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Are historical questions about travel allowed? By historical questions about travel, I am not talking about visiting historical sites, but questions on travel requirements, logistics, etc. of the past. I am not sure if they are acceptable. On the one hand, they are 100% about travel, but on the other hand, they are of marginal utility to travelers today and are far more useful for historians.

Example questions:

  • In 1950, how long could a US citizen stay in Mexico visa-free?
  • In what year was the first UK passport issued?
  • My uncle told me that he had to fill out a form when he crossed Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin in 1985. What form did Western visitors have to fill out?
  • I found this old 1937 railroad ticket in my grandmother's jewelry box. In the corner, someone has stamped "t.r.s. discount". What was a TRS Discount?
  • How many times a day did the Staten Island Ferry run in 1973?
  • What if the question wasn't historical because it was asked by someone traveling faster than speed of light? – Nean Der Thal Jul 31 '18 at 2:04
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    I would suspect many of those would be voted to be moved to history.SE....it'll be interesting to see. – Mark Mayo Jul 31 '18 at 2:59
  • @NeanDerThal we have worldbuilding.SE for those kinds of questions :) – JonathanReez Jul 31 '18 at 16:37
  • Example of a previously asked question which was closed as off-topic: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/115472/… (arguably "too broad", but I thought it was interesting. It got reposted on aviation SE and barely accepted there, though it might've been interesting to get more of a travel perspective than an operational perspective on it.) – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Aug 6 '18 at 21:28
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    My rule of thumb would be: if the people who frequent travel.se would be more likely to give a good answer to the question than the people who frequent history.se, it might be OK here. – Charles Aug 13 '18 at 16:17
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The traditional SE model is to pose questions about real-world problems and attract practical answers from experts. But what is a "real-world problem" on, say, SciFi varies from what one on, say, Network Engineering would be.

There are people, myself included, for whom travel itself is an interest, beyond just the destination. I may choose a particular mode of transportation or a particular route or a particular carrier to experience something new, or try to imagine something I've read about. As such, learning about the travel experience in a historical perspective can be informative and enriching even if it does not have a direct present-day application.

But that said, I do not want this site to lose focus. It could devolve into a "fanning" or "spotting" site full of obscure questions of the narrowest of interests (we have already pushed some operational and historical airline questions on Aviation.SE, but there is no equivalent for other modes). It could devolve into daydreaming about some or other supposed "golden age" someone just read about in a column, and the myths about flying clippers or ocean liners or private Pullmans or zeppelins. It could devolve into discussions about political history, international relations, war and conflict, and trade. At a point, we become a site about "fun facts" and obscure trivia, where the questions asked are only of interest to the person who asked, what we used to term "too localized" in the old closure system.

Of the example questions, only #2 seems a slam-dunk to me in terms of topicality, as a good answer will explain the origins of the passport as an internationally recognized document, providing background that helps enrich the travel experience. Question #1 or #5 might be answered well by describing how the service might have changed over time due to economic or political constraints or changing travel patterns. Questions #3 and #4 I would consider useless trivia, in the absence of other context, and vote to close.

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Added: I have in the past answered various questions that might be of interest to travelers at some level on History.SE. I think they all still belong there, even though I no longer participate on that Stack, and would have flagged them for migration had they been asked here:

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I think that some historical Travel questions, as per your definition, will inevitably span the scope of both Travel and History. Therefore, they should belong on either site. Go ahead and ask away.

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Those kind of questions are on-topic provided they don't stray too far into History.SE territory. I'd say anything from the 20th century is okay, while anything older would be off-topic.

  • I think that we should use this as a guideline, but not a rule. since it is possible for a question to be on-topic on multiple sites. E.g. Star Wars is on-topic for both Sci-Fi/Fantasy.SE and Movies.SE. – Thunderforge Aug 7 '18 at 20:23

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