1970 - 1979



Bye Bye, Miss American Guide

For the 1970 series, British West Indian Airways, “the un- heard-of airline,” sponsored the 200-page Let’s Go: Caribbe- an, which covered more than 30 islands, cays, and rocks. This one-hit wonder included special sections on “Hitchhiking Be- yond the 12 Mile Limit,” “Surfing,” and “Rum” and encouraged readers to lose themselves in “an unreal fantasy world of escap- ist, sun-and-sea fun and adventure.” In the meantime, Publish- ing’s mainstay, Let’s Go: Europe, clocked in at 384 pages. Its solid green cover easily wins the award for least creative of all time.


Hot Dutton Issues

In 1971, Let's Go: Europe marked a significant milestone as the first edition published and distributed by EP Dutton. The book expanded to 496 pages and a price of $2.25. It included maps of hitchhiking routes and nine cities, along with advice on drug use in the Netherlands. New coverage was added for Hungary and Finland, and the saunas of Stockholm were vividly described. After the 1971 edition, Let's Go returned to its original location at 4 Holyoke St, joining the rest of HSA.


Team Huddle

The 1972 edition of Let's Go: Europe saw the return of Eastern European and North African countries that were previously excluded. EP Dutton offered a guaranteed advance on royalties for the first time on the 50,000 copies produced. Frank "Pancho" Huddle, Jr., the Editor, along with Assistant Editor Peter Wilk and 19 Researcher-Writers, formed one of Let's Go's first formal book teams.

Huddle added seven countries and 208 pages to the 13th edition, increasing the price to $3.25. The bookteams' process involved RWs sending regular batches of copy from the field to Cambridge, where the Editor and AEs transcribed and edited the content.

The 1972 series also brought back Let's Go: The Student Guide to the United States & Canada, researched by 40 students and featuring budget tips for all 50 states, Canada, and information on drug use. Sadly, it was later discontinued.


Thumb’s Up

In its historic debut, Let’s Go’s long-time thumb logo—originally a reference to hitchhiking, but later used to recommend sights and establishments—graced the dark-blue cover of Let’s Go: Europe 1973. After two years of going large, the guide slimmed down to 672 pages but added coverage of the USSR. Production ran two months behind schedule as HSA trusted The Harvard Crimson (for the first and last time) to typeset the finished text. This year, the price also went up to $3.95.


A Jolly Good Idea

Price and page count remained constant for the 1974 edition, whose cover was now blushed red. (It returned to blue for 1976.) Perhaps to atone for its typesetting fiasco, The Crimson ran a glowing review that declared Let’s Go superior to Frommer’s.


Region for the Stars

For 1975, Let’s Go: The Student Guide to Europe transformed into Let’s Go: The Budget Guide to Europe as those who had worshiped the early guides entered middle age and Let’s Go increasingly wooed the entire budget travel universe. Despite that fact, its cost rose again to $4.95.


Meet the Press

To this point, Let’s Go had published multiple travel books other than the flagship Europe guide, but they were all one-off events. It wasn’t until 1976 and the advent of Let’s Go: Britain & Ireland that a new project became a permanent member of the Let’s Go family. It came to be over dinner in a university dining hall. 


Congrats, You Have Twins!

Britain & Ireland blew away Dutton’s sales expectations and left them drooling for more. The publisher even requested the use of the thumb logo on separate guides to Asia and Latin America compiled by researchers from the Council on International Educational Exchange, but the HSA Board of Directors vetoed the proposal. Meanwhile, Let’s Go: Europe 1977 returned to a red cover and a hefty 704 pages.


L(ow-C)ost in translation

By the time Ryan left Dutton in 1978, the series had added a second new title, Let’s Go: France. With a back cover devoid of advertisement for the first time, the orange Let’s Go: Europe 1978 ordered readers to “take us along [or suffer through an unspeakable agony of longing and desire for the book you left behind].”


Bye Bye, Miss American Guide

Confidence and resources (in the form of able writers and editors) were so strong that Let’s Go: Italy was put into production within months of the appearance of France; in early 1979, this third Let’s Go regional guide appeared. Still, no upstart regional guide challenged the 752-page blue goliath of Let’s Go: Europe 1979 for pack supremacy. The next year’s 1980 edition was tinged turquoise and inspired The Boston Globe to call Let’s Go “the Bible of the budget traveler.” It was also the first guide developed from HSA’s new home under Thayer Hall B in Harvard Yard.