As the summer winds down, I’m sure many of us are packing for a last vacation trip. The woman traveler can pick up some 19th century women’s travel and health tips from Tropical trials. A hand-book for women in the tropics.
With a cover featuring a gilded umbrella, palm trees, pyramids, and a list of the many tropical places one could travel in the late 19th century, including China, Burmah [sic], India, Melanesia, and Egypt, Tropical trials is a definitive travel guide for English women heading to exotic destinations.
While my travel essentials include sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a book, ladies in 1883 had exhaustive suggestions for traveling in comfort. Essentials include mosquito curtains, punkahs, an umbrella –silk with a cotton cover– and goggles to fight glare, dust and even “eye-flies.”
Tropical trials also includes remarks on diets (how to make a water filter), domestic economy (how to navigate a bazaar and hire a native chef), and how to treat simple maladies (including giddiness, nervousness, and sea-sickness). Trials particularly shows colonialist bias through its suggestions for the management and rearing of children in the tropics (including its warning against children acquiring Native Habits).
If you’re feeling up to traveling 1883-style, peruse the many suggestions, anecdotes, hints, and general remarks of Major Hunt below or follow this link to read Tropical trials. A hand-book for women in the tropics.
If you’re looking for the man’s guide to the tropics, Major S. Leigh Hunt and Alexander S. Kenny wrote On Duty under a Tropical Sun, also available via the Medial Heritage Library. The authors suggest that while each book are complete travel guides, On Duty especially addresses men’s issues while Tropical Trials is best suited for women.
Flip through the pages of Tropical trials below!