Book Review: Hints to Lady Travellers

by Jackie Sanders on March 8, 2012

If you’re like me, planning a trip has many stages of giddiness. FIrst, the should I or shouldn’t I? It’s expensive, it’s far, I don’t really have the time… but man, I really love a good adventure. I’m going to do it! Next comes the decision of where to go. The world is my oyster; sometimes I pick a random spot, and other times I choose a location I’ve dreamed of for years. Preparation (ie shopping!) and packing get me in the mood for travel, and before I know it, I’m on an airplane bound for someplace magical.
Well, my next magical place to visit is Las Olas in April, and I’m already mentally packing my suitcase. I have to admit, I’ve taken for granted the ease in which I’m able to get from point A to B, as a woman, as well as a solo traveler. So I was intrigued to pick up a copy of Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad. Ease wouldn’t be a word I would use to describe travel in the 1800′s.  First published in 1889, it was the first travel guide written for independent Victorian women, by Lillias Campbell Davison. It has recently been reprinted, using archive material from the original, and featuring other women travelers such as Kate Marsden and Lady Florence Caroline Dixie.
I read this very entertaining guide of travel tips in one sitting, and was amazed that the advice from over 100 years ago could translate to a modern woman of today. While we no longer have to haul a bathtub from home, and we now dare to look a man in the eye on a train, there are actually many great tips and observations for women traveling that I apply to my own experiences.
Packing the right clothes, tipping, being observant, ordering in restaurants; these are all still applicable now. Of course, I don’t get to bring a Victorian lady’s maid to dress me when I go to Mexico, but hey, a girl can dream!
Imagine arriving at your destination, so far from home:
“From the first moment when the traveller sets foot upon foreign soil, and sees the strange surroundings, enhanced by the clear air and brilliant sunshine, so different from the softened atmosphere at home, she experiences all the effect of having entered into a new life. The sounds are equally novel – the foreign tongue, the eager excited voices, the constant clangour of the bells, the street cries, and the calls of the workpeople.”
That paragraph describes exactly how I feel whenever I arrive someplace new. I’ve traveled the world, and it’s always a thrill to step onto foreign soil. Sharing that understanding with women from old and modern times brings a commonality that I find very inspiring.
I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem. Entertaining, sensible, and insightful, it’s a sweet read. Even though we now pack bikinis and flip flops instead of petticoats and lace-up boots, this practical advice for women traveling alone stands the test of time. Pick up a copy and start planning your next adventure—hopefully, surfing with Las Olas!
‘If, by my endeavours, I have in any way assisted my sisters in their wanderings, or encouraged a single woman to join the path of travellers by land or sea, I shall feel that I have achieved the object of my labours, and that my task has, indeed, not been in vain.’ Lillias Campbell Davison.

Jackie Sanders is the Las Olas Surf Safaris Director of Guest Services.  Along with her husband, a 25 year employee of American Airlines, Jackie has traveled all over the world and collected many tips along the way. When she’s not wandering the globe, Jackie pretends she’s on vacation at home in idyllic Carmel, California with family.

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