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The Definition of a Modern Vintage Travel Girl

These women know how to be stylish, cultural travelers. And so can you! Image from blog.9flats.com.

Vintage girl (n): A woman who is fascinated by certain elements of the recent past, predominantly the time period between 1920 and 1970.

This usually includes an interest in the popular culture of the time – the clothes, music, movies, books, food, and gadgets of an era – more than the social mores or politics.  A common thread for all vintage girls seems to be a gradual immersion in the era of interest. It typically begins with an interest in fashion or music and then spreads out into all areas of life, including travel.

While I’m hesitant to define anyone, there seem to be commonalities among girls who travel in a ‘vintage way’.  These girls are interested in recreating the travel of old – slow, in-depth, in-person (usually photographing or videotaping every moment).  They happily choose the non-express boat, coach or train journey for the chance to see more of the country, taking the time to visit with locals, exploring every nook and cranny of a town (especially its original areas), and trying to stay in the oldest accommodations affordable.

They also often stand out in a crowd of city-dwellers or backpackers. Most vintage girls have a passion for vintage fashion that they carry with them when traveling the globe. This may mean wearing a circle skirt and wedge sandals on a city tour, or donning button-down camp shirts while hiking rainforests instead of t-shirts because, ‘They look nicer and are just as comfortable’. Red lipstick and bobby pins become travel essentials almost as important as walking shoes and a camera.

Traveling vintage-style isn’t always the most practical – breaking into the ruins of a fortress in a circle dress can’t be recommended. But as the clothing choices are usually a bit more conservative and dressy than the norm, it can have some incredible side benefits for the traveler. A vintage girl is often more comfortable in her vintage clothes than she might be if she tried to be ‘fashionable’ while traveling. She’s usually instantly acceptable almost anywhere she goes. And her fashion choices can help open conversations with locals who are either curious about her attire or are impressed by what they perceive as her efforts to look put together and not offend cultural mores.

Vintage travel is travel with flare. Image from tumblr.com.

Vintage travel is travel with flare. Image from tumblr.com.

But while traveling in vintage-inspired (or vintage) outfits is fun, and staying in old buildings is even more fun, vintage travel girls are mostly about exploring the heritage and current culture of a place.

This involves looking for out-of-the-way historical sites with interesting social histories, especially if they pertain to the era that most intrigues her.  It’s looking for the nearest jazz or rockabilly club or swing dance from the moment she lands in a new locale – happy to discover the local variation of something she loves and to meet her international peers and learn more about their cultures by using this mutual interest as a starting point. Every holiday and trip will involve at least one visit to a vintage fair, second-hand shop, or antique market, and usually visits to ancient cities rather than modern ones.

Vintage traveling means becoming the type of traveler who’s always read the history books before going on an adventure and who always wants to learn (or already knows) the most obscure (but interesting) facts about a place. It’s the traveler who finds the most unique souvenirs to carry home. Who photographs anything that seems archaic and historical, from architecture to candy stands. Being a vintage girl traveler involves trail-blazing a path to  tiny abandoned monuments; sweet-talking her way into closed theaters, churches and buildings to take photographs; and insisting on dragging travel companions all over a city’s ‘Old Town’ in preference to clubs, beaches or mountain paths. Most of all, it’s traveling the world in a way that doesn’t just mean viewing a place’s historical sites but also getting a feel – through music, events, theatre, accommodations and activities – for what it was like to live there in a certain time period, maybe during that golden moment that encapsulates the spirit of the place and created its international reputation.

Did I also mention it’s a hell of a lot of fun?

Joanna Farley
Blogging program mentor
Joanna Farley grew up in Crawley, England before immigrating at age 8 to Canada. She was infected with the travel bug at birth by her parents, and began her solo travels the day she finished university. 8 years later, her adventures have taken her to England, Ireland, Spain, Norway, Germany, Holland, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Mexico, as well as to parts of Canada and the United States. Passionate about all things ‘vintage’, Joanna loves wearing red lipstick and dresses from the 1940s while backpacking throughout the globe in search of adventures, new cultural opportunities, and swing dancing scenes. She writes about her attempts to combine all three loves – travel, dance, and vintage fashions – at www.joannaabroad.wordpress.com and as @joannatravels on Twitter.

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