Welcome to Tone’s 1960s Travels – a collection of real travel letters and photos sent home by a young British man as he circled the world during the 1960s.
Each letter is shared on the date it was written, just 53 years later. (They appear on the site with the most recent at the top of the home page.)
I’m Tiffany, a features journalist and the curator of this blog.
In the 1960s, my father Tony spent over three years travelling around the world with his best friend Colin. Two quintessentially British young men, they set off seeking adventure, and they found it, all over the world.
They had innumerable scrapes and adventures as they worked (and sometimes blagged) their way across the continents, all chronicled in Tony’s funny, detailed and atmospheric letters, sent home to his family in Bristol.
These are letters from a time before the tourist trail became a well-beaten path from one youth hostel to the next, and before routes were all meticulously pre-planned online.
Letters from a time before travellers had constant contact via mobiles and the internet, before Instagram and Tripadvisor, before social media and global 24-hour rolling news.
They paint fascinating pictures of the 1960s in all corners of the globe, and offer glimpses of local cultures which were not yet consumed by today’s worldwide homogeneity.
They also chronicle how two young men broke free of Britain’s stultifying post-war class system and austerity to embrace a whole world of freedom and adventure.
In addition to letters and photos from the trip, there are additional notes added today, both by me and by Tony, who is now 79. He’s also sharing some extra details which he’d decided not to post home to his mother at the time….
We hope you enjoy as much as we do. x
Or see below for Tony’s introduction to this blog and to his world trip…
Tony’s introduction to the blog…
During the period October 1964 and September 1967, I travelled the world extensively with my friend Colin. The background to this adventure is as follows :-
Colin and I became good friends as a result of us both being members of the Bristol Youth Theatre Workshop. We met at the inception of the workshop, which was sometime during the late fifties. During the late fifties and early sixties we went on holiday together both in this country and abroad. We went on what must have been one of the first package holidays to Spain (to Tossa de Mar), and in 1963 went to France in Colin’s Mini for a camping holiday.
The weather on this holiday was atrocious, with constant rain all down through France. In an attempt to escape the rain, we went further and further south and finally ended up in Spain, where at last we found sunshine.
We spent the holiday on a campsite somewhere near San Sebastian, and it was at this site that we became friendly with two girls from New Zealand, who were on a trip working their way around the world. All they had was a small tent and a rather clapped out Lambretta scooter.
After listening to their stories of their travels, our envy must have been obvious, and their advice to us was ‘don’t envy us – go ahead and do it!’
Colin and I returned home to our jobs. At that time I was working for SKF in Manchester, and Colin was working for Gardener Merchants in Oxford. Meeting up at weekends we often recalled our discussions with the New Zealand travellers, and eventually decided to take their advice and ‘do it’. We had both decided we wanted to travel before we settled down, and see the world.
Thus started a period of planning and preparation. After six months, we both resigned from our jobs on the same Monday morning, this proving to be the most difficult part of the venture.
Having obtained USA Immigration visas we set off for the United States of America on board the liner the Queen Elizabeth departing from Southampton, heading for New York – the start of a great adventure which was to last three years. Our original plan was to take two years, but somehow we just seemed to keep adding extras to our itinerary.
During these three years, I sent letters to my family constantly, because I knew that they would worry about me, and also be very interested in what we were doing. Luckily, all my letters were saved, and these form the basis of an excellent diary of our trip.
These letters are reproduced here, and for me bring back many happy memories, and for others I feel sure will make interesting reading.
The Atlantic Crossing
An important part of our preparation had been to obtain a ‘Green Card’, the essential document to enable us to officially work in the United States of America. To obtain this we both had to officially apply to emigrate to the USA. I did this through the US Consuls office in Liverpool, because I was living and working in Manchester at the time of applying. Colin made his application through the US Embassy in London.
We each had to go through a very extensive selection procedure, and when finally accepted, had to swear an oath of allegiance, hand on heart, in front of the Stars and Stripes, the US Flag. Having obtained our Green Cards, we were then able to take advantage of special fares for immigrants to the USA.
We decided to travel to the States by sea, and booked our passage on the Queen Elizabeth, one of the finest liners afloat at that time. We booked Tourist Class, and I believe that we paid £65 for the one way crossing. Our parents came to see us off at Temple Meads Station, Bristol, and I remember it being a very emotional send off.
For Colin and I, it was the start of a great adventure but we were really setting off into the unknown. We had no jobs to go to, nowhere arranged to live, and only a limited amount of money – I think about £200 each.
We arrived in Southampton late in the afternoon and went on board the Queen Elizabeth, an adventure in itself.
In the early hours of 15th October 1964, the ship quietly slipped out of Southampton Docks and headed down the Solent, past the Isle of Wight, to France, and then on to the Atlantic Ocean and America. At last, our trip had begun, and we really were on our way…