School of Cultural Studies and Humanities

Post-Covid Travel Dreams: Could the Overland Route of the 60s and 70s inspire your next trip?

Third year BA (Hons) History student, Tara Krishan has combined her love her travel with dissertation writing, she shares with us her research journey so far. 

Tara Krishan

Although the global pandemic has pretty much halted any of the travel plans we once had, it has definitely made us appreciate going abroad a lot more and has left many of us dreaming about our next trip. For my dissertation, I have been looking at people’s past travel plans during the 1960s and 70s, which has certainly inspired me…

Combining travel with dissertation writing?

As a final year student, I am now in the last few months of writing up my dissertation. This time last year I remember finding it almost impossible to choose a topic to dedicate an entire year of my life on! After months of debating, I finally chose to use my love for travelling and write my dissertation on the Overland Route or ‘Hippie Trail’ to the East, which flourished in the post-colonial travel era. This was a route which enabled people to travel through countries like Turkey, Afghanistan, India and Nepal – which all seemed impossibly ‘exotic’ to a young Westerner. 

As part of my project, I was really keen to communicate with people from around the world and hear their experiences, first-hand, so I decided to conduct my own research using a Facebook Group called the Hippie Trail. I created a questionnaire on Microsoft Forms for people to fill out about their experiences journeying through the East and I focused the questions on themes I wanted to discuss in my work, for example, “how do you think gender shaped your experience of travel?”. The questionnaire was well received; I then narrowed down the responses to three men and three women who I wanted to interview (virtually, of course!).
Interviewing individuals from all around the world, including from Europe, New Zealand and Australia has been such a fantastic and rewarding experience. It has allowed me to gain an insight into how travel has changed and developed over the years, whilst giving my interviewee’s the chance to candidly share their fond memories of travelling through the East. It has also taught me how to successfully conduct my own research by using oral history, which I hope will add so much more depth to my work.
Curious to know more about the Overland Route? Read the facts below…
  • The Overland Route could be travelled on busses and coaches that were established by travel companies, such as Top Deck Travel, which took you all the way to Australia from London! 
  • The Eastern part of the world, for many young people, was seen as an ‘escape’ from western conventionalism, as part of the 60s counterculture was the desire to reject mainstream society and immerse yourself in something different – hence its nickname the ‘Hippie Trail’.
  • This ‘something different’ came in variety of forms in the East: culture, transport, religion, local people, food and even drugs!
  • You could also plan the journey yourself and hitch-hike your way to the East. This type of spontaneous travel was inspired by famous novelist’s, such as Jack Kerouac,  who wrote of his experiences ‘back-packing’ through America, in his book ‘On the  Road’
  • This was a very low-budget form of travel, where you could essentially travel through the East for sometimes almost a whole year, on around $500! How unfortunate that this would not be possible today...

How has interviewing people helped my study? 

  1. By interviewing three men and three women, my study analyses different perspectives of travelling through the East, as all of my participants had completely different journey’s and travelled for different reasons. 
  2. From a female perspective, I have learnt that travelling through the East proved extremely difficult in some countries, where you were often taken advantage of. It has been interesting to hear how my participants faced dangerous situations with such resilience. 
  3. Holding interviews has also allowed me to understand the true impact that travelling through the East for these young people (who all began their journey between the ages of 21-25), has had on them their entire life, as it has continued to fuel their love for travel!

Although the future of travel is very uncertain and the Overland Route no longer exists as it was (due to war and conflict in the Middle-East), my study continues to inspire me to travel East and look for new ways to explore the world, just like the thousands who travelled overland in the 60s and 70s. I am extremely grateful for those who have given their time to participate in my research for this study.


More from the blog

By School of Cultural Studies and Humanities
02 Aug 2021
All blogs