What Was Vacation Travel Like 100 Years Ago?

Can you imagine what travel was like 90 years ago? I did some research into travel the year that this agency was founded in 1924 for our 90th Anniversary in 2014. This was a great time. The stock market was rising, flappers were dancing, and the Charlston was the dance craze. Henry Ford’s Model A car was changing the landscape of America, and America was getting used to listening to this new fangled contraption called the radio. Newspapers were the main purveyors of the hard news, and the travel agencies and transportation companies of that time would advertise their travel opportunities in the travel section. The Minneapolis Journal (forerunner of the Minneapolis Tribune) ran the travel ads on Thursday and Sunday. The Nickel Rate Road Railroad Company whose ad is pictured above, shows but one example of travel back in the 20’s. Travel to New York City would take a minimum of two days. You would sleep and eat on the train. Traveling either east or west from Minneapolis required taking the train to Chicago, and then transferring to a route east to New York City, or west to Los Angeles or San Francisco. It is still the same routing by train today.

Traveling further, to Europe, required use of a steamship. A traveler would take the train to New York, then board a steamship for a 6-7 day journey to Western Europe, then back on a train to visit countries. Finally, upon return a reverse of that procedure. Getting to and from Europe in those days would take about 2+ weeks travel, one week plus for each direction. With that much time required, mostly retirees and those of independent wealth could make the trip, and they would likely stay for 3-4 weeks, and often for much more.

Pictured above are some of the 1924 ads for travel that you might find interesting. All of these ads were from the Minneapolis Journal, the morning newspaper of Minneapolis at that time. Ads were in the travel section of the paper at that time.

My first train trip, taken more than 60 years ago, was from Minneapolis to Hartford, Connecticut. I was taken by my mother, on the way to visit her ill sister. We took James Hill’s Empire Builder to Chicago, and changed to a train to New York, and finally a regional to Connecticut. Most of the longer trips I took with my family in the 1950’s were train trips, and I remember them fondly. Sadly, the decline in the railroads began in the 1950’s and train travel for passengers became ever more dismal back then.

Getting there; Believe it or not, you can start your train journey right here in the Twin Cities and if you have the time, travel all over North America. Or you can fly to your train anywhere on the globe. Today, train travel is thriving in some areas of the country and in many places in the world. Here are just a few suggestions. Try the Canadian Rockies Train for incredible scenery, The Venice Simplon Orient Express or The Blue Train in South Africa for ultra luxury, and the high speed trains like Japan’s Shinkansen bullet and France’s TGV. Call us for train travel ideas or any other travel you might wish to do. 612-332-1100.