pan-am-board-game

How Pan Am inspired me to travel.

What first inspired you to travel? Was it exotic far-off lands you read about in a book or saw in a film? Or was it from watching Gilligan’s Island?  For me it was a board game. The Game was called Pan American World Jet Flight Game, which had the tagline ‘Pilot a Jet Clipper to all the continents of the world.’

pan-am-board-game

Released for the Australian market by Pan Am in the mid-sixties, the front of the box had a pic of a Pan-Am jet flying across Sydney Harbour (with the Sydney Opera House conspicuously absent – it was yet to be built). The game consisted simply of a map of the world with selected major destinations connected by plane (presumably Pan-Am) routes. Players were dealt ten destination cards each at the start of the game and all destinations had to be visited before returning to the start (Sydney). The first player home was the winner.

pan-am-board-game

I loved the exotic place names like Teheran, Caracas, Accra and Reykjavik. Each destination card had stats about population, currency and languages spoken, and even though I knew nothing about many of the cities (or countries) I wanted to fly there in a Pan Am jet to see what they were like. We would play the game for hours and I was quite the geography expert at ten years old. How many other ten year olds knew that Caracas is the capital of Venezuela and had a population of 12 million (it’s now 30 million – it was few years ago!). Sadly, I don’t have the game anymore (I found these pics on eBay, but I just missed out on the sale – it went for a whopping $9)

Knowing how much I loved geography, my parents gave me a book called ‘The World in Colour’ for Christmas. Coincidentally the book was published in the UK in 1966 (the same year as the Pan Am game), so not only were the photos dated, but so was quite a bit of the information about the countries. I read the book cover to cover and day dreamed about going to places like France, which was home to ‘The French, perhaps one of the most civilised and artistic of all races’ or to Hungary, which was full off ‘gay and lively Hungarians’. It also made me want to leave Melbourne because, according to the book, ‘Melbourne is considered by Sydney residents to be dull, quiet and uninteresting.’

the-world-in-colour-1966

I still have the book and it’s so outdated now that there are many countries that either don’t exist anymore or have changed their name. There are also some great photos (and captions)  in the book:

the-world-in-colour-1966

I bet you didn’t know that this was Australia’s most popular sport.

the-world-in-colour-1966

Oh dear!

the-world-in-colour-1966

And those poor Greeks were even in trouble back then – the country had no refrigerators!

So, what inspired you travel?

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4 replies
  1. Peter Eyers
    Peter Eyers says:

    Hi Brian,

    I had that game as a kid (and yes, I know it shows my age!). We loved it, too!

    For me it was movies that made me want to travel. The big one was The Italian Job (with michael caine). I wanted to drive a mini up and down steps in Rome! I did get there, but sadly I just walked around :-)

    Cheers
    Pete

    Reply
    • bthacker
      bthacker says:

      Hi Pete,

      There were no cool car chases, but I wanted to go to Austria because of the Sound of Music. I did get to dance in the gazebo, though (that doesn’t sound too cool, does it?).

      Cheers
      brian

      Reply
  2. Holly
    Holly says:

    Hi Brian
    I had the game too (actually it was my older brother’s but who cares). I remember playing it over and over again. Like you, I have gained a love of travel and thirst for knowledge about the world from playing it. I also had a great Australian jigsaw puzzle (mine this time) that had pictures of all the great things around the country and obround shaped place names that you had to insert in the correct place for the pattern to match up. The jigsaw gave me the same feelings about travelling around Australia. It is a shame that there aren’t more games like this now. The closest computer game I have found is Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? but it isn’t quite the same.
    I must disappoint you now by telling you that the location visited in Iceland in the Pan am game was actually Keflavik and not Reykjavik. I remember this because it was my very favourite destination and I was always really excited when I got the Keflavik card. :))))
    Thanks for the interesting blog.

    Reply
    • bthacker
      bthacker says:

      Hi Holly,

      I agree – I even tried hunting down an old one on ebay for my kids. And yes, I do remember now that it was Keflavik (which is actually where the airport is for Reykjavik!).

      One online game that I do love playing (and that I might be a little obsessed with) is Geoguesser (https://geoguessr.com). You have to try and figure out where these random Google map views are. It’s so much fun!
      Cheers and happy travels
      Brian

      Reply

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