Saturday, July 10, 2010

History Changing Trips


How Travel Changed History: Polynesian Migration

Starting around 3500 years ago, people set out from Southeast Asia in groups, slowly discovering and populating a swath of islands that would stretch from Hawaii to Easter Island.

Short term results: A robust Polynesian culture with a language shared across thousands of miles of islands and atolls.

Long term results: The modern packaged American vacation, the Hawaiian shirt, surfing as a worldwide sport.

How Travel Changed History: Balkan Journey

Hearing that the Balkans are “wonderful this time of year,” Archduke Franz Ferdinand leaves behind the stuffy confines of his plush Venetian palace—no air conditioning —and heads south to see the sights. On June 28, 1914 his driver gets lost on the quaint, cobble-stoned streets of Sarajevo—this was before the GPS. A wrong turn leads them directly into the path of a local that, on hindsight, turned out to a little too overcome with emotion upon encountering royalty.

Short term results: World War I, Lost Generation, flappers

Long term results: World War II, the Cold War, the English rock group Franz Ferdinand

How Travel Changed History: Ultimate Road Trip

In 1950 a couple scruffy college dropouts said ‘sayonara’ to the conformity of post-war 1950s America (at least that’s what the souvenir coffee mug says), piled into an American car (remember those?) and drove cross-country from New York to San Francisco all the while jabbering about William Blake, jazz, and the powers of various psychedelics.

Short term results: A book, On the Road, a blueprint for the 1960’s culture to follow, and the early death of Jack Kerouac owing to cirrhosis of the liver.

Long term results: Williamsburg, Brooklyn (and various ‘hipster ghettos’ throughout the U.S.), $500 jeans, ironic facial hair, and enough bad road trip literature to fill every nook and cranny of the library at Reed College.


Truth.Travel. 2010. "How Travel Changed History". Truth.Travel. Posted: n/d. Available online:

No comments: