Traveling in Europe with Children: 1960s

An American travel writer provided the following suggestions of the clothes to pack for boys on a trip to Euroe. It is a good reflection of how boys from well to do families dressed in the early 1960s.

Here is a basic travel wardrobe, with suggestions and substitutions that make it as applicable to 4-year-olds as to 14-year -olds in warm or cold climates. This list includes the clothes worn when he waves goodbye at the airport or dock.


One tweed or wool flannel topcoat, preferably waterproofed to double as a raincoat. For cold-weather wear, try to find one with an attachable interlining. Be sure that it is light and warm without being overly stiff and bulky. As an alternative for older boys, 1 medium tan, fly-front raincoat, with detachable lining, cotton and nylon, or wash-and-wear dacron and cotton, or poplin.

One cotton poplin waterproofed jacket for general outdoor wear in the country. For younger boys, this is the type of jacket that comes with snow-suit outfits. I'd suggest as plain a one as you can find in either navy-blue or red. For older boys, this sort of jacket generally comes in tan, navy or olive in a dacron and cotton blend.

One suit for boys 4 to 8 in a washable lightweight wool or a wash-and-wear blend of dacron and cotton. Navy or medium or charcoal gray. Short pants, of course. For older boys, a pair of dark gray shorts or long gray trousers and a navy-blue jacket, preferably of the blazer type with brass buttons, can be substituted; this combination is actually more useful.

One lightweight cotton-cord short-trousered suit in blue and white for boys 4 to 10. For older boys, a dark Madras print sport jacket to be combined with charcoal gray long trousers or khaki pants.

Three pairs of long khaki pants for boys 12 and over only. These can be worn with the blue blazer or the cord coat for street wear during the day. For younger boys, substitute 3 pairs of shorts with elasticized sides, for better fit at the waist, in dark gray cotton twill or khaki.

One pair medium-weight washable wool charcoal-gray shorts for boys 4 to 10. For older boys, 1 pair medium-weight washable wool charcoal-gray long trousers as an extra pair apart from the gray trousers-blazer combination.

Six white cotton-and-dacron knit shirts with collar and 2 buttons at the neck, short-sleeved or long-sleeved for younger boys, and 2 white cotton Oxford cloth or drip-dry dress shirts in button-down collar style. For boys 12 and over substitute 2 white cotton-and-dacron knit short-sleeved shirts and 6 cotton Oxford cloth or drip-dry white dress shirts in button-down collar style.

One pair navy blue sneakers, 1 pair brown sandals with rubber soles, 1 pair brown oxfords for younger boys. Waterproof soles can be put on the oxfords, which is easier than taking along a pair of rubbers. The sandals can double as bedroom slippers. For older boys, substitute 1 pair black and 1 pair dark brown leather moccasins, not the camper or the Indian variety, but loafers that can be worn for both country and town wear, day or night; and 1 pair white sneakers. It's worth the expense to have 1 pair or even both pairs of the moccasin-style shoes equipped with waterproof non-slip soles. With the "dress" or "formal" moccasin-style shoes, you can then negotiate your way with ease over rain-slippery cobblestones, across highly polished marble floors, and up rocky low hills. These double splendidly for galoshes (except in snow) and bedroom slippers.

Eight pairs plain white cotton socks for young boys, with turndown tops rather than anklets with elasticized tops. These are for warm weather wear. For fall and winter wear, 4 pairs navy-blue or gray knee socks. For older boys, substitute 4 pairs white cotton crew socks and 4 pairs navy socks if they are planning to wear long trousers. If they are going to wear shorts, the custom in Europe and the British Isles is to wear knee socks, a style which older men, of course, have adopted in many parts of the tropics as well as in many parts of this country for summer wear.

Three or 4 handkerchiefs.

Two navy-blue, or 1 dark red and one navy-blue, knitted ties for younger boys. For older boys, 1 navy blue, 1 dark red and 4 or 5 other ties. No bow ties, please. These are considered pretty silly for boys under 21 in Europe.

Three wool or orlon-and-wool pullover or cardigan sweaters for younger boys. I'd suggest navy-blue,tan and red, and for older boys 1 navy-blue and 1 dark gray sweater.

Two pairs seersucker or cotton pajamas.

One dressing gown-cotton.

One belt for older boys.

Four sets underwear, white T shirts and white cotton briefs or shorts.

2 bathing trunks.

OPTIONAL: Two pairs additional shorts or slacks that will go with the other clothes. If you are planning on riding, blue jeans or long corduroy pants are fine for informal riding. Tennis? Take along a pair of white shorts. No one in Europe would dream of wearing anything but white for tennis.

The type and weight of this wardrobe should be just about the same for the plane as it is for ship travel.

NOTES: Whatever you do, please do not include bow ties, loud or flashy ties, or white buckskin or saddle shoes. White buckskin and saddle shoes are a nuisance to keep clean, and no one abroad appreciates the fad of dirty ones. I've made no mention of hats because hats aren't worn by most European men and by few European boys except those who wear the Tyrolean variety. Ski caps are worn in the winter by boys. Schoolboys wear schoolcaps. A boy old enough to wear long pants should also wear a tie and a jacket for street wear and at restaurants for lunch and dinner.

If you are going in the winter, do remember that you can pick up superlative ski sweaters, mittens and caps in Norway, Switzerland and Austria, where you can also get Tyrolean hats, lederhosen (leather shorts) and magnificent deerskin jackets. England has excellent blazers, coats and raincoats, and England, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France have handsome sweaters (both cardigan and pull-over varieties). But without ever shopping for suspplementary clothes, this list will see your sons conservatively and correctly dressed wherever you go and however long you stay, or, that is, until the clothes are outgrown.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: August 21, 1998
Last updated: August 24, 1999