Travel: Why do we travel and how has it changed over the years

For our June meeting Stevenage NWR met in a bar in Old Stevenage. It was a lovely sunny evening and it was good to see some new faces join us this month. The topic this month was travel – why do we travel and how have our reasons for travelling changed over time?

It was agreed that the main reason we travel now is curiosity. We shared some favourite places we’d travelled to and places we’d never want to go back to!

What were the reasons people would have travelled in the past? For food, invasion, trade, pilgrimages?

We discussed how privileged we are now. We don’t have to travel to see places, we can learn and see so much through books and on the internet.

We heard all about the town twinning initiative, as one of us would be leaving to go on an exchange visit the following day. It had started after the war with the aim of improving relations between countries and continues to this day.

The industrial revolution brought more efficient travel and an improved infrastructure and the beginnings of package holidays:

In 1841 Thomas Cook organized a one-day rail excursion for workers and their families, from Leicester to Loughborough, a mere 11 miles away.

Cook, a former Baptist preacher, believed that most Victorian social problems were related to alcohol and that the lives of working people would be greatly improved if they drank less and became better educated. His excursion was to offer an alternative pastime to drinking. He chose Loughborough because there was a temperance meeting taking place there on that day.

The ticket, which cost one shilling per person, paid for the rail travel there and back as well as a ham sandwich and a cup of tea.