Three Reasons to Avoid Travel

A cruise doesn't have to be expensive.

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?

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6 responses to “Three Reasons to Avoid Travel

  1. A big part of travelling for me is about engulfing myself in a different reality for a time. You get so used to your environment and the way things are at home that you forget that people are living completely differently in other places. I always come home inspired somehow after a trip and with a different perspective of the world. I’ve never regretted spending money on travelling. Experience is so much more valuable than a new flatscreen tv.

  2. For those who prefer to merely look at photos of someone else’s travels, I heartily recommend tobytobiko’s images, found on his blog called Shanghai Alley. I’ll put up a link soon…

  3. Travel abroad enables one to be helpful to friends, as in “No one goes to Portofino any more. It’s been over since the ’80’s” or “If you can break away from that dreadful tour group and get to Xining, I can recommend this marvelous noodle shop that makes the best Gan Ban. It’s just off the People’s Park which is a must-see.”

    As far as the hassle, the expenses, and the unfamiliar, those often make the best stories. The serendipitous finds, the people you meet, and how much learn about yourself turn a visit into an adventure.

  4. Great point about hassles sometimes making for great stories. In looking at some of the posts I’ve put up on the topic of travel, they aren’t all rapturous, that’s for sure.

    Your imagined quotes from travel snobs are pitch-perfect, too. Thanks, Herb!

  5. This conversation brings to mind a Tim Cahill quote I like: “An adventure is never an adventure when it’s happening. Challenging experiences need time to ferment, and an adventure is simply physical and emotional discomfort
    recollected in tranquility.”

  6. That’s a great line — “physical and emotional discomfort recollected in tranquility.”

    Fortunately, there are also those experiences on the road that don’t require a time delay to be appreciated. A whale breaching, light streaming through a cathedral’s rose window, an outdoor cafe table on a warm evening — those may not qualify as adventures, but they can be enjoyed immediately.

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