Travelling has changed quite a bit over the course of human history. I was always fascinated as a child by stories of people who were able to go everywhere, despite the limited technology of their time. From the travels of the Greeks to Phileas Fog taking every mode of transport known to a 19th century Englishman, I had hoped to see some of those places myself.
So far I think I’ve done a pretty good job.
And that’s when I came across this amazing drawing. This piece shows “every item the pioneering journalist Nellie Bly packed in her small leather suitcase to travel around the world in 75 days – in 1889.”
The drawing was created by Wendy MacNaughton originally for Brain Pickings article, “How to Pack Like Nellie Bly, Pioneering Journalist” by Maria Popova. It’s a fantastic read, telling Nellie’s story and that of her competitor Elizabeth Bisland, who was sent on a similar journey by none other than Cosmopolitan Magazine. Obviously in those days it was quite high-brow, not the Cosmo we love today.
Personally, I think Nellie’s travel outfit is fantastic. When I went to New Zealand for 5 months, I had a full 2.5′ backpack with a myriad of pockets and attachment points as well as a metal frame to save my poor back. She had just that little brown gripsack.
And if you look at her travel list? She basically had the clothes on her back, an extra tennis blazer, and extra underwear. I brought half of my Ralph Lauren collection. And I even had to phone home for Adam to bring me an extra pair of chino’s when he came to visit. All that Cadbury’s chocolate…
So, if you had just a handbag, what would you bring on your travels?