Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Proprieties and Usages of Good Society — Lesson IV. Traveling

Proprieties and Usages of Good Society — Lesson IV. Traveling

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 16, 2010

III. Dress
V. Travel by Sea

IV. Traveling

Traveling has become so common now-a-days, that nearly everyone has had a little journey somewhere, or is planning to take one. Our people are great travelers – perhaps no other upon the face of the earth, relatively speaking, can compare with the Mormons in this respect. But, naturally, it is the men who have gone out more than the women; however, a great many of the latter are beginning to venture forth into the great world beyond the confines of Utah, and this paper is designed to give all who may contemplate a journey East or West, some information which will be helpful to them in traveling.

In the first place, let it be said, that the traveler needs to supply herself with an unlimited amount of patience and civility. Young people who make their first journey are apt to have plenty of these two qualities. Another most valuable assistant to a traveler is an air of composure and reserve, for if a girl shows signs of nervousness or fear, or even of helplessness, she is liable to subject herself to some unpleasant experiences: therefore, let it be said in the beginning, that if anything unusual happens – if accidents or unforeseen things occur to break into the journey or leave the girl alone, dependent on her own resources in a strange place, let her, above all things, keep cool and retain composure of manner, which will command the respect of all about her. This will be referred to later on in detail.

Let us suppose that some lady, young or old, is obliged to take a trip on the train, alone and unattended, to some distant point in the East. Let her first make inquiries of the two railroads which go out of this State, and decide which route she prefers. After the traveler has decided this, she should go to the ticket office herself; even if some male friend offers to get her tickets for her, she should go along to familiarize herself with some of the preliminary details of traveling. Select time-tables which will cover the whole route you are going to take; then ask the ticket agent to mark your train on all of them. These little time-tables furnish a good deal of amusement enroute, as you can follow your train on the map and thus keep track of your progress by aid of the little towns through which you pass. Another most excellent suggestion is to secure guide books descriptive of the places you are going to visit and the sights which are worth seeing when you get there. Read these books through carefully and you will then be an intelligent observer of the unusual or beautiful sights which you may have the privilege of seeing while you are away. While in the railroad ticket office, secure your sleeping berth in the Pullman car, provided you have decided to take one of the Pullman sleepers. These sleepers are very expensive, but of course they are very delightful if you can afford them. Now-a-days both the Union Pacific and the Rio Grande Western have what is called Ordinary Sleepers to Chicago, which cost just half the Pullman price. The regular Pullman rate from Salt Lake to Chicago on either road (the berths being large enough for two people, if they can squeeze into a small place), are $9, while the cost of the ordinary sleeper for the same distance is only $4.50. The latter have been improved until they are very comfortable. Harvard professors, as well as editors and many other intelligent people ride in these sleepers.

Your baggage should, if possible, be sent down to the depot the day before you start. Do not take much with you; you will only find it in the way, and it will be a constant annoyance and expense to you. Every time you move a trunk in a large city, it will cost from fifty cents to one dollar. On the other hand, carry as little as possible into the day-coach with you. One small valise ought to contain all you need on the journey.

As to the clothing you should take: first, of course, you need a neat traveling dress – dark gray or brown is a suitable color – very simply but well made, short enough to clear the ground; made with a jacket and skirt, beneath the jacket of which you can wear various shirt waists, or even a pretty silk waist for dinner at the hotel or in the evening. Soft traveling hats are much more comfortable than those of heavy velvet or braid. Many ladies, when they get into the cars for a long journey, take their hats off, fasten them in a bag made of silk, or other pretty material, and place them in the rack above the seat. Besides the traveling dress, one dinner dress or handsome costume, with a soft flannel kimona or dressing sack for winter, or a flowered cotton one for summer, are all one needs in the way of outer clothing, for a journey of a few weeks. Do not carry too much underwear. If your underwear is of soft, knitted material, it is not impossible to wash it in your hotel basin with naptha soap, hanging it over the register or radiator to ry. Take plenty of handkerchiefs, and wash them yourself, even if you send your other clothing to the laundry.

Into the satchel which you take into the car with you, put a dark kimona or a wrapper to use when passing back and forth between your berth and the toilet; also a piece of castile soap in a small metal or celluloid box; a comb and brush, and a tooth brush in a small oil-silk case; a small box of good tooth powder, a good nail-file, a small towel, and a wash-rag; these may all be put into a little velvet bag or traveling case, and taken out when you go to the toilet for your morning ablutions. You will find plenty of towels in the Pullman cars, and sometimes in the day-coaches, also; but if you desire to freshen up at the station, you will need a towel for yourself. Into this valise you should also put a small bottle of cologne with which to wipe your dusty face occasionally; also a little bottle of cleaning stuff with which to remove spots from your dress; a pocket knife, a pair of scissors, hair pins, a small roll of clean handkerchiefs, a small clothes brush or whisk-broom, a hand-mirror, a lead pencil and a writing tablet, stamped envelopes and postal cards; and some carry a small closed metal ink stand. Into this valise, also, put your time-tables; and in a small shopping bag, on top of everything else put your purse, card case, tickets and any other valuables, together with a little memorandum book and an address book. Have your name stamped plainly on your purse and on your valise, inside or outside. Carry as little money as possible in your purse.

Have a little chamois skin bag made, with a string attached to it; tie this around your neck, pinning it to your underwear, and in this bag carry the bulk of your money. Carry with you a few cards showing the Articles of Faith, as you may find occasion to use them, and when used discreetly and modestly you can dispel a great deal of prejudice and impart valuable information. One constant traveler always carries a small Book of Mormon, Testament and Ready Reference; but whether you do this or not, get a booklet of views of Salt Lake City and Utah, as pictures tell far more than any words can possibly do of the beauty and prosperity of our lovely capital city. If you go into the day-coach and do not take a sleeper, it is wise to take a heavier wrap or shawl than your jacket, if it is fall, winter or spring weather; also a small down-pillow, and a pair of rubbers, as well as an umbrella if you should wish it; and strap all these in your shawl-strap. Into your shawl-strap you will also put your magazines and other reading matter to beguile the time while you are enroute.

And now as to the question of food: some people who wish to be economical prepare luncheon sufficient to last them across the continent; others take enough to supply them for one or two meals a day, taking one hot meal in the dining-car daily. Meals in the diner, however, are rather expensive and seldom cost less than seventy-five cents. If you take luncheon, it is a good plan to pack your meats and other savory food in an open-mouthed basket, as when they are shut up in closed boxes or valises, they soon grow musty and stale. Cut your sandwiches neatly and wrap each one separately in oiled paper; do the same daintily with your fried chicken and boiled eggs. Little bottles of jelly and pickles, especially if they are home-made, form a delicious addition to the luncheon; nuts and crackers will also be appreciated. Procure plenty of oiled paper as well as white tissue paper, and make your basket or box look appetizing and dainty. Add a knife, fork, spoon, small plate, and a little silver or granite cup, napkins and tray cloth, to the contents of your basket, with a little bit of sugar and salt for emergencies. Lemons are very healthful and refreshing for drinks on the train. Fruit can be bought in the car while traveling, but is very expensive, and it is difficult to get in and out of the train quickly enough to buy fruit when the trains stop only five or ten minutes at a station; therefore, have a box of fruit, prettily arranged, sufficient to last you to Chicago, and there you can buy plenty more cheaply at or very near the station.

Often people are troubled by nausea while riding on the train. Many travelers prevent it by taking something into the stomach before attempting to dress in the morning. For this purpose one recommends ginger root, another crackers or fruit.

Before you board the car, go to the baggage-room yourself (no matter who may offer to do this for you), at least accompany your friend, and see to the checking of your baggage, as this will help you in future cases of the same kind. Be sure your checks are in your purse, and as you can usually check your trunk only as far as Chicago, you must be sure to keep that fact in mind and attend to the re-checking when you reach that city.

In passing into the train remember that those coming out have the first right of way. This is also true in regard to street cars, elevators, etc. And now you are on board, and have said good-bye to all of your friends. You may feel lonely or joyous, or both; but be careful not to betray your feelings to those about you; and on this point let it be said that the best rule for the woman traveling alone, especially if she is not accustomed to traveling, is to make no acquaintances whatever, particularly male acquaintances. Answer any questions civilly and courteously that may be asked you, and if a lady offers to enter into conversation with you there is no harm and often some interest derived from such temporary acquaintances. The loquacious traveler is the amusement of a whole car full of people and is either pitied or snubbed, according to the people with whom she may come in contact. If you are traveling with a male companion the case is quite different and you may safely accept the advances of any lady on the train, and even exchange conversation with any gentleman who may be talking with your male companion. Do not make the mistake of being too stiff and prim; but this is better than being too free and frivolous.

Remember to write once or twice a day on your postal cards to your friends at home; and as you may have to ask the porter to post these for you, it is expected that you give him a nickle each time, or else a quarter when you reach Chicago; and if you are in the Pullman sleeper, first-class, you will be expected to “tip” the porter a quarter a day. The porter on the ordinary sleeper expects only half this amount; but if you do not do this you will be treated very coolly and discourteously. This is a habit that has been established without your help and you must make the best of it.

And now what shall you do supposing you have some accident on the train? If you should be so unfortunate as to be in some railroad collision or other accident, sit absolutely still and cling to the handles of your seat – more people are killed or injured by jumping up at such a time than in any other way. Sit still, remember, sit still! And pray with all your might. Do not scream and add to the confusion – there will be enough without that; but if you have had a blessing of the priesthood before starting on your journey, you need not be afraid of being killed while traveling. If any unpleasant occurrence should happen, such as stepping off the train and being left, keep cool and look for some official of the road, all of whom wear caps or brass buttons on their coats. Go to him and state your case quietly and ask him for his advice. Never get off the train, and never go away from your seat without taking the little shopping bag containing your purse and tickets. The official of the road will tell you to telegraph ahead, or such instructions will be given you as will suit the circumstances. Never ask questions of anybody except officials; and if anyone offers to assist you other than an official, as a rule politely but coolly decline such assistance.

Keep your eyes open while traveling. Presumably you are traveling to see something; then see it, with every faculty on the alert. Impress what you see on your mind so distinctly that you can describe every varying characteristic of the landscape, the conditions and the people, when you return home to your friends, for it is in this way that your travels will avail you something. Some people who go around the world, return home so utterly ignorant of what they have seen that all they can answer you about it is, that the earth is round.

Now we will suppose that you have arrived at your journey’s end. If possible you should have telegraphed ahead twenty-four hours to some friend in the city of your destination, asking to be met at the station, stating plainly the train you are on and the time of its arrival.



  1. I’ve been blogging recently about my great-grandmother who went to Berlin in 1907-1908 to study piano. This guide gives an amazing and very detailed picture about what it would have been like for her to travel long distances in the early 20th century. I wonder if she took a box with daintily wrapped fried chicken and hard-boiled eggs. :)

    What is a granite cup?

    Comment by Researcher — February 16, 2010 @ 8:55 am

  2. Oh, I know, I know! (Obnoxious girl in the front row waving hand for teacher’s attention.)

    Graniteware is that metalware coated with enamel, usually blue or gray, with the white flecks all over it. They still make it for camping gear and for things like cold-pack canners and basins. I can see why that kind of cup would be recommended here since it would be lightweight and non-breakable, as well as sanitary.

    Researcher, next week’s installment on Travel by Sea should pick up your great-grandmother’s experiences right where this one leaves off and carry her all the way to Hamburg — after that, you and she are on your own. Bon voyage.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  3. This is awesome. All this talk about daintily wrapped savories makes me want to take luncheon early (I might add that my luncheon of whole wheat tortilla with aged sharp cheddar, edamame, and a fuji apple is pretty darn daintily done up).

    Oh, and as I read this I could only try to reconstruct in my mind what it must have been like for the intended audience to read such stuff–did they find comfort in the paternalistic tone? did it annoy them? did they even notice that they were being treated like silly little kids? Good stuff.

    Comment by oudenos — February 16, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  4. I wonder what our young ladies of 1902 would make of your lunch, oudenos — tortilla? edamame? fuji apple? (“Where are your lemons? your fried chicken?”)

    I’m guessing that the subject was as exotic to many of them as the idea of travel by sea is to me, and that they were imagining the adventure of it too much to notice the tone at all. And is there a word — maternalistic? — to describe that tone when it comes from women like those who wrote these lessons? I’ve never thought to wonder that before.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  5. Ardis, this is a very interesting series. just love the advise about what to do in case of an accident. I wonder if you can remember all that stuff in the heat of the moment. I can imagine everyone sharing food during lunch, interesting conversations and friendships being developed. I’m to believe that most men were gentlemen and would look out for ladies and young girls. Different times than now. Can’t wait for the ship piece.

    Comment by Mex Davis — February 16, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  6. Paternalistic or maternalistic, I don’t know. My sense as I read was that this article of advice was a wonderful favor and a service to the uninitiated traveler (or maybe I’m just in a good mood today?).

    The advice about surviving a railroad collision was perhaps a bit over-the-top, but captivating, still:

    “[S]it absolutely still and cling to the handles of your seat – more people are killed or injured by jumping up at such a time than in any other way. Sit still, remember, sit still! And pray with all your might. Do not scream and add to the confusion – there will be enough without that; but if you have had a blessing of the priesthood before starting on your journey, you need not be afraid of being killed while traveling.”


    Comment by Hunter — February 16, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  7. Thanks, Mex. The accident prep seems to me a little more immediate, a little less distanced, than the way a flight attendant instructs a cabin full of passengers on what to do in case of incident — or maybe I’ve just heard those instructions so much that they’ve lost their impact. That sure spiced up this article!

    I like your assumptions that travel under these circumstances would be so social and pleasant. I hope it was so.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  8. Hunter, that was certainly a MORMON element to the article, wasn’t it! I think we forget to imagine, sometimes, how new solo train travel might be to many teens and young women of that time. Most of us are such experienced travelers of one kind or another. But I can still remember the first time I had to take a cab (I was a missionary, so there was the language and cultural strangeness on top of the newness of a cab). It was at a train station in Lyon, so I stood out of sight behind a pillar and watched for almost an hour to see how other passengers signaled a cab, whether they handled their own luggage or expected the driver to do it, where they sat, whether they gave their destination before they got in or after, everything I could figure out. Probably it wouldn’t have mattered if I had done everything “wrong.” But I sure would have appreciated an article like these telling me how to do this scary, strange new thing. Honestly, I think that experience with the cab (and it turned out just fine, of course) is what made me recognize this series as something nearly unique in my Mormon history experience.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  9. What a fascinating window into the past and all that traveling entailed. How much things have changed- and yet, how much the same. Thank you Ardis for bringing so much to light again.

    Comment by Tracy M — February 16, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  10. Glad you enjoyed it, Tracy. Makes you appreciate the freedom of jumping in a car, zooming down a highway, and knowing there will be grocery stores, fast food, and motels nearly everywhere, doesn’t it? But at the same time it makes me a little nostalgic for a past I didn’t know personally.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 10:46 am

  11. This does prove that the Americanization of “kimono” had already occurred by the beginning of the 20th Century!

    And it seems that “pack light” was belied by the list of things that the young woman traveler should take with her. As I read through the list, I fully expected to run into the kitchen sink.

    I did shed a tear or two for the young ladies whose underwear was not “soft, knitted material.” What’s the alternative? Burlap?

    Comment by Mark B. — February 16, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  12. Starched cotton, and many layers of it!

    It isn’t a part of this series (unless I’ve forgotten), but another piece of advice I read somewhere in the young women’s materials recently was that some travelers made temple garments out of cheesecloth because that could be washed in a hotel basin and dried overnight.

    Oh, if the antis who mock Mormon underwear only knew how complex the topic really could be …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  13. Thanks, Ardis. I was trying to picture a cup made out of granite in all its igneous glory, and besides the fact that I’ve never seen anything like that, it wasn’t quite working as a light-weight travel accessory.

    Comment by Researcher — February 16, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

  14. And by the way, I’m looking forward to the installment on boat travel. It should be very interesting.

    Comment by Researcher — February 16, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

  15. The advice about how to behave in an accident had me in stitches. I would however, hope that no-one was killed or concussed by falling satchels, Books of Mormon, or hard boiled eggs.

    Next time I undertake a long train journey (generally undertaken without fear of dying, despite the fact I neglect to ask for blessings beforehand) and am mocked by the offspring for the amount of luggage I am carrying, I shall point them towards this post!

    I’m really enjoying this series. Thanks, Ardis!

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — February 16, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  16. Yes … ricocheting hard boiled eggs … a long-suppressed memory rises to the surface … On our way to some district event in Toulouse, my mission companion suspended a bag of carefully wrapped deviled eggs from the handlebars of her bicycle, while I did something similar with whatever else we were bringing. That lasted until the bottom of the hill, when a sharp left turn drew the bag into the spinning spokes of her front wheel. Talk about something hitting the fan!

    Hard boiled eggs, probably still in their shells, jolted from a dainty basket by the rude force of a collision, no doubt would be even more dangerous.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  17. I think I liked this post the best of all you have included so far in the series. Like others of you, I was intrigued by the prettily boxed fruit and the neatly cut sandwiches, etc. I also contrasted the “neat traveling dress – dark gray or brown is a suitable color – very simply but well made, short enough to clear the ground; made with a jacket and skirt” and the soft traveling hats with what people wear today on the airplanes. It was a whole different world back then.

    I look forward to the boat travel part, too.

    Comment by Maurine — February 16, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

  18. I think the young ladies should have packed bento boxes to go with the kimonos. I liked the emphasis placed on the women learning to navigate all of the details of the journey for themselves. I imagine this advice could have saved a number of ladies whose travel plans were complicated by weather or other unforeseen glitch. Of course, one of my favorite travel tips comes from Rick Steves- always grab a card from your hotel front desk. If you get lost you can just hand it to a cabbie, and you’ll get home without having to know where you are or speak the language.

    Comment by Moniker Challenged — February 17, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

  19. Never thought of that! Not that I get to travel, but this is exactly the kind of good advice that sticks in my brain and will pop to the surface if I ever do get a chance to go someplace utterly alien.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 17, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

  20. Hmm. “Utterly alien.”

    I find myself pulled in the direction of reading this article not just as advice for a young woman taking the train for the first time out of her Utah home, but also for a person heading into the 20th century.

    What common sense of the turn of the 19th century to the 20th could have prepared anyone for the last hundred years?

    I wonder how the writer of the article would have responded to a vision of the cultural and historical events of the 20th century. As a train wreck? And what railroad functionary (marked either by Or brass buttons) could have given useful advice?

    Undoubtedly “an unlimited amount of patience and civility” would continue to come in handy, along with “an air of composure and reserve,” however one felt “signs of nervousness or fear, or even the helplessness….”

    Sartre might have been intrigued by suggested remedies for nausea (“ginger root” and “crackers or fruit” do not work for me). When faced with life’s little problems, it is often difficult not to “jump up.” I do indeed find it difficult to “sit absolutely still and cling to the handles of [my] seat.” Who knows – things might work out better if I could remember to do so.

    The advice “to pray with all your might” and to hand out articles of faith cards to dispel erroneous ideas seems like the best advice in the article. And to hold in mind that we are “traveling to see something,” and should therefore “see it, with every faculty on the alert.”

    After all, we are told that a full report will be required.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — February 18, 2010 @ 6:58 am

  21. I recall the day my fourteen year-old self was in Munich in 1976, knowing no German, and my parents allowed me to go by myself to the Museum across town that we had visited the previous day as a family.

    I took the streetcar. I got on and was confronted with a huge machine that I was expected to pay for my trip. Some kindly person tried to help me, but in a couple of minutes I gave up in frustration, not really knowing how to get where I was going and totally unable to read the mile long words I was confronted with. After a few stops I got off the train.

    Unfortunately, I did not have anything identifying my hotel, and for some reason I could not backtrack due to the number of converging tracks. I am not sure how I found my way, but it sure would have been a better trip if someone had told me what to do before hand.

    At this juncture I really don’t know what my parents were thinking in letting me go without any preparation. It was an adventure of sorts, but afforded little opportunity to see my objective “with every faculty on the alert,” or otherwise.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — February 19, 2010 @ 7:38 am

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