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Topic section: Going on the Grand Tour in your gap year?
TOPIC SECTION:
Going on the Grand Tour in your gap year?
Between school and university many young people spend most of a year travelling around the world,
Picture: 01_1890-0056_R38.jpg
Boswell visited all the major sights of Rome, in the company of a Scottish guide Colin Morison, a Jacobite exile.
Credit: NMPFT
 sometimes doing voluntary work, sometimes doing menial jobs to pay their way. In this manner, they can explore new cultures and different ways of life while contributing to the communities they are visiting.

In many respects they are following in the footsteps of wealthy young people in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In those days,

Ancient artefacts and monuments were removed, and an early form of sex tourism developed in Paris, Rome and Naples

 it was the fashion among the rich to visit Italy and possibly Greece to examine the classical buildings and learn more about Latin and Greek civilisation on the so-called ‘Grand Tour’. The impact of this intellectual tourism was not entirely beneficial: ancient artefacts and monuments were removed, and an early form of sex tourism developed in Paris, Rome and Naples (although the English visitors preferred to get drunk – so, no change there). Nonetheless, the tour gave social graces to young people who were not usually academically inclined, and a better education than they would have obtained at
Picture: 01_2003-8312_1131.jpg
Backpackers on a gap year trip often use the crowded trains in India.
Credit: National Railway Museum
 Oxford or Cambridge in this period. For example having been educated at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, James Boswell (then aged 23) set off on a tour of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France in 1764, after reading law at Utrecht.

A new form of educational travel for younger people sprang up in the early 1960s, when former troop ships where refitted as rather basic cruise liners for school trips. Schoolchildren could travel to Scandinavia or the Mediterranean and supposedly learn about different cultures – although the most vivid memory in most cases was of being seasick. At whatever age we travel abroad, and by whatever means, we learn something new, even when we are not consciously studying the local culture.

 
 
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Topic section: Packing our prejudices?
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The package-tour industry has widened people’s horizons and provided affordable holidays for nearly everyone. Has the experience of foreign travel broadened our minds or do we simply take our prejudices with us?  > more

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Topic section: Travelling to save the planet
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The idea that responsible tourism can help to save the environment began in the 1950s. But even eco-tourists have to fly to their resorts and tourism has a big impact on indigenous communities. Is our planet at risk from tourists?  > more
 
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