22 March 2012

Book Trailer: How to Pack Like a 1960s Tourist

Many thanks to the excellent Alex Cleberg, producer, editor, script-tweaker, and all-around Awesome Guy Who Made This Video Happen. 

For the full story about the packing list, read the book! It comes out April 3rd from Perigee Books/Penguin. Pre-order: IndieBound » Amazon » Barnes & Noble » my favorite indie stores.

For some quick additional background, keep reading here ...

Arthur Frommer started modern tourism as we know it with Europe on Five Dollars a Day. Before his guidebook started the budget travel boom, opening the continent up to the masses, the general mentality was was that travel was something only rich people did. No one fit that aristocrat-on-the-road archetype more than Temple Fielding, the most prominent guidebook writer of the day until Frommer came along.

In my book, I discuss the many differences between the Fielding and Frommer approaches to travel, including how they pack. The trailer offers a retro-goofy peek into that comparison, highlighting the absurd, extravagant packing list that was once the standard ... until Europe on Five Dollars a Day changed everything.

The list of items comes from a 1968 profile of Fielding by John McPhee in The New Yorker: 
Fielding uses two suitcases, and in them he packs thirty-five handkerchiefs (all of hand- rolled Swiss linen and all bearing his signature, hand- embroidered), ten shirts, ten ties, ten pairs of undershorts, three pairs of silk pajamas, eight pairs of socks, evening clothes, three pairs of shoes, a lounging robe, a pair of sealskin slippers, and two toilet kits. . . . He wears one suit and carries two.
Also, to get around baggage fees— a headache even back then—Fielding carried a raffia basket (the airlines didn’t know how to classify it, so they essentially just ignored it; try that on your next trip). Its contents included “a bottle of maraschino cherries, a bottle of Angostura bitters, a portable Philips three-speed record- player, five records (four of mood music and ‘one Sinatra always’), a leather-covered RCA transistor radio, an old half- pint Heublein bottle full of vermouth, and a large nickel thermos with a wide mouth.” He also had a calfskin briefcase that he designed himself and whose copious compartments held another forty-one items, including bottles of brandy and Johnnie Walker, a yodeling alarm clock, plus more standard items like toothbrushes and notebooks.

If you’re keeping count, that’s two suitcases, one massive raffia basket, and a briefcase. What we have between Fielding and Frommer is a generation gap even more profound than the one that exists between Frommer and today’s Lonely Planet–toting backpackers.

I went to Twin Cities Luggage and asked owner Susan Oxman about getting a raffia basket. Or a steamer trunk. She said things have changed a bit and they don't sell those things anymore. Go figure. (That scene, alas, didn't make it into the final cut of the video ... but I think I need to figure out a way to post it anyway. It was an amusing conversation. And, seriously, that store is awesome--even without raffia baskets.)

For the full story, and the see how Frommer recommended packing--much less than Fielding, but still more than most modern travelers--you'll just have to read the book. (Check the Paris chapter.)


  1. Dear Mr. Mack,

    You are my FAVORITE.

    Kelly Barnhill

    1. Many thanks! I'm honored to have the Kelly Barnhill Seal of Approval. (Really, I mean that.)

  2. Replies
    1. It's really the tie that makes it work. Just need some ... what? Blue suede shoes? Faux armadillo skin cowboy boots? Saddle shoes?

  3. Always amazing, Mr. Mack! Fantastic video ... but you clearly need more hankies.

    See you in Boston soon!

  4. I think I've played your video over ten times already this morning. LOVE it!

  5. Cracked me up when Mack is seen counting the handkerchiefs and winds up having to pull out the Kleenex. I laughed out loud and had to play that part over and over again. Learned about your blog through Elizabeth Evans on Twitter. Will be looking for this book to buy!

  6. I will definitely keep these things in mind when we travel with our new RV. I just can’t wait for the weekend to come, I think now is the time to pack our things!


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