50 Vintage Photos That Show What Traveling Used to Look Like
Explore the glamorous age of adventure
Bossa Nova bands playing in Rio in the 1960s. Nature enthusiasts watching the geysers blow at Yellowstone National Park in 1912. Families cruising in a Cadillac on a cross-country road trip in the 1940s. There was something downright magical about traveling in eras past. Not only was it more glamorous—people dressed up in suits, heels, and gloves to go to the airport instead of today's sweatpants and sneakers—but time also moved slower, putting the focus on the journey instead of the destination. Sure, it's never been easier to explore the world than it is today—but that doesn't mean we can't yearn for a little nostalgic jaunt into the past. Browse the album below for vintage travel photos from trips around the globe and across the decades.
Cruise ship sleepover
A group of women pose in their bunks in a sleeping cabin aboard the British India cruise ship, circa 1950s.
So long, farewell
Friends and family wave goodbye on a train set for Italy during the Wirtschaftwunder, or wave of mass-tourism, following the second world war in Germany, 1958.
A mod airport scene
Air travel out of New York City was much more mod and minimalist in 1965. Today, this terminal at John F. Kennedy airport has been restored to its former glory and reopened as the glamorous TWA Hotel. Here, guests can sip Shirley Temples in a converted 1958 aircraft or dip in a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the runway.
A woman smiles with her suitcases from the back of a camper van, circa 1960s.
Jazz age journeys
Sea travelers make their way through the Panama Canal in the 1920s.
Tourists on a bus tour through Washington, D.C. in February 1974.
A crowd welcomes passenger ship M/S Stockholm as it arrives in the port of New York on March 1, 1948, from Gothenburg, Sweden.
A passenger watches as a customs officer at Tempelhof Airfield in Berlin, Germany examines her luggage in the 1930s.
Two men ride motorcycles through the mountains in May 1972.
The dining car
Train passengers enjoy cake and coffee in the dining car on The East German Railway, on a route from Leipzig to Munich.
An animal encounter
The tourists in this wood-paneled station wagon got to meet a few furry locals during their trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Analog info gathering
Before the internet, a visit to the info desk was a must on any trip. Here, tourists get maps and other information from a park ranger at the Grand Canyon in 1948.
Capitol bus tours
Tourists take in Capitol Hill and other Washington, D.C. sights by bus in 1974.
Tourists and locals used to get across New York City in pay-as-you-enter streetcars. This shot was taken in 1916. To step in one of these vintage subways yourself, check out the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn.
The original Airbnb
Two women relax at an inn in Truro, Massachusetts during August 1940.
Backpackers on a week-long hike through The Maze, a remote and rugged region of Utah's Canyonlands National Park in May 1972. Their minimalist setup is nowhere near today's glamping accommodations, such as Under Canvas.
A couple takes a photo to commemorate their road trip through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, circa 1950.
A kid-friendly adventure
Families unpack and prepare for a beach vacation in Tallahassee, Florida in May 1957.
Four women dress in hats, heels, and dresses to board a plane at the airport in the 1940s.
Up close and personal
A well-dressed man pets a bear cub in a national park. (Date unknown)
A couple plays with the propeller on an airplane for a photograph in the early 1900s.
A packed parking lot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 1952.
Two women sled down a steep, snowy slope in Yosemite National Park in 1904.
Two young boys standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon in 1960 during a family vacation.
Luggage has changed substantially since the 1940s and 50s, when people would travel with trunks instead of smart suitcases.
A picnic lunch in St. Petersburg, Russia (formerly Leningrad) during a family road trip in 1983.
The simple tent these Girl Scouts were setting up in the 1950s is a far cry from today's multi-room mansions.
Why travel on the back of a motorcycle, when you can ride shotgun in a sidecar like the woman in this vintage photo?
Eleanor Roosevelt carries her suitcase at New York City's LaGuardia Airport in 1960.
A Greyhound bus drives through Arizona in 1959.
A tourist sets up his camera for a photo at Rhyolite, a ghost town in Nevada, in March 1940.
A Mini Traveller boards a sea ferry in the Scottish highlands in 1968.
Tourists take a photograph during a trip to the medieval town of Wiesensteig, Germany in October 1950.
A group climbs Fox Glacier in New Zealand's Westland Tai Poutini National Park in 1966.
A woman and her two guides take in the vast expanse of a desert in Jordan during the 1950s.
A family of four smiles for the camera on vacation, circa 1970s.
The maitre d' of the Brighton Belle Pullman train carriage checks in with a passenger and her dog on a platform at London's Victoria Station in the 1950s. You can experience the glamorous train today by booking a trip on the luxurious Belmond British Pullman.
Adventures in Mexico
Tourists pose with local residents in Tijuana, Mexico in the early 1900s.
Sightseers tour Washington, D.C. by horse and carriage, circa 1942.
Passengers awaiting flights in a Washington, D.C. airport terminal in April 1940.
A backpacker poses on the front lawn of a youth hostel in 1966.
A young woman dressed in ski attire poses with her skis for a photo, circa 1940s or 1950s.
Tourists board the Skagit tour boat at Ross Lake in Washington state, circa 1970s.
A group soaks up the sun on Mar del Plata beach in Argentina in 1930.
The Grand Geyser erupts 200 feet high at Yellowstone National Park in 1912.
Visitors ask questions at the information booth during a trip to Washington, D.C. in April 1969.
A traveler poses in Uganda, Africa, in the 1950s with a plaque explaining that the bridge was a re-erected emergency steel bridge, which had originally been built over the River Thames during WWII.
A young woman waits on the sidewalk with a suitcase in Hollywood, California, in 1942.
Hikers explore the Grand Canyon in 1972.
In plane sight
Men stand around near the tarmac of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania airport in April 1940.