Currently, most of the world is inclined to vacation on days off, whether it be to another country or even the town next door. We have created a life that is almost always routine, hence the need to “break free”. We jump at the chance to experience the unknown, to experience something that doesn’t remind of us of everyday life.
Although it would be difficult to imagine our society in any other way, not too long ago people were dwelling leaving their home even for a day or two. In the Mid-16th Century, there was something called “a guild”. A guild was a system introduced to provide and instill consistent quality goods and workmanship and maintain traditions. In this guild, was someone called a “journeyman”. A journeyman is of similar meaning to an apprentice, but unlike an apprentice who stayed and learned specific skills for a certain amount of time, a journeyman was “someone who performed work for a day and then moved on, as it were”(Philosophical Society). They were not bonded to a single master and chose the work they wished to do. Only until they proved worthy in their trade were they allowed home. Another example of a sort-of “forceful” travel was during the Roman Empire when soldiers and officers alike were moved around Europe and stationed far from home. They were allowed home only when their services were not immediately required. People were not inclined to leave home because it was normal to build your identity solely in your hometown. Unlike today when most of us travel specifically to find ourselves, back then it was a more “I’m not completely me unless I’m home” type of thing. Personal identity did not have a place and being away from home was often frowned upon and alien, thus voluntary travel was very uncommon.
Additionally, there is evidence of voluntary travel sparking up in Europe during the instillation of Christian beliefs as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Pilgrimages became popular and developed into an industry. The cities of Geneva and Venice provided the means for pilgrims to embark on journeys not priorly available. During this time there was also a lot of talk that a “paradise” was somewhere in or around India, hence the newfound curiosity in a lot of missionaries. In 1853, an Englishman disguised as an Arab “marks the culmination of a pilgrimage to Mecca” with intent to “map unknown terrain in the interests of imperialist science, and the private exploration of Oriental sexuality.”(Voyages and Visions). This man, Richard Burton, was aware that he was breaking not only geographical barriers, but cultural ones as well. His pilgrimage was one of the most notable voyages that lead to the romanticization of new lands.
The Romantic Age was also a very important and crucial point in time that really through off the concerns of traveling for a bit. Empire Building was at an all time high and England was at the top of the list, colonizing anything they could get their hands on, searching for the perfect place, soon enough leading them to America.
I want to bring up the history of travel in America because we all know the story of religious persecution etc etc. but I don’t think I’ve ever fully learned how we expanded from east to west. To start, America was founded by pilgrims or (now) immigrants expecting to build a new type of life or living situation. Traveling was still relatively taboo at this point but this new land motivated people to keep searching for the perfect home. Everything beyond St. Louis was alien and dangerous, but all in all, the west was a free for all and soon the development of Route 66 came to be. Route 66 is a highway that starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles (National 66). This highway connected the both end of the country and conventionally connected opportunity seekers with the chance to explore the west in their adventure to find the best place to settle down.
It really worked out because as industrialization started, working conditions changed and people went from living country side to larger cities. Overtime, the middle class was created and soon enough the cities filthy. The “hardworking” middle class did not want to spend their only days off in a dirty city so they packed up and headed for the country side once again. For many, the country translated into “an old way of life, when everything was better”(UNIVIE). Thus the creation and instillment of searching for something better away from home.
Although the western perspective has become most relevant for Americans like me, many underdeveloped countries have had negative experience with travel. Many populations have been forced and confined to certain regions for the past few centuries. For example, when someone thinks of travel, your first thought wouldn’t necessarily be the detainment and enslavement of black people, moving them from Africa to North America. It also probably wouldn’t be relocation of indigenous tribes after the invasion of various imperialist armies. Many events such as these have created a dislocation in many countries. Whether it be economical, cultural, religious, etc., these events developed disruptions that, to this day, are seen throughout endless countries. Failed economies in countries, lead to food deserts, immigrants. Religious persecution that leads to wars and most commonly death, immigrants. Constantly, travel needs to be reiterated as something that is not always luxurious. It can be dangerous. It can be faulty, and often times, forced. I hope that the future is able to provide enough opportunities to expand on travel and it’s cause and effects, so that we can understand and deflect the situations for the better.