Happy 90th Birthday South America Handbook

by on 16th August, 2013

South America Handbook’s birthday

This year the South America Handbook celebrates its 90th birthday, and here we look back at some of the travel advice handed out by the book through the decades.
Somethings will never change

In some ways, things are reassuringly similar now as they were then. Thomas Cook was operating guided tours in South America in the 1920s, as they do today (and now with Andean Trails!), and Copacabana beach was touted as a popular bathing resort.

Female travellers were advised to expect to see South American ladies dressed elegantly, and therefore were “well advised” to do likewise with “becoming clothing,”.

The South America Handbook’s first edition included such sage wisdoms as; take a good supply of linen as the primitive methods of washing in remote areas would possibly ruin your clothing and to pack a dinner jacket.

There were no 12-hour flights with inflight entertainment. People travelled to the great continent by steamboat with journeys taking several days.


Dinner Toast

World events saw the first talking film released whereas today most travellers can record and playback their own audio/visual films the moment they’ve finished recording it.

The guide stated that for certain journeys you would need mules, donkeys and horses, and that is certainly true with many of our excellent treks.

If you fancied a snack while trekking to the very recently discovered Machu Picchu, it’s possible you would have taken some ‘Dinner Toast’ rather than energy bars.


Rolling on through the decades

As the decades rolled by, the advice started to change; in the 1930s a bathrobe was advised as the bathrooms could be some distance from your bedroom.

Into wartime ‘40s praise was heaped on the excellent road networks in South America, and the 1950s saw travellers advised to avoid pork – and perhaps with some World War II hangover – carrying weapons.

The swinging ‘60s advice reflected the social shifts perhaps, with those at altitude advised to go steady on the alcohol.

In the ‘70s handbook, readers were advised that some authorities took a dim view of the hippy look. Those in possession of the full flowing hippy hair look were advised to carry a letter ‘testifying to their good character’ from someone in an official position to avoid problems.

This ‘prejudice’ had disappeared by the ‘80s although no cheap flights were easy to source yet, the Handbook advised, and only beer, coke, minerals and coffee were recommended as drinks.

You can see more about how the advice changed through the decades at the South American Handbook’s blog.

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