Travel is in a weird place. What better time to look back to see how we got here—and where we might go?
Each episode, travel industry veterans Brian and Kaleena discuss the big and small moments in travel history that led us to where we are today. Some moments completely rewrote the rules—like the invention of jumbo jets. But we’ll also discuss moments that reflect ongoing trends in travel, like how Disney changed Orlando.
In our discussions, we’ll explore how these examples might inform our current state of travel, and the challenges ahead. We’ll talk about everything—domestic politics, electronic music, international relations, new inventions, natural disasters, religious pilgrimages, race, all of it. It’s been a long road.
Travel (as we know it) could soon change in a huge way—and it probably should. Our goal is to create a dialogue about the future of travel, and what better way to do that than to look first to the past?
Sputnik Orbits Earth
On today’s episode, we discuss the successful launch and orbit of Sputnik, the USSR’s unmanned satellite experiment, in October of 1957. The feat achieved a first in human-powered space flight and sparked the technological and ideological competition between the U.S. and the Soviets known as the “Space Race.” The fact that the Soviets beat the Americans into orbit had huge consequences on the psyche of the U.S. for decades to come, and the competitive nature of space exploration continues to this day. Is outer space the next commercial travel frontier?
Fidel Castro goes to Harlem
On today's episode we explore a moment of travel history from our own backyard—New York City. We get into the story of when Fidel Castro visited Harlem in September 1961. This was not only a big moment in travel history—few foreign leaders, if any, had paid a visit to Harlem before Casto—but it also tells us a lot about racial politics during the Cold War.
In this episode we jump back about 17 years into history—to 2004, when the Colombian city of Medellin unveiled a new mass transit system called the MetroCable. The network of gondolas improved accessibility to once remote hillside neighborhoods, transforming the way the city’s residents mix and helping to garner international attention for the city’s innovative strategies for urban social improvement. The gondolas also became a tourist draw in their own right.
Frederick Douglass Goes to Ireland
In this episode, we travel to the 1840s—specifically, to when Frederick Douglass decided to leave the United States for a bit and travel to Ireland and England. “Decided” is not exactly the right word. Douglass had recently published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave in 1845. Although Douglass had escaped slavery, he was still in danger of being tracked down by the man who claimed to “own” him—and the release of his book doubled the threat.
As a result, Douglass traveled across the Atlantic. His trip to Ireland would prove to be an inflection point in his career, his thinking about race and class, and a key to his financial freedom.
Nixon Goes to China
In our final episode of the season, we discuss a trip of great historical consequence: the weeklong tour of China that President Richard Nixon took in 1972. It was the first time that a sitting U.S. president had ever visited mainland China and followed over 25 years without any official diplomatic contact between the two countries. The trip initiated a new chapter in the political and economic relationship between them—it shifted Cold War power dynamics, improved the American public’s perception of China and the Chinese people, and led to the coining of a new phrase in our political lexicon: the “Nixon goes to China” moment.
Tourism and the "Spanish Miracle"
In this episode, we go to Spain—to a moment called the “Spanish Miracle”. This decade of incredible economic growth in Spain came after years of stagnation and war. It was fueled—in part—by the opening up of the country and the impact of tourism. We discuss the Spanish Miracle itself, what led to it, and how tourism in Spain has had a lasting effect on Spanish culture, society, and economics.
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Fun podcast for grounded travelers!
Fascinating look at the intersection of travel and history. Topics range from airline deregulation to travels of the Beatles. Well researched, entertaining, incorporating thoughts on more sustainable travel. As a bonus the hosts include up to date info on the current Covid era travel situation. Check it out.