Touch the Sky: the Hippie Trail and other forms of alternative tourism
Event Date October 11, 2013 – October 12, 2013
Location – Cardiff Story Museum, The Old Library Trinity St, Cardiff, CF10 1BH
The History Research Unit at the University of South Wales is organising a two-day conference dedicated to the Hippie Trail c.1957-1978 and related forms of alternative tourism.
One of the last great expressions of alternative tourism in the twentieth century, the hippie trail to Morocco, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and other points east, flourished between 1957 (when Jack Kerouac published his influential road narrative On the Road) and 1978 (when the Iranian Revolution closed the land route from Europe to India). North American and European travellers used VW vans, motorbikes and Land Rovers to travel East. Their exploits quickly became a media cliché: in popular consciousness, knowledge of the hippy trail is still based mainly on stereotypical stories and images. Hard facts are more difficult to ascertain. Who were these travellers? What was the catalyst for their journeys? What routes did they take? What forms of transport did they use? What impact did they make on the local population, and vice versa? What was the scale of this movement? What is the enduring legacy of these alternative forms of tourism?
At the end of the conference we intend to hold a round table discussion in which ex-travellers will share their experiences.