Travel pain?

Peter Greenberg, the journalist known as “The Travel Detective”, is preparing to launch a new weekly travel program. Some of the publicity he’s creating to generate viewership reached my desk and grabbed my attention. PG writes:

We get it. You’re frazzled. You’re tired and now you’re stuck in line too. The number one mistake I see travelers making is to hit the road without thinking about how they are travelling.”

I’m a big fan of mindfulness. I’m inclined to think that preparing for an upcoming trip adds to one’s enjoyment and that people who delegate all of their trip planning to a travel professional will ultimately pay an additional price: they’ll come away from their trip with a few dim remembrances, not vivid memories that can be reawakened in later years as a continuing source of pleasure and satisfaction.

Peter Greenberg is a true travel expert who provides interesting and useful information. But in his attempt to garner viewers, he said something that  jarred me a bit and prompted this post. Mr. Greenberg promises that his new show will offer “insider secrets” intended to “take the pain out of the process of travel”.

Huh!? I thought that we traveled because it’s fun and enjoyable.

Maybe when Mr. Greenberg refers to the “process of travel” he’s thinking about the time we spend reaching our destination. Maybe the pain he’s referring to occurs during the time we spend aboard planes, trains and buses. I don’t know anyone who relishes an 8-hour transatlantic flight and, indeed, I have had to develop some strategies for avoiding cramps and legs pain. (Hint: go the the bathroom often.)

In my view, sometimes the “getting there” part of the vacation is really the highlight of the trip and the destinations themselves are just an excuse. Consider Robert Louis Stevenson on the back of a donkey has he explored the French countryside. Think of the hundreds of thousands of people who have hiked section of the Camino di Santiago di Compestella. The destination is a nice town with an impressive cathedral, to be sure. It’s crowded and touristy. And although people enjoy achieving a goal — getting there — most of the pilgrims I’ve met there would just as soon still be out there walking and jostling for a place in a restaurant.

Many tours I see advertised seem to involve constant movement from destination to destination (D2D). Maybe the D2D time spent in transit is the “stuck” part of vacations that Mr. Greenberg is referring to. Then by all means, seek ways to reduce D2D.  Don’t cruise to Europe on the QEII, fly there. If possible, get yourself a cozy seat on the Condorde. (Just kidding, I know that both the QEII and Concorde are long gone.)

Another approach that doesn’t involve the mode of D2D transport will in the end cost less and perhaps help us acheive greater satisfaction. It involves rethinking the basic idea of “travel”. It involves minimizing D2D tranport by staying put in one place for awhile.





About Jim Flege

Jim Flege carried out research on phonetic aspects of second-language acquisition and bilingualism at an American university. He moved to Italy after retiring and lives with his Italian wife and their Jack Russell terrier in a small town in central Italy. Jim currently serves as the European Director of the Travel Learning Network, an organization provides educational and cultural immersion programs in Europe. You can reach Jim directly by writing to: director (at) www.travlearning (dot) net
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