top of page
  • hbanziger

A - 1 : Travelling Like The Royals

Now that our bags are backed, we wondered who actually invented them. Why do we have the urge to bring a lot of stuff with us when we are on the road? Are we schlepping some of our comfort zone around the globe?

Travel Bags ready in 10 Rue Saint-Victor

The notion of travelling for amusement and exploring is a relatively new concepts. Romans or Chinese did not have the urge to go somewhere to see it. They wanted the world to come to them since they felt their civilised culture was superior whilst people outside their realm were regarded as barbarians (talking barbar barbar - a language nobody could understand).

A Noble Person travelling with his or her Entourage and Body Guards

Until modern times, i.e. the renaissance, people only travelled for purpose. Nobles and kings to visit their domaines and to make sure everybody knew that they were the boss. They travelled with their entire house hold which gave us the beautiful tapestry from Flanders decorating today’s museums. Blue blooded people wanted to feel in their own home wherever they were. They all had giant chests for their stuff which their servants had to lug around.

Merchant Ships leaving the Harbor of Genoa - undated painting from the Middle Ages

The 2nd type of people who travelled were merchants. They were the ones who brought the world’s exotic goods to the fellows who did not want to travel. So they travelled lightly. Usually, they carried a saddle bag full of silver and letters of credits, a few written recommendations and the absolute minimum of what they needed to survive. Having money allowed them to buy what they needed on the spot - don’t forget that personal hygiene was not high on the list thus did not take space in their saddle bag. In addition, merchants wanted to bring stuff back so they needed all the transportation capacity available to them for their merchandise.

Pilgrims on the Road - mostly walking

The third group which travelled where pilgrims. Often sick, they walked to holy sites like Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, Jerusalem, Rome in order to prey for recovery or to get holy water for the cure. Having no money, they had to walk and thus could not carry even a small roller - back packs did not exist at the time. Pilgrims travelled with a few copper coins in their pockets and - when necessary - begged their way to their destination.

When Europe’s upper class started travelling for fun in the 19th century - after the Napoleonic wars had ended in 1815 -, guess who they imitated. The royals and nobles! And guess who made their travel chests? Companies like Louis Vuitton who are still in the luggage business today, albeit with lighter version of their initial product

Louis Vitton's Travel Kit for Crossing the Atlantic on one of the Ocean Liners

And guess which company supplies today the saddle bags which Venice’s merchants used to travel to the Levant? Bags which enabled them to always sleep with their precious contents? You are right, it is an Italian company called Gucci

Gucci's Saddle Bag for the truly precious Items you want to keep close to your body

Interesting how history rhymes in today’s fashion. And unless we look closer where many of the designs we love come from, we would never know. So let’s travel like Royals and Merchants and enjoy it

5 views0 comments


bottom of page