Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Or, Why we love vintage aviation, railroad and car posters….

I’ve written before about the Golden Age of travel, when getting somewhere, anywhere, meant a trip full of promise, adventure and excitement. It’s hard to imagine these days, but going places used to require lots of planning, not an insignificant amount of cash, and an equivalent amount of time.

Air France Posters
Some of our favorite early Air France posters… We’re told that our copy of the poster on the left (one of the first for AF), is better than the copy in the Smithsonian…

Long before Steve Martin and John Candy highlighted the perils (perhaps every peril) of travel in the John Hughes movies called Planes, Trains and Autombiles (you can see the hilarious trailer here), transportation companies the world over used the concept of romance to sell voyages. It didn’t matter if you were taking the train to see grandmother, or a boat to travel around the world, it was the glamour of getting away that was most often featured on posters from Brussels to Boston.

Travel Posters
We adore this Massonet poster for the Belgian railroads: instead of highlighting larger cities, Massonet focuses instead on the great Belgian forests through which the train traverses. And the TWA poster? We love everything about it: the schooner in the background, the teeny tiny little mouse, the weather wane – it’s all perfectly, Boston!

In the mid-1950s, the American Export Lines decided to mix business and pleasure – kind of. Their brilliant idea was to take a ship, and use half for cargo and half for passengers. (A little of this, a little of that …). Not quite what the Go Gos had in mind when they put together their pop hit Vacation (check the hair!), but not at all a bad idea for a company who wanted to amortize the fact that they had a ship crossing the Atlantic anyway… a couple of stewards, bump up the food quality, and hey, it’s a passenger ship. More glamorous ocean travel was sure to be had on a Canadian Pacific ship, but then again, CP was always known for grandeur.

canadian-pacific-croisieres-partout_largeI’ve written before – and will no doubt write again – about the remarkable role that bicycles have played in the history not only of transportation, but also of women’s liberation. Before bikes, women were required to be accompanied – by men, naturally – wherever they went. In the early 1900’s that changed – slowly – with the two-wheeled contraptions permitting women to travel alone, both in the city and countryside. This evolution is celebrated in our pretty in pink Pirelli poster…

Italian Bike Posters
We love both of these Italian babies – the one on the left is from the 1950s, and the Pirelli masterpiece is from the 60’s.

CNN recently compiled their list of the greatest travel songs ever (you can see it here). But, being the old-fashioned girl that I am, I think my favorite traveling song is this one

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