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Tips for Travelers

Cover of Baedeker's Lower Egypt (Leipzig, 1895)Travel guides began to appear in the eighteenth century with the rise in popularity of the Grand Tour. Wealthy young men traveled the continent, seeking to experience culture and the arts and enjoying European society. While the outbreak of the French Revolution curtailed the practice, peacetime brought tourists back to Europe.
Travels in nineteenth century Europe were facilitated by the advent of stage coaches. They allowed those who could not afford to hire private transportation to travel more economically. Additionally, the adventurous and self-sufficient could travel independently, departing from established routes. These travelers were served by guidebooks. In addition to listing of routes and overview of culture and history, these books offered practical advice on everything from where to stay, what to wear, and who to tip.
Title page from Letters from Italy (London, 1800)Special Collections has several guidebooks from this period. Mariana Starke’s Letters from Italy (London, 1800) reassured travelers that travel was safe and that the cities of Italy had not been robbed of their artwork. Starke gave her readers practical information about specific sites. Karl Baedeker published his first guidebook in 1839, basing the content on his personal travel experiences and including detailed maps. These guides became extremely popular. The firm is still producing guidebooks today. While not technically a guidebook, Bachelder’s Popular Resorts and How to Reach Them (Boston, 1875), gave travelers to the United States guidance on how to reach newly establish National Parks in the west.
Detail of the map of Stockholm from Baedeker's Norway and Sweden (Leipzig, 1879)

Advice from our guidebooks:

    Avoid local fauna:
    “The sting of a scorpion (seldom dangerous) or bite of a snake is usually treated with ammonia.”
    Baedeker’s Lower Egypt(Leipzig, 1895)
    How to pack:
    “A soft or compressible portmanteau is not recommended, as the “Skydsgut”, who is sometimes a ponderous adult, always sits on the luggage strapped on [the pack horse]. A supply of stout cord and several straps will be found useful, and a strong umbrella is indispensable.”
    Baedeker’s Norway and Sweden (Leipzig, 1879)
    Illustrations of Yellowstone National Park from Popular Resorts and How to Reach Them (Boston, 1875)
    Visiting a National Park:
    “If the National Park of the Yellowstone be the objective point, the tourist will continue on the Union Pacific Railroad to Corinne, Utah, at present the nearest approach by rail. From Corinne, the trip is completed partly by stage and by saddle, but should only be undertaken by person of strong physical endurance, after special preparation.”
    Popular Resorts and How to Reach Them (Boston, 1875)

    An early rating system:
    “The Cappella Sistina contains some of the finest frescos in the world, namely, The last Judgement, by Buonarroti, immediately behind the alter, and on the ceiling, God dividing the light from the darkness, together with the Prophets and Sibyls, stupendous works by the same great Master !!!!!”
    Letters from Italy (London, 1800)
    Description of artwork from Letters from Italy (London, 1800) with many exclamation marks.Starke’s use of multiple exclamation points following her descriptions functioned as a kind of rating system. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescos earns the highest praise, a rare five exclamation marks.
    Take a sweater:
    “Villa Borghese (This beautiful and magnificent Villa is so cold, and so much is to be seen in the grounds, that it should be visited in warm dry weather only).”
    Letters from Italy (London, 1800)
    Local insects:
    “The gnats which swarm in some of the inland districts, especially in the Swedish Norrland, including Lapland, are a great source of annoyance and suffering, but the plague generally abates after the middle of August.”
    Baedeker’s Norway and Sweden (Leipzig, 1879)
    Where to stay in Vienna:
    “The inns of this City are bad and dear; Wolf’s is deemed the best, and the white Bull once was tolerable; but the present Master is so notorious a Cheat…; besides which, his dinners are so bad that it is scarcely possible to eat them. Indeed, the only way of living comfortable at Vienna is to take a private lodging.”
    Letters from Italy (London, 1800)
    Detail from a map of Alexandria in Baedeker's Lower Egypt (Leipzig, 1895)Advice for cigar aficionados in Egypt:
    “Cigar-smokers will find it very difficult to become accustomed to the Oriental tobacco, but they will find tolerable cigar-shops at Alexandria and Cairo… As a general rule smokers are recommended to carry with them, both in going to and returning from Egypt, as little tobacco as possible,… as a rigorous search is often made and a heavy duty exacted, both at the Egyptian, and at the French, Austrian and Italian Frontiers.”
    Baedeker’s Lower Egypt (Leipzig, 1895)
An explanation of hieroglyphics from Baedeker's Lower Egypt (Leipzig, 1895)Special Collections has several of Baedeker’s Guides in our collection. Search for Karl Baedker (firm) in the Merlin catalog. Limit your search to Special Collections.
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