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Great escape

When Europe was still “a big adventure”

The 1960s: “a glorious time of freedom and discovery”

The sixties was “the best decade for travel”, says Hilary Bradt in The Daily Telegraph – but it was not for the faint of heart. After World War Two, in a bid to protect the pound, the government limited the amount of cash you could take abroad to just £25. In the early 1960s restrictions were relaxed, but in 1966 Harold Wilson tightened them again, bringing in a £50 limit. There were ways around it, of course. A friend’s mother used to send £5 notes, hidden inside Knorr soup packets, to a prearranged foreign address. The tin foil of the soup packet bamboozled Post Office X-rays.

But for the young and adventurous it didn’t matter at all. We hitchhiked around the world on a shoestring and slept for free on the flat roofs of hotels. We went to Greece on the train, travelling conventionally by day, and making our luggage boxes into beds at night. Brian Hughes, an enterprising Oxford graduate, would rent entire train compartments to transport youngsters from London to Athens. Between the austerity of the fifties and the guidebooks of the seventies was a “glorious time of freedom and discovery”. Back then, “even a holiday in Europe was a big adventure”.