A friend once said to me, “Why should I go to Europe? You go, and then I’ll look at your pictures.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s almost as illogical as saying, “Rather than eating a meal, I’d prefer to have you describe food to me.” There are some things that just have to be experienced personally, and travel is one of them.
That’s how I feel about it, anyway, but I’ll admit that I enjoy traveling, and I realize that there are people who don’t. In an effort to see their perspective, I’ve listened to their complaints and tried to analyze their apathy or antipathy. The reasons for not traveling seem to boil down to these three points.
1. The Hassle: Over the last couple of decades, the airline industry has done everything in its power to insure that passengers have an unpleasant experience. Well, not everything — they have not yet resorted to public floggings of its customers, but when they do, you can be sure that they will charge extra for it.
Yes, “airline travel” is a synonym for “hassles”, but there are other inconveniences, too. If one is contemplating travel abroad, getting the appropriate visa(s) or innoculations can be a pain. And lost luggage or a hotel desk clerk with no record of your reservation could have been avoided by simply staying home.
2. The Expense: There is no denying that it can be costly to travel. However, shopping online for bargains has made it possible to visit other parts of the world without surrendering the proverbial “arm and a leg”. In some instances you can get a week in a four-star hotel for an arm and only part of your leg — and breakfast is included!
An even thriftier option is to stay with friends or relatives. Bear in mind that after a few days of exposure to them, it’s possible that the savings won’t seem worth it due to #1 above. You’d heard a rumor that Uncle Edwin had been institutionalized; now you discover that his “quirks” run in the family. Even though your lodging is free, there’s something a little unsettling when your hosts lock you in at night.
3. The Unfamiliar: This doesn’t get mentioned very often by non-travelers, but I suspect that it’s an important factor in their preference for staying home. We all tend to know what we like, and like what we know. In other words, we are comfortable with the familiar, so the unfamiliar makes us uncomfortable.
Having to get up at some ridiculous pre-dawn hour to be on a tour bus is not part of most people’s routine. Trying to make yourself understood by a waiter who does not speak your language is challenging, especially when your phrase book doesn’t include a translation for, “I did not order brains”. You finally figured out how the TV remote in your den works, and now you have to figure out this train schedule?
With those three strikes against it, why would anyone want to step out of his or her comfort zone? No, really — I’m asking. For you, what makes travel worth the inconvenience and expense? Or, if you feel as my friend does, what was it that made you decide to stay on your couch?