As with every historical travel book I find, the particulars and prose place the reader in another time, yet people will be people.
This pocket-size piece, How to Travel: Hints, Advice, and Suggestions to Travelers by Land and Sea All Over The Globe by Thomas Knox was published in 1881. The version I found at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia was distributed by The Erie Railway, which included advertisements in the back.
It’s packed with hints, advice, and—you guessed it—suggestions. As you’ll see, some things just don’t change.
1. IF YOU UNDER-DECLARE AT CUSTOMS, BE CHILL ABOUT IT
“Declare anything that may be liable to duty and call attention to it, and conduct yourself generally as though it was one of the delights of your life to pass a custom-house examination.”
If you are inclined to defraud the revenue, do it gracefully and conceal your contraband articles so that it will not be easy to find them yourself after you are out of reach of the officials.
“Honesty is, however, the best policy in this business, and the smuggler is just as much a violator of the law as a burglar.”
2. ALWAYS CARRY CHANGE
“Even where they [service industry workers] admit that they are possessed of small coin, they generally manage so as to mulct you in something by having their change give out before the proper return is reached. The New York hackman to whom you hand a five-dollar bill for him to deduct his fare of two dollars will usually discover that he has only two dollars, or perhaps two and a half, in his possession; and the London cabman will play the same trick when you ask him to take half a crown from a five-shilling piece. All over the world you will find it the same. There may be an occasional exception, but it only proves the rule. And when you enter the great field of gratuities, you will find that the absence of small change will cost you heavily.”
3. DON’T PLAY EUCHRE WITH STRANGERS!
“Beware of playing cards with strangers who wish to start a friendly game of euchre which is subsequently changed to draw-poker or some other seductive and costly amusement. This advice is superfluous in case you are in the gambling line yourself, and confident that you can "get away" with any adversary you may be pitted against.”
4. LOCK YOUR DOORS FROM SCOUNDRELS!
“A crowded steamboat at night is the paradise of the pickpocket, who frequently manages to reap a rich harvest from the unprotected slumberers. Even the private rooms are not safe from thieves, as their occupants are frequently robbed. On one occasion, some thirty or more rooms on a sound steamer were entered in a single night. The scoundrels had obtained access to the rooms in the day-time, and arranged the locks on the doors so that they could not be properly fastened.”
5. RESERVE YOUR CHAIRS
“If you are of a sedentary habit, buy a steamer chair, and when you buy it make up your mind that you will occupy it when you want to. A great number of people who say they "don't want the bother of a chair," or "didn't think to get one," are in the habit of helping themselves to the chairs of others without the least compunction of conscience and without caring a straw as to the desires of the owners for their property. Women are worse offenders than men in this matter, and the young and pretty are worse than the older and plainer.”
“If you have a stony heart you will turn an intruder out of your chair without ceremony, whatever the age or sex, but if you cannot muster the courage to do so your best plan is to send the deck steward to bring the chair, and while he is getting it you can remain quietly out of sight. “
6. NO ONE LIKES A CRUISE SHIP GOSSIP!
“A ship is a world, and the ocean is the measureless azure in which it floats. Sea and sky are your boundaries, and the horizon-line is ever the same. The weaknesses of human nature, as well as its noble qualities, are developed here, and sometimes they are limned in sharper outlines than on land.”
“Persons whom you have known for years will develop on shipboard qualities that you never suspected them of possessing.”
“You had always thought your neighbor on the right was a selfish mortal, but you now find that he is self-sacrificing to the extreme; on the other hand, the man whom you believed a model of politeness turns out to be quite the reverse. Never in your life have you heard as much gossip in a month as you now hear in a single week; the occupation, character, peculiarities, hopes, desires, and frailties of everybody are canvassed by a goodly proportion of busy tongues, and the ship will very likely impress you as a school for scandal which Sheridan might envy.
Don't take a share in the gossip, and don't concern yourself about the private affairs of anyone else. Be polite to everybody, but don't be in a hurry to make acquaintances; by so doing you will stand higher in their estimation, and will have time to find out those whom you would like the best.”
7. EVEN THE ARGONAUTS GOT SEASICK
“Sea-sickness is a mystery, and the more we study it the more are we at sea as to its exact operation.” (Marc here: Thomas Knox totally smiled after writing that sentence.)
“[Dr. Baker] also recommends a person about making a sea-voyage to take a supply of "mustard leaves," which can be had at the druggist's. They are useful in allaying the nausea and vomiting by getting up a counter irritation, and should be applied over the pit of the stomach."
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
8. IT’S OK TO CRY WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR SHIP
“As we leave the ship that has brought us safely over the ocean, it will be no discredit to our manhood if we say good-bye to her, and wish her many prosperous voyages. A feeling akin to affection is not infrequently developed by the traveler for the ship that has carried him, and ever after he will take a personal interest in her fortunes.”