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.’
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.
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.’
I still have the book and it’s so outdated now that there are many countries that either don’t exist anymore or have changed their name.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:
I bet you didn’t know that this was Australia’s most popular sport.
And those poor Greeks were even in trouble back then – the country had no refrigerators!
So, what inspired you travel?