Vacations are the occasions when we break free from our daily routine and give ourselves the freedom to travel and form some of our best life stories. Where did the evolution of vacations begin? Like any good story, we need to go back to the start.
The Romans were the first civilization to indulge in what we would now consider traveling for pleasure. But, rather than the one to two weeks we manage to plan for every year, wealthy Romans would get away for a staggering two years! Historians say that Romans were the first nation to travel because foreign vacations required a period of peace and prosperity. With the ever-expanding borders of the empire, it allowed citizens the freedom to travel without ever technically leaving Rome’s jurisdiction. This freedom led to the establishment of inns, restaurants and tour guides, everything a traveler would need to enjoy their trips.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the south of Italy acted as a bridge between two of the key pillars of Christian Europe; Rome & Jerusalem. There was a whole network of inns, traders and monasteries, which provided all the support a pilgrim could ever ask for. Travelers could now cover most of Europe on their pilgrimage, as illustrated by Matthew Paris’s 13th century masterpiece; ‘Map of The Itinerary from London to Jerusalem’.
If the life of a pilgrim wasn't particularly for you, you best bet to travel was to become part of a merchant’s convoy. Marco Polo, the man who journeyed upon a 24-year long trip, noting remarkable stories of different countries, including China, who at the time was using paper to denote currency! What is most apparent from Marco Polo’s travels is just how long they all took and how wealthy you ultimately needed to be. Without access to anything more sophisticated than a horse or a boat, foreign travel was a lengthy journey.
During the Tudor period, leisure travel was reserved for royalty and the court. Vacations taken by monarchs were called “royal progress” and were usually taken twice a year. Accompanied by a huge amount of luggage carrying dinnerware, tapestries, bedding and even beds, these vacations we certainly an ordeal with Kings traveling with over 1,000 members of his court.
During the early Renaissance period, travel was mainly used for trade and battle. This era saw a rise in the popularity of exploring. With advances made in ship building, more men were encouraged to take to the sea and explore unknown destinations! The thirst for adventure was high risk, but brought great rewards.
In the 18th century the Roman tradition of taking a Grand Tour of Europe was revived, with artists and aristocrats writing novels as they toured across different countries. Despite the era being more advanced, travel was still somewhat difficult. Luckily for society, the industrial revolution introduced the steam train, which enabled common people to pack up a suitcase and travel to new locations. The first American steam train made its first journey in Baltimore in 1830, and within a few years it became the most popular form of transportation.
By 1915 a growing number of Americans were now able to afford short vacations and many flocked to the beaches of California and Florida! Steamboats soon opened up sea travel to the masses and although taking a lifetime to reach their destination, it was the beginning to new means of travel across the world. In 1903, the concept of the aeroplane (airplane) was born and it would soon pave the way for a breakthrough that would change the way the world experienced travel, forever. The automobiles were also now affordable and became the favorite mode of transport for vacationers traveling to specific destinations. On weekends and public holidays, families would load up their cars and drive to the coats to enjoy the sands and the ocean! As technology and mass production enabled more growth and advances in the transportation industry, wealthy New Yorkers would still adopt the old Tudor habit of vacating the city for summer and winter months. These excursions are where our use of the word vacation comes from as people would literally vacate the city for the summer, enjoying places such as the Hamptons, where we find our celebrities vacationing present day.
In the early 1900s, Atlantic City, New Jersey was promoted as a health retreat for the very wealthy with visitors rising from 3 million in 1910, to 16 million in 1939. Those who wished to discover beyond the United States decided to take advantage of package vacations touring the Mediterranean. By the 1930s paid vacation plans were being offered by employers and Henry Ford was one of the first companies to do so. By 1950, two weeks’ vacation was available to more than half the population and states began to promote themselves as tourist destinations.
Our thirst for discovery and unique experiences shows no signs of being quenched as new generations get the travel bug. Why do vacations capture our imagination? Why do we love to create these new experiences? Well, they say it’s in our nature and a vacation is a journey of discovering new lands and asking ourselves what’s next. With an ever-growing need to plan new vacations and discover new countries, the travel industry present day is booming. At Lexicon Travel Technologies we ensure that the guests are connected to these very destinations worldwide, offering easy access to planning an incredible journey and experience.
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