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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Traveling, Old-Timey Style

While hunting through an 1876 issue of The Southern Herald newspaper out of Liberty, MS, I ran across an article listing several travel tips. Some of these tips won’t do you any good in 21st-century America, but several are still great ideas, surprisingly. Following these tips will likely make your last-minute summer get-away or any other trips go a little more smoothly.

  • Take one-fourth more money than your actual estimated expenses.
  • Acquaint yourself with the geography of the route and region of travel.
  • Take with you a month’s supply of patience, and always think thirteen times before you reply once to any real or supposed rudeness or insult, or inattention.
  • Do not allow yourself to converse in a tone loud enough to be heard by a person at two or three seats away; it is the mark of a boar, if in a man, and want of refinement and lady like delicacy if in a woman. A gentleman is not noisy; ladies are serene.
  • Comply cheerfully and gracefully with the customs of the conveyances in which you travel, and of the places where you stop.
  • Respect yourself by exhibiting the manner of a gentleman and a lady if you wish to receive the respect of others.
  • Travel is a great leveler; take the position which others assign you from your conduct rather than from your pretentions.
There were a few more suggestions on the list, but I’m not sure of how useful they would be to modern travelers. For example, the paper suggests a way to rig a security system using a room key and a wash basin:

“The most, if not the only secure fastening of your chamber door is a common bolt on the inside; if there is none, lock the door, turn the key so that it can be drawn partly out, and put the wash basin under it; thus any attempt to use a jimmy or put in a false key will push it out and cause a racket among the crockery, which will be pretty certain to rouse the sleeper and rout the robber.”

Hmm, it sounds like a good idea. All you have to do is find a hotel room featuring a moveable wash basin and doors that require a key to lock from the inside!

Then there’s the paper’s advisement against eating on the run:

“A sixpenny sandwich eaten leisurely in the cars is better for you than a dollar dinner bolted at a station.”

The message is clear: it’s better to take your time eating a simple meal than to rush through an expensive one. But the language could get in the way of the message. Nowadays, paying only a dollar for a whole meal would be an unbelievably good deal (as long as it’s tasty). I don’t even think ordering only the least expensive offerings on the value menu at (inserted favorite fast-food restaurant here) would enable you to get an entire meal for that cheap. Then again, if you had water as your drink and sacrificed a side item … hmm …

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