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Old 05-20-2016, 08:44 AM
Fretful Porpentine Fretful Porpentine is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Bohemia. A seacoast.
Posts: 6,285
Originally Posted by rbroome View Post
I am not a historian, but it seems that this practice lasted quite late. I remember reading "The Kings Speech" about Mr. Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia who came to England to help out the new King in the late 1920s. the Logue family traveled through the US on the way to England and made arrangements to stay with a series of people in the US of a similar class. That is, they didn't know them, but they had letters of introduction from people in Australia that did know them. Apparently this form of travel was the norm. One decided where one was going, found a friend able to write a letter to a friend at the destination, and off you went. Friend by friend. Presumably, you reciprocated when someone showed up at your door with a letter from one of your friends. And I assume that letters were sent in advance to help. So traveling with letters of recommendation and with letters of credit from your local bank lasted quite late in history.
There's also a delightful series of travel memoirs by Patrick Leigh Fermor, who traveled from Rotterdam to Istanbul in the 1930s, mostly on foot. He camped out a lot of the time, and spent a few nights in youth hostels and the like, but mostly he got himself invited to stay with people -- very often minor nobility, who would invite him into their castle and then send off letters to friends at his next destination. Once he befriended his first central European baron, he was in with all of the others.

It obviously helped that he was a personable, attractive young man, and that he knew how to send off the right social class signals even when he was tramping across the continent with only a single change of clothes.