Packing For Eighty Days

Packing for Eighty Days

“Bly had decided that she would take but a single bag, a small leather gripsack into which she would pack everything, from clothing to writing implements to toilet articles, that she might require for her journey; being able to carry her own bag would help prevent any delays that might arise from the interference or incompetence of porters and customs officials.”

In 1889  journalist Nellie Bly  made a decision after reading Jules Verne’s book Around The World In Eighty Days.   She would take a trip around the world like Phineas Fogg and write about it. She would do it in eighty days or less. She suggested the idea to her editor at the New York World. A year later, at 9:40 a.m. on November 14, 1889,  Nellie boarded the Augusta Victoria   and began her 24,899-mile journey.

“As her traveling dress she had selected a snugly fitted two-piece garment of dark blue broadcloth trimmed with camel’s hair. For warmth she was taking a long black-and-white plaid Scotch ulster coat, with twin rows of buttons running down the front, that covered her from neck to ankles; and rather than the hat and veil worn by most of the fashionable oceangoing women of the time, she would wear a jaunty wool ghillie cap – the English-style “fore-and-aft” cap later worn by Sherlock Holmes in the movies – that for the past three years had accompanied her on many of her adventures. The blue dress, the plaid ulster, the ghillie cap: to outward appearances it was not an especially remarkable outfit, but before long it would become the most famous one in all the world.”


Gripsack – a small suitcase or carrying bag that can obviously fit everything one might need. Now remember we are talking the nineteenth century and clothes were bigger. She wasnt bringing leggings and t-shirts.


A two piece traveling garment of dark blue broad cloth  – broad cloth is  a dense, plain weave woolen cloth which is highly weatherproof and hardy.  It was made in several parts of England at the end of the medieval period. Most of my travel clothes are made in China and Pakistan –  probably last week.

White Scotch Plaid Ulster Coat –.Ulster is a long loose overcoat of Irish origin made of heavy material. Scotch plaid is one of the original Scottish tartan patterns. There are so many words here that I love. You would have many adventures wearing a coat described like that.

Jaunty wool ghillie cap – The name was derived from  gille, the Scottish Gaelic for “servant” or a “lad”] In English. This term was especially used to refer to those assisting in deer hunting or fly fishing expeditions in the Scottish Highlands. Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed by the British Army during the Second Boer War, is the first known military unit to use ghillie suits.

There is nothing jaunty about my everything proof hat from Adventure 16 but it does keep out sun and bugs and flattens for easy packing. Wearing something jaunty suggests a whole different kind of trip –motoring through the countryside, lunch with the Gatsbys etc. Jaunty is definitely better.

“She carried most of her money (£200 in English bank notes and gold in total as well as some American currency) in a bag tied around her neck.”

Same. I wear that creepy passport holder in the airport around my neck with foreign and American currency. – mostly so I don’t have to fish around in my oversized carry on  bag to find it quickly.

“On her travels around the world, Bly went through England, France (where she met Jules Verne in Amiens), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo (Ceylon), the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.”

Ceylon is Sri Lanka. Penang is in Malaysia and Singapore is a country. Hong Kong is now China.  I have also spent time in Japan, England and France but I have many more countries to go to catch up with Nellie.

“The development of efficient submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports, though longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and were thus often delayed by several weeks.”

So, one of the first travel blogs?

 “Bly traveled using steamships and the existing railroad systems, which caused occasional setbacks, particularly on the Asian leg of her race. During these stops, she visited a leper colony in China and she bought a monkey in Singapore.

I also have experienced delays and setbacks due to the existing aviation systems. I visited a children’s hospital in Cuba and fed a monkey in the Darian rainforest (even though you aren’t supposed to) in Panama.

“As a result of rough weather on her Pacific crossing, she arrived in San Francisco on the Oceanic on January 21, two days behind schedule. However, World owner Pulitzer chartered a private train to bring her home, and she arrived back in New Jersey on January 25, 1890, at 3:51 p.m.”

“Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her departure” Bly was back in New York. . She had circumnavigated the globe almost unchaperoned.”

So, what are you waiting for?

quotes from Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman.

Fly Safe,


3 thoughts on “Packing For Eighty Days

  1. Love this…I am reading as I start to pack for Tuesday’s departure for London to visit Jason. Don’t think that I will get everything into a single gripsack either. Hope you are well…Happy travels in the New Year. I am really enjoying your blog.

    Best, Kathleen

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