Thomas Cook Boeing 767 (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 31 August

5 people who changed the world of travel forever

Meet the brave, the bold and the bonkers trailblazers of travel

Thomas Cook (1808-1892): Package prince

In 1841 a Baptist minister from Derbyshire arranged a bespoke train trip between Leicester and Loughborough for a group of temperance supporters. It was the first ever organised tour. Cook went on to arrange many more (and more exotic) trips, catering to the increasing number of people with wanderlust. And in 1874 he launched the ‘circular note’, forerunner of the travellers cheque. While independent travel is easier now, Cook’s template still works: according to the Office for National Statistics, in 2012 over 40% of British travellers purchased a package trip.

Collection of postcards (Shutterstock)
Collection of postcards (Shutterstock)

Emanuel Herrmann (1839-1902): Postcard pioneer

In 1869 this Austrian economist proposed using envelope-size cards to convey short messages quickly and cheaply. The postcard proved the ideal format – especially after the ‘divided back’ style was introduced in 1902, leaving the reverse free for a picture. Now, though, the postcard is in decline: in a 2013 Skyscanner survey, just 6% of respondents reported sending them.

Hotel beds, Prague (Shutterstock)
Hostel beds, Prague (Shutterstock)

Richard Schirrmann (1874-1961): Hostel honcho

The birth of youth hostelling can be dated precisely: 26 August 1909. Teacher Schirrmann had taken some pupils on a hike in Germany’s Bröl Valley. They got caught in a storm and sheltered overnight in a classroom – where Schirrmann has the idea that schools could offer accommodation in the holidays. The first hostel opened in Altena in 1912; by 1913 there were 83; by 1931, 2,600. Today, there are 4,000-plus Hostelling International hostels, plus thousands of independents and boutiquey ‘poshtels’, for those after more than a mat.

Pulling a suitcase (Shutterstock)
Pulling a suitcase (Shutterstock)

Bernard Sadow (1925-2011): Lord of luggage

The wheel was invented around 3500 BC, but it took several millennia for someone to attach them to suitcases. Then vice president of US Luggage, Sadow saw some wheeled skids at an airport and had a lightbulb moment. By 1970 a prototype had been designed; 18 months later wheelies were rolling off shelves. Travellers’ arms rejoiced (though not so much their newly bashed ankles...).

Elephant and mountain (Shutterstock)
Elephant and mountain (Shutterstock)

Norman Carr (1912-1997): Ecotourism inventor

Carr, formerly an elephant control officer in Rhodesia, shot a lot of animals. But in 1950 he wondered if villagers living amid wildlife might make money out of protecting rather than culling it. He built a few rondavels, brought in paying tourists – and African ecotourism was born. Carr went on to set up national parks in Zambia, and train guides and rangers. And he pioneered the walking safari in the Luangwa Valley, liberating travellers from vehicles so they could truly feel the bush.

Main image: Thomas Cook Boeing 767 (Shutterstock)