A Vintage Guide To Enjoying Your Summer Vacation

Whip out your bell bottoms and join us as we reminisce on mail-order vacation homes, lunar module-inspired camping shelters, and more. Happy Memorial Day!

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You’d be surprised at how little summer getaways have changed over the past several decades. Sure, people these days can’t bear to leave their smartphones at home, camping mats have gotten increasingly sophisticated, and some cooking pots are even capable of charging various gadgets, but we’re still a long way from camping on the moon instead of in the woods.

Then again, vacations serve as a break from the real world, so perhaps it’s only fitting that we immerse our summers in nostalgia for awhile longer. When reminiscing about our most idyllic getaways, we have a tendency to treasure the ones that took place on beaches without laptops, by poolsides without e-books, and in cabins that weren’t supplied with Roombas and plasma TVs. But if you’re too young to remember those technology-free days, a peek into our archives should give you some idea of what they were like.

People didn’t always haul trailers into the woods. During the 1920s, vacationers had to prepare their little cars for “auto camping” by installing a detachable wooden trunk to the back of the vehicle. A wooden plank on the sides of the car would hold the tent in place.

Our relentless trailer coverage began about twenty years later. In 1946, we taught readers how to build their own compact plywood trailer, which cozily accommodate two adults and two small children. By the early 1970s, you could expect the premium trailers to come with a stove, a sink, and a refrigerator. Vacations in these vehicles were a far cry from the days when we subsisted on campfires and took baths in woodland streams.

Not everyone enjoys spending their summers out in the woods and on the road, though. For those who preferred the great indoors, we suggested mail-order leisure homes that could be assembled in half a day (just in case you wanted to build something slightly more challenging than a tent).

Click through our gallery to read more about auto camping, 1970s camping trailers, and more vacation gear from our archives.

This article was originally published on August 5, 2011.-Eds.

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