Lovely pix, as always, Dash!

    Ali x

  9. I love those vintage ads. At one time, travel really was glamourous.


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