Holiday. Travel. Two words which often conjure up visions of bumper to bumper traffic, never-ending airport security lines, and getting stranded for the night in a strange town. But it’s the holidays, so we make our treks near and far for precious moments with family and friends.

To make a journey as enjoyable as possible, I have a few rules I try to live by when it comes to holiday travel:

  1. Travel light.
  2. Take care of yourself.
  3. Know your stuff.

With Founders’ Day behind us and Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I couldn’t help but start thinking about what getting home for turkey dinner would have looked like for any of the women at Colby College in the 1870s. How well would my rules have translated in the beginning years of Sigma Kappa?

Travelling light: I almost never, ever check bags when flying. It saves time on both ends of the trip, saves money and even if you’re not flying, trying to lug a heavy bag from point A to point B can be the last thing you want to do. It’s much more fun to have enough room in your bag to bring home souvenirs! Trust me, you will survive without that 3rd pair of heels and no one will notice if you wear an outfit twice.

However, I’m not sure I would have been so lucky to get away with my usual carry-on system in 1870s.

Instead of something like this (like the Sigma Kappa Foundation luggage tag?)…

...I would have something more like this…

The trunk would have to be big enough to fit all the heavy dresses with underskirts, bustles, and corsets that I would need for various occasions. Imagine trying to hoist this into the overhead compartment!

Taking Care of Yourself: While I love travelling, I’d be the first to admit that it can be stressful. And when you become stressed, it can be easy to take it out on the ticket counter clerk or passenger next to you. So, help everyone by staying calm and keeping yourself entertained. While some of my favorite travel entertainment like listening to music or catching up on the latest movies on a transatlantic flight would not have been possible in the 1870s, I think some of my other favorites would have fit in just fine.

I’ve been knitting for about two years now and find it so relaxing when sitting on a plane, train, or long car ride. Knitting certainly would have been something the ladies at Colby College could have done, and it would have been especially useful to make some stockings for the cold Maine winters!

You can never go wrong with reading, although it can be hard to concentrate in a sea of announcements and multiple conversations within ear shot. But any good Sigma Kappa knows how much our Founding Sisters took their literature seriously. I find reading magazines, especially the juicy celebrity gossip ones, a guilty travel pleasure, and I was happy to discover that Mary Low or Ida Fuller would have been able to enjoy Harper’s Bazaar, published since 1867, on a train or stage coach ride.

Knowing your stuff: No doubt travel can be complicated, especially when going long distances or involving multiple modes of travel. I have found that it is worth a little planning before you leave to not only make things easier for you, but also easier for those around you. You do not want to be the person holding up a long line of weary travelers because you’re trying to bring your entire bathroom cabinet through security or you don’t have your driver’s license out at the car rental counter. While you can never prepare for everything, coming up with a simple logistics plan can make the difference. So, map out how to get from the station to the hotel  before you’re standing confused on a subway platform, check-in for your flight before you get to the airport, and please, keep that big bottle of shampoo in your checked bag or better yet, at home. While travel has certainly changed drastically since the 1870s, I think Sigma Kappa’s founders would agree that a little planning and organization can go a long way. Here’s to a safe and happy Thanksgiving with stress-free travels wherever you are going!

So, what are your travel “rules to live by”? How would you have coped if traveling in the 1870s?

For more info on life in the 1870s, check out the Victoria and Albert Museum’s archives at

Know your stuff before you fly this holiday season:

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5 Responses to Over the river and through the woods…

  1. Haha! LOVED LOVED this post! It’s so fun to imagine what our ladies of SK would do in various situations. Great rules all around, too. I get cranky taking the bus from Boston to CT with the crowds and people all in your personal space, even though it’s only 2 hours. So glad that kindles & iPods exist nowadays! :)

    • Alisa Jordan Alisa Jordan says:

      Can you imagine Boston to CT on a stagecoach? I guess you might have had a little more space, but bus smell vs. horse smell? That’s a toss up. Hope your travels were stress-free if you had to make them!!!

  2. Kelli says:

    A wonderful article by one of our wonderful EAC sisters! <3 Great work, Alisa! I read – and enjoyed! – the whole article before I realized who wrote it. What a great surprise it was to see your name and photo at the end! You make the EAC proud!!!

    • Alisa Jordan Alisa Jordan says:

      I really have to give the EAC so much credit for being a great influence on my life when I lived abroad and inspiring me to keep travelling. I miss you, Kelli!!! Hope you’re well :)

  3. Anne Boodheshwar says:

    What a fun thought…traveling by myself, maybe, traveling with the kids and having to return to the days where they couldn’t watch a movie or listen to there music…no thank you!lol

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