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The Hope of Travel

October 15, 2020

By Lisa Li, exhibitions manager

The holidays are approaching fast. Before COVID-19, I had a since-canceled family cruise planned the week of Thanksgiving, but like many others around the world, I'm now left wondering what we can and should safely do together. I'm more than excited to figure this out, though, because I really miss planning for travel—the thrill of figuring out where to go, preparing an itinerary, finding affordable airfare, researching local culture and museums, discovering kid-friendly locations, exploring local breweries. I even miss the discussions with my husband about budget! I don't know whether it will be safe to travel this November and December, let alone when I'll feel comfortable getting on a plane or a cruise ship again . . . but for now, I can consider the possibilities.

Florida travel poster
Poster, To Florida and the South – Savannah Line, c. 1900. Ocean Steamship Company of Savannah, Georgia, publisher. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, XX1990.2688.

In conversation with friends, they agree that travel is one of the things they miss most. Many had vacations over spring or summer break that they had to postpone or cancel, and they wonder when they'll be able to rebook. Everyone has different ideas about when they'll feel secure enough to travel; it's a personal decision to determine the time that's right for you. Some are ready now, while others are holding back from traveling until there's a vaccine.

South Africa travel brochure
Brochure, Union-Castle Line Summer Tours to South Africa, 1934. Union–Castle Mail Steamship Company, London, publisher. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, TD1989.317.2.

Being in Miami, I'm surrounded by people in the tourism and hospitality industry. My sister is a flight attendant, my husband and sister-in-law work for a cruise line, a cousin for a hotel company, and I work at a museum in the heart of a city that depends on tourists. We're people who are accustomed to frequent comings and goings. Yet almost everywhere, there have been layoffs, furloughs, and pay reductions. For most of us, it's no longer just a question of travel timing—it's a question of when it will be financially possible.

Swiss poster of someone skating
Poster, Eislauf [Skating], sheet from Davos, c. 1916. Burkhard Mangold, designer. Zurich. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, TD1989.349.11.

But, there is also hope. More people are flying in greater numbers, and as beaches and parks have reopened, some are opting for domestic road trips in lieu of pricier excursions abroad or by plane.

Italian travel poster
Poster, Santa Margherita Ligure, 1933–34. Viero Migliorati, designer. Genoa, Italy. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, 87.541.4.1.

Studies say that travelers are happiest before and after a vacation. Although I don't know when the "after" will be for me, I can surely work on the "before." Where will my imagination take me? Will it be Chicago, Puerto Rico, a cruise through the Caribbean, Portugal, or South Africa? For now, I can plan them all and wait for the time when I'll be able to set a date and book one! In the meantime, I save save save.

Mediterranean travel poster
Poster, Crociere e Viaggi in Mediterraneo, 1935. Gino Boccasile, designer. Milan. The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Dennis W. Wilhelm & Michael D. Kinerk, 2011.13.1.

The Wolfsonian's collection dates from the time when leisure travel first became possible for ordinary people. The museum has wonderful tourism promotion materials—thousands of brochures, postcards, pamphlets, and more—all serving as daily reminders of my love for travel. Enjoy this selection and dream of a time we are traveling again.

Fort Lauderdale brochure
Brochure, Fort Lauderdale, Florida: "The Tropical Wonderland," c. 1925. Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Wolfsonian–FIU, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection, XB1991.322.