Travel Snippets: The Grand Tour

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As a gentleman in the eighteenth century, it was considered obligatory to further your education and gather exposure to aristocratic European society by means of the Grand Tour of Europe.  The length of your trip was directly related to your purse, with anything from a few months to up to eight years being considered acceptable.  (Quite some gap year!)  In particular, a gentleman was expected to include Venice, Naples, Sicily and Rome on the tour, and to return with a fine collection of art and antiquities.  Some also returned with rather more exotic diseases.

Over time, the use of rail and steamship travel made the tour accessible to the middle classes, and the Cook’s Tour emerged via the one and only Thomas Cook, who began taking parties on the “grand circular tour” of Europe in 1851.

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3 thoughts on “Travel Snippets: The Grand Tour

  1. Interesting factoid! I think everyone should have the chance to see the world, explore other cultures, etc. When we have kids, I will definitely encourage / help them pay for a gap year or for study abroad. I think that is my only regret in life – not beginning international travel sooner!

  2. The English version of an Australian walkabout, or the German VonderVogel…or, are they versions of the English Grand Tour? I like the idea of all the well-pursed brining back art work…the British Museum and the Louvre were both like a tour of great art works from the world. And all those Romantics like Byron and Shelley who hung around, purse or not.
    Later…

  3. It must have been quite some rite of passage. I wonder how the family at home felt during the eight year version, sustained only by the occasional letter, and with (presumably) a virtual stranger returning after all that time. That’s quite some broadening of the mind through travel!

    Not having children of my own, I’m looking forward to when my godchildren are old enough to travel independently…can’t wait to help them get to see the world.

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