I read it in the guidebook – I promise

Go to any book store and there is a whole dedicated area relating to travel.  Guide books galore on a whole host of topics and destinations crowd the shelves making the choice bewildering.  With rapidly changing cities and transit systems some guide books will be outdated even before printing but some travel advice never changes – even throughout the ages.

Medieval historian Elizabeth Archibald offers up some amusing bits of handy travel advice relevant to the 14th Century gleaned from early guide books.  Such tips include the following gems –

“It is also required of the pilgrim to patiently and discreetly put up with the stupidities and imperfections of his fellow pilgrims and companions.”
(Us air travellers could take a pinch or two of this advice.)

As to shopping…. “niceties of Indian, Persian, and Turkish workmanship that they will show you and that you will want to buy, as much to hold on to the memory of the holy voyage, as to share it with your friends. And what you have bought will give you irritation and hardship to bring home.”
(Mmm – yes people – we have seen you on the flights home with overweight luggage and impossibly large carry on)

And what about seat selection – bearing in mind that the long distance form of transport was generally by ship … so the advice was to choose a seat on the top deck as the bottom one was “ryght smolderyng hote and stynkyng.”  

What would those medieval travellers think of today’s guide book gems of wisdom –

Back up all your documents and keep a spare USB …

Take lots of photos …

And keep a journal to record all your experiences

The  more things change the more they stay the same.

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