Ladies on the loose

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - TR­ISHA WIL­SON

BORN in Brook­lyn, New York, in 1854, Lil­lias Camp­bell David­son, driv­ing force be­hind Bri­tain’s Lady Cy­clists’ As­so­ci­a­tion, also wrote nu­mer­ous fic­tion and non­fic­tion books in­clud­ing the 19th-cen­tury equiv­a­lent of a self­help guide ti­tled Hints to Lady Trav­ellers: At Home and Abroad.

Aimed to be ‘‘use­ful to women of all means and con­di­tions’’, it was pub­lished by Iliffe & Son in 1889 at a time when daytrip­pers took trains, Thomas Cook pi­o­neered the pack­age deal and Karl Baedeker the travel guide.

Im­proved safety in ‘‘ex­otic lands’’ and a de­sire ‘‘to travel for travel’s sake’’ re­sulted in more women trav­el­ling the roads less taken and writ­ing en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about their ex­pe­ri­ences.

While Baedeker’s Hand­book for Trav­ellers pro­vided in­sights to a coun­try or city, Camp­bell David­son wrote from her ex­pe­ri­ences and ob­ser­va­tions as a lady trav­eller, cov­er­ing sub­jects as di­verse as ladies car­riages and seabathing and of­fer­ing ad­vice of the ilk of ‘‘be­ware the rail­way sta­tion ham sand­wich’’. Chap­ter head­ings in­cluded Foot warm­ers and Teapots.

A dozen decades later some topics may seem ter­ri­bly old-fash­ioned but many con­tinue to ring true. Take pack­ing, for ex­am­ple, and her amaze­ment that ‘‘there are some peo­ple so cu­ri­ously con­sti­tuted as ac­tu­ally to en­joy this ghastly prepa­ra­tion for the jour­ney’’, and to the dis­cov­ery ‘‘at the very last avail­able sec­ond that all one’s most cher­ished pos­ses­sions have been left out of the trunks, which have been care­fully locked and strapped, and are ready for in­stant de­par­ture’’.

Hand lug­gage, of­ten a dilemma in the size and weight depart­ment, is de­scribed by Camp­bell David­son as ‘‘all those smaller ar­ti­cles of the bag class which ac­com­pany the lady trav­eller, and con­tain all her tri­fling need­fuls for the way’’. Lon­don lux­ury em­po­rium Asprey and Sons of­fered a clas­sic op­tion for a ten­ner. ‘‘Spe­cially fit­ted up for ladies with writ­ing and work ma­te­ri­als’’, the car­rier also in­cluded per­sonal es­sen­tials such as sil­ver­topped scent bot­tles and ivory glove stretch­ers. Less likely to be part of to­day’s trav­el­ling en­tourage would be a lady’s maid.

Those who have trav­elled with a re­luc­tant part­ner and re­cal­ci­trant teenagers, how­ever, would no doubt re­late to Camp­bell David­son’s de­scrip­tion of chaps as ‘‘weak and im­po­tent things in trav­el­ling . . . they are gen­er­ally . . . worse than use­less in an emer­gency’’.

Fast for­ward from a seem­ingly less dead­line-driven era to a 21st-cen­tury air­port at, say, 6am. One can only imag­ine what the re­sponse would be to as­sorted trunks and bear­ers ar­riv­ing at the au­to­mated check-in kiosk. How would se­cu­rity of­fi­cers view hand lug­gage stuffed with as­sorted liq­uids, prod­ucts made from en­dan­gered species, and sharp ob­jects?

In the fi­nal para­graph of Hints to Lady Trav­ellers Camp­bell David­son wrote: ‘‘If, by my en­deav­ours, I have in any way as­sisted my sis­ters in their wan­der­ings, or en­cour­aged a sin­gle woman to join the path of trav­ellers by land or sea, I shall feel that I have achieved the ob­ject of my labours.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.