If holiday travel seems like a nightmare today, it was much worse in 1914. People didn’t travel from place to place in hours, but rather in days. These days, we hop on a plane and before the day is over, we are visiting with family on the other side of the country. When I think of that era, of course, the Titanic comes to mind. People had to pack enough clothes for a year or so, because they couldn’t just go somewhere and stay for a week and then head home again. People had to travel with a purpose.
The same applied to travel on land. During the era of the wagon train, when someone went west, it was to move. All too often people might never see their families again. Of course, with the invention of cars, travel became less time consuming, and people could go to visit family a lot more often. Having family members move away, didn’t mean that they were gone forever and you would never see them again. Trips could easily be made for holidays, new babies, or just to visit.
The railroad modernized travel because unlike the wagon train, the trains could go much faster. Even with cars, the train could get you there faster, because while you could only drive your car so far, the train kept moving throughout the night, often reaching your destination by morning. A trip that once took forty days, could now be taken in just five days. Even wars could be accomplished in a more timely manner…if that could be considered a good thing. When Britain sent out its troops when it declared war and invaded Germany, soldiers would have had to travel up to five days to reach Germany once the declaration of war was announced. Troops from New Zealand and Australia also traveled for several days in order to invade and occupy Samoa and German New Guinea, respectively. If a travelers from the United Kingdom wanted to make a trip to Australia, a former British colony in 1914, the journey would have taken at least a month and or more than 40 days. With trains, planes, and trucks, armies to get to the front much quicker. While this type of improvement is good, I’m not sure it was the type of travel that the inventors intended. Nevertheless, travel has greatly improved over the past 100 years or so, and I wouldn’t ever want to go back to the old ways.