Top 15 Non-PC (and would cause a Twittergeddon today) Travel Posters of the 20th Century

The Orient Express.  Pan-American Airlines.  The Queen Mary.  These were the glory days of travel, when planes were for the super rich, mighty sailing vessels crisscrossed the world’s oceans carrying the super rich and everyone in steerage, and trains represented the fastest travel alive, and most comfortable overland if you were super rich.  Of course, before the 1960’s and iPhone 5, getting onto Google images and Expedia were a difficult venture, given the lack of 4G at the time.

So, how were our forefathers and subservient foremothers supposed to know where and how to travel?  Well via the best travel posters of the era, of course!  National Geographic wasn’t sending around photographers to the far corners of the globe, so artists were drafted to conjure up the most enticing and of course accurate depictions of far away, exotic lands that screamed adventure and leisure.  Of course, most of the traveling clientele at the time were your European and American 1%’ers, assisted with the power of their respective currencies and easy access across borders due to the fondly remembered days of colonialism.

And it is that last aspect that weighed most heavily on the depiction of the world’s most sought after locales for travelers.  Nowadays, we’ve democratized travel so any fool can hop on a 777 at Dulles and soar over to Guatemala, Angola, Thailand, Cuba, Austria, you name it.  However, back then the super wealthy needed more than just a reason to set foot in another place for the sake of satiating curiosity.  So, why not experience that “White Man’s Burden” for yourself and live like a colonial lord for a week or two!  Now that’s a golden marketing campaign for the 30’s.  Without further ado, I present to you the 15 most inappropriate, non-politically correct (in today’s overly politically correct world) travel posters that may or may not reflect how racist Americans (and for those living south of the Potomac, still are) and Europeans were during the first half of the 20th century.

[All photos courtesy of]

1. Palestine

Not sure what the Arab League, PLO, Iran, and everyone else in the Arab world is complaining about, the place looks great!

2. South Africa – What’s Cooking?

I know the country was about to go all-in on Apartheid during the time of this poster (made during the late 1950s), but even I have standards.  Not touching this one.  Ok fine…insert Penn State joke here.

3. New Mexico and the Arizona Rockies

Not that bad?  You should have seen the “Come Visit Wounded Knee!” poster by TWA.  No casino in the world makes up for this one.

4. Nord Africains

Yes, that might be the Michelin Man’s North African cousin.

5. Hong Kong

Before the world’s longest escalator located on Hong Kong Island, apparently the best way for any Westerner to see the British “Pearl of the Orient” was on the shoulders of these fine fellows.

6. Egypt – Sphinx

I can’t help but laugh, I apologize.  And no, this wasn’t used in lead up to the Cairo Speech.

7. Air Afrique

Just remember France, not too long ago it was YOU Iraq-ing all over the world.

8. Visit India – Indian State Railways

You show this picture to people now they might think its an intelligence picture of the Haqqani network on the Af-Pak border.  Again, the good old days…

9. Escape to Asia

One word, one continent, one country, one people, one religion, one statue, one…

10. Phillip Island

I actually really liked this one and it wasn’t going on this list until I realized the first two things you get out of this poster if you knew nothing about Phillip Island are: 1) apparently there are (happy) penguins living there and 2) the first activity mentioned is “Shooting”.  World Wildlife Federation was quickly on the case.

11. Air India

Not the worst of the bunch, although the Caucasian skinned characters wouldn’t exactly get past the fact-checkers.

12. Africa By Air

Because no Westerner would dare venture Africa by Ground!

13. London – Air India

And you wonder why they lost the Empire.

14. Mexico

Still being used in California actually.

15. British Airways – South America

Because everyone in South America is a happy serape wearing gaucho waiting for the plane of European tourists in order to wave ¡Hola!



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