When we go on a trip these days, we take so much for granted and most of us probably never give any thought to the travel pioneers who paved the way, making it possible for us to reach all corners of the globe. Travel pioneers gave us ways to travel, made travel easier and opened up the world so that pretty much anywhere is accessible. Here are 7 pioneers of travel I am grateful to:
1. Thomas Cook
You may not have heard of Thomas Cook but he is a household name in the UK as the company founded by him is one of our leading travel companies. Everyone has reason to be grateful to Thomas Cook as one of the most important travel pioneers as he essentially invented the package holiday. Back in 1841, he started organizing tour groups to Methodist events with just train travel initially. He expanded this into sorting out hotels and other arrangements and the package holiday was born.
2. Orville and Wilbur Wright
Undoubtedly, someone was going to find a way for man to fly, and we are indebted to the Wright Brothers who conquered the skies with the first airplane. Back in 1903, the two American inventors made the first powered human flight and over the next couple of years designed the first real working airplane. It didn’t take long for airplanes to become the fastest and easiest way to travel from country to country. The Wright brothers are very serious pioneers of travel we should be grateful to.
3. Karl Baedeker
Another name you may not be familiar with, but we have Karl Baedeker to thank for the modern version of the travel guide book. This German publisher (1801-1859) wasn’t the first to compile a travel guide, but he set the standard for every one to follow. He is accredited with bringing the travel guide to the masses.
4. Marco Polo
There have been many great explorers but not so many of them could be termed travel pioneers. Exploring in the real sense of the world when parts of the globe were unmapped an unknown was very different to traveling. Intrepid people went exploring and people traveled for commerce or necessity, but it was Marco Polo who probably highlighted the joy of travel. Yes he was an explorer, but his interest ran much deeper than simply finding a new spot to go on the map. He chronicled the places, the people and the culture of where he visited.
5. Jacques Cousteau
If the Wright Brothers gave us the way to command the skies, we have to give credit to Frenchman Jacques-Yves Cousteau for providing us the means to discover the marine world. This amazing naval officer who died in 1977 had his finger in many travel pies: he was an explorer, film maker, photographer, author, researcher, and scientist. He pioneered marine conservation, but he became one of the notable pioneers of travel when he co-invented the aqua lung which gave birth to the popular vacation activity of scuba diving.
6. The Montgolfier Brothers
One of the best ways to see some of the most glorious sites of our world is from a hot air balloon. If you have experienced or dream of cruising on the wind to watch the migration across the Serengeti, to see the pagodas of Angkor Wat or the amazing rock formations of Monument Valley, it is flight and travel pioneers the Montgolfier Brothers you have to thank. Frenchmen Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne invented the hot air balloon with the first flight with humans aboard taking place in 1783. At the time, they claimed they invented flight – true – given that the Wright Brothers’ invention didn’t take to the skies for another 120 years.
7. George Pullman
Pullman is one of those names that has entered the language where a brand name has become the word for of its type. No matter where you are in the world, mention a Pullman car and everyone knows you are talking about a train’s sleeping car. George Mortimer Pullman designed his sleeping car after the Erie Canal packet boats he had sailed on in his youth, with the first one being produced in 1864. As well as the sleeping car, Pullman also designed the vestibule train – i.e. one where all carriages are connected thereby making one interconnected tube.
As a passionate traveler, these travel pioneers are among my list of heroes. Who’s on your list?