In the late 1950s, everyone was a tourist, and jet travel was an alluring alternative. Not only did nearly everyone have money, and travel provided the opportunity to go exotic places — these days, you’re often billed as a tourist, even for sitting on the sidewalk at 4 a.m. — but no other mode of transportation so readily gave you an immediate view of the world around you, as air travel did back then. And it was hardly just a matter of observing the world from the air. At each destination, travelers could retreat to a hotel room for a night or two, leaving planes and air-conditioned train cars, and even, cruises to their taste.
As one author writes in The Flight Guide, the summer of 1962 marked a turning point in modern travel. Jet travel had been on the rise for some time, but the International Herald Tribune declared, “the true mass of the traveling public, numbering in the tens of millions, is ready to fully participate in the speeded up rapid transit of time.” Travelers were no longer mere travelers, but travelers — and travelers — writ large. And once you were a passenger in a plane or a train, you could go as far as you wanted. Even the Bell-Trans Am line between Los Angeles and San Francisco made comfortable connection trips to European tourist destinations such as Venice and Venice Beach.