I love to travel and I’ve done a fair bit of it. Over the years I’ve been fortunate in having traveled toseveral places including Japan, China, Jamaica, Hawaii , Switzerland, Italy, England, Spain, and several islands in the West Indies. Most people , when they retire, say that they will travel more and I was no exception. However, lately, travelling has begun to lose it’s charm.
There are several reasons, primarily the increased security restrictions that have made travelling a chore. I understand that these rules and checks are necessary and I don’t question them; all I’m saying is that they’ve taken away the fun from flying. I used to enjoy getting there- the anticipation, the airport lounge, even the in-flight meals- but not any more. Nowadays, many more people are travelling and the lines to check in get ever longer making us all very surly. By the time I get on the plane the mood is long gone.
The steep jump in prices after the decline of the dollar is another major factor. Even when one is able to afford travel, the pleasure is diluted by how much one has to shell out. Food was always more expensive in Europe but now it has become exorbitant. By the way, on our travels, we’ve always been astounded at the numbers of people who seem to afford even these enhanced prices and throw their money around as if it’s going out of style.
A third reason is the realization that with the Internet and with excellent guide books, the armchair traveler can replicate much of the pleasure of travel. One or two weeks spent in a foreign country give the traveler only an overview , just a taste. For instance in Italy, we went to Rome, Florence and Venicebut , in order to do it properly we would probably have to make at least two or three other trips there. One , Milan , and the Lake District. Two, Naples , and the Italian Riviera. Three, Sicily. But, then what about France and Scandinavia and Holland and Portugal and….
True, one cannot replicate the entire experience of travel , the climate, the ambience and particularly the people merely by reading about it. However, by reading travel books ( not guides) one can vicariously enjoy these pleasures. Reading history books gives perspective, illustrated guides (such as The EyeWitness Guides) and the Internet are a substitute for actually seeing things firsthand and cooking from cookbooks gives us a good idea of the food. I daresay that they actually could result in a more complete picture of a country than a one or two week vacation would.
Which is not to say that I’ve given up on travel. I am going to travel at every oppportunity I can. I want to make at least one more trip to Asia ( Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia), one or two to Europe ( Holland, Belgium and Germany / Scandinavia) , take an Alaska cruise and , of course I want to really see the U.S but, if I can’t , it’s no big deal. I’ll see those places without ever leaving my home.