July 13, 2011

Is traveling a good use of your time?

I keep trying to leave Madison, Wisconsin, and wondering why it never quite happens these days. Today, I ran across "4 reasons traveling is a waste of time," a blog post that Penelope Trunk wrote a couple years ago. It resonated. Especially #3: "People who love their lives don't leave."
Imagine if you were excited to get out of bed every day because you had structured your life so that every day was full of what you have always dreamed of doing. And you were in love with your boyfriend, and your job, and your new handstand in yoga. You love it all—imagine that. Would you want to leave all that behind for two weeks? What would be the point? You'd have more fun at home than away from home. So instead of traveling somewhere, how about figuring out what you'd really love to be doing with your time, and do that? In your real, day-to-day life.
Someone in the comments groused: "You are describing 5% or less of the population."

Today, it was was 67° here, and I took a walk along the lake path...



.... and through a garden....

52 comments:

TosaGuy said...

It's the little things in life that make them good. You don't have to go far to find them either. Tonight, I biked down to the local park for free live music and hanging out with friends. Other than it was 58 in July and I was dressed for 87, it was a perfect evening.

Titus said...

Has anyone noticed that when Michelle Bachmann's husband speaks a purse or pearls or a large bouquet of flowers come out?

Just sayin.

I was for the Iowa gay pledge until I realized that it also banned porn.

Thomas said...

I have a good life, but not good enough to not want to travel.

But I can say that, when I was young, in college (and for me that was a long long time) I had no interest at all in traveling. The people I loved, the things I enjoyed, they were right there with me. Why would I want to go anywhere else?

Boy, was I an idiot.

t-man said...

Is this why there are no plans for an Althouse national meet-up?

As my grandmother got older, she was content to sit on her front stoop and watch the cars go by.

Milwaukee said...

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I traveled. Two years in the Peace Corps was fun. I was a teacher, and even Peace Corps teachers get teacher holidays. (I taught Maths, Physical Education and English.) Then, a decade later, I was a Fulbright Exchange teacher in Essex. I taught Upper and Lower VIth Form Maths, and Vth Form Re-Sits. Living abroad is much more stimulating than just traveling. However, I have no desire to travel abroad anymore. There is something about the peaceful tranquility of one's daily routine.

Who was it who said that a voyage of discovery is not seeing new things, but seeing old things with new eyes? Tennyson's take on this is "All experience is an arch where through gleams that distant world, whose margins fade forever and ever when we move." But that was from Ulysses when he was growing older, and more reflective. (Ulysses, not Tennyson.)

Twain is given credit, although there is no reason to believe he did, say something like "At the end of a life one never hears a person regretting what they did: regret is saved for what they didn't do. So cast off at the bow and hoist the sail and ..." I forget, but since he didn't write any such thing, I don't really need to.

By the way, since I taught English in the Peace Corps, I have been an English Teacher. Since I taught in England, I was an English Teacher, but in a different way.

SteveR said...

To me its like food. Sure you can stay with a certain fare but you will miss a lot that's not hard to experience. Traveling doesn't have to be hard, far or time consuming. Ms Tunk lives in NYC, I believe so her perspective is hardly representative I have to travel quite far to see an ocean, eat good Italian food, or see a first run Broadway play and about a thousand things she can take a cab to see. The difference is I want to do those things, nothing I can do here and she can't there, is anything she thinks is worth leaving her apartment for.

The reason its hard for some to travel is that they are complicated and difficult and want to control things.

traditionalguy said...

Sure the college town atmosphere of intelligent folks from all over and varied cultures is more than enough to satisfy most people.

But travel opens peoples' minds to new cultures and new beauty. So unless the city is a melting pot of intelligent people, like a NYC, then get on a slow speed train and go somewhere new

Just Ontario is a world to learn and it is close.

edutcher said...

For The Blonde, travel is life. Unfortunately, travel today is also expensive, so we're all traveling less.

Glad you're doing something you like these days; you've been a posting fool (in the good sense, of course) recently.

"And you were in love with your boyfriend, and your job"

Well, both of those are true, especially the job - crusader for truth, justice, and better budgets.

Or is it the boyfriend?

In any case, a change of scene never hurts (I do miss the road trips), but, if you're happy, knock yourself out.

PS Thanks for the temp. They're saying mid-80s for us on the weekend, but I'll keep something long sleeved at hand.

Irene said...

As soon as I reach a travel destination, I start thinking about going home. I make lists of things I want to do when I get home, and I realize that I miss big parts of being home. I miss my garden, my yarn closet, and my view of the backyard.

Lately, people--assuming that it's about time for me to "Live for Today"--have asked me why I don't travel to some place that I've never visited. "Why don't you go to Scotland?" Or, "Have you thought about going to New Zealand?"

I'd much rather play with my Scottish and Kiwi yarns at home.

Even a trip to Door County seems like an unreasonable excursion.

rcocean said...

You might feel differently this winter.

Milwaukee said...

Which King Kong movie had the line "You can take an actor or actress all over the world and all they will see is in the mirror in their hands."

Joseph Conrad had a wonderful line about couples who have traveled around the world to have dinner in the Raffles Hotel, and their travel has made as much an impression on them as the stickers on their luggage have on their luggage. The men are still telling the same stale jokes that bored their wives back home, but now to a new audience.

Some hotel chain used to show pictures of elegant rooms while scrolling the names of exotic cities beneath. The message was that if you stayed in their hotel anywhere in the world, you got a room like the one in the picture. My question was why bother? Why not just go to Chicago and watch National Geographic specials on the television.

Synova said...

Supposedly it's important to do new things, go new places, because it stimulates your brain in important ways to have new experiences.

That said, there are usually a whole lot of new experiences that a person can have locally, starting with going to a different restaurant instead of the same ones over and over.

The "rut" that feels so horrible, isn't just a matter of not traveling.

Some people constantly change their garden around, or re-do the bathroom.

Scott M said...

There are such things as everyday adventures. Travel through places you've never been can be one of those things and infinitely worth while.

traditionalguy said...

For a few years after taking a multi port cruise on a Crystal Cruise line ship, I would check out the cams on the website that showed shots taken over the bridge and to port and starboard.

The 2 ships were always docked in a new port somewhere.

Now I just seem to study Madison Wisconsin. probably because I enjoy the Cruise's Social Director so much.

We need another ocean cruise.

Revenant said...

Traveling is a waste of time for me because it involves leaving San Diego County for someplace worse. I.e., anywhere.

The Crack Emcee said...

And you were in love with your boyfriend, and your job, and your new handstand in yoga.

♪♪One of these things is not like the others,...♪♪

bagoh20 said...

I agree entirely. I live in a place where millions come on vacation, and I do love my life. I don't have enough time to do all the stuff I love at home. Traveling does often seem like an interuption of the bliss of my normal life.

That said, there is something about traveling that's exciting and calls you. Just the action of going, not getting there, but the going. I love my work, but many days, on the way to it, I get an overwhelming desire to not turn, and to just keep driving into the desert and beyond. It's the feeling of doing something else, and nothing more, but it's exciting. I love to explore, to drive, to be in motion.

Ankur said...

I don't travel to "get out of the rut". I travel because I enjoy traveling. That's it and that's all.

It's what I like doing and I like every aspect of it, from the planning to the experiences, to the new food, to the differently dressed people - but more than that, I travel for the sake of traveling. The same way as some people enjoy walks in sunny days and through flowery gardens.

pm317 said...

#3: "People who love their lives don't leave."
response to the quoted paragraph:

Take the boyfriend with you! And that #3 is such a gross generalization.

I would not trade my wanderlust for anything, not even for the serene and the beautiful at home. Recently at the Grand Tetons, there is a bend in the road and as you turn, the full wall of the Tetons stares down at you in front as if you are going to collide with it. Simply amazing. I didn't even want to take a picture of it because I wanted to savor the moment over and over again in my mind's eye.

David R. Graham said...

Travel, like everything, has no intrinsic value. It has purpose when needed, as any other implement, but intrinsically it is valueless.

Re-creation is doing something not usually done. Americans travel incessantly, fitfully, so re-creation is not in travel.

Everything knowable comes to one's location as a consequence of one's having birth. And everything that comes to one, regardless of one's location, is worth knowing.

Travel is rarely needed. Usually, but not always, it is a consequence of restlessness. Restlessness is a pernicious, downward-dragging, contracting impulse.

Man need never go outside to see the world nor to learn of it. Travel is deadening unless restful. (For this reason, the dream of "space travel/discovery" is that: delusion.)

Freeman Hunt said...

How bizarre. I read the same old post yesterday. I bet we got there by the same link route through one of her other posts.

The same one resonated with me.

I used to travel a lot more. Now there's so much I want to do at home that traveling seems like a pain. (Plus, with the new pseudo security gropefest at airports, I'm loathe to fly.)

Traveling is a waste of time for me because it involves leaving San Diego County for someplace worse. I.e., anywhere.

I don't know why anyone in San Diego would ever travel. That city is paradise on Earth.

traditionalguy said...

David Graham...Haven't you enjoyed getting to know places you have only read about?

Plus every new area has its own local history. And its own social attitudes.

The USA and Canada are one huge crossword puzzle of new connections and attitudes.

Have you seen Israel? It really opens the mind for reading the Bible stories.

Or maybe the Chilean Miners had a better approach...just get used to one small place.

William said...

I went to Paris a while back. I was very disappointed. The MacDonald's over there charged more for the same value meal. Plus the French fries that came with the meal weren't anywhere near as good as the ones MacD serves right here in the USA. You'd think the French would know how to make French fries. French cuisine is highly overrated. I have found the MacDonald's in America far superior to their overseas namesakes, including the Paris one.

Lem said...

Please Come To Boston - Dave Loggins

Please come to Boston for the spring time.
I'm stayin' here with some friends
And they've got lots of room.
You can sell your paintings on the sidewalk
By a cafe where I hope to be workin' soon.
Please come to Boston.
She said, "No.
Would you come home to me?"

And she said, "Hey, ramblin' boy,
Now won't you settle down?
Boston ain't your kind of town.
There ain't no gold and
There ain't nobody like me.
I'm the number one fan
Of the man from Tennessee."

Please come to Denver with the snow fall.
We'll move up into the mountains so far
That we can't be found.
And throw "I love you" echoes down the canyon
And then lie awake at night until they come back around.
Please come to Denver.
She said, "No.
Boy, would you come home to me?"

And she said, "Hey, ramblin' boy,
Why don't you settle down?
Denver ain't your kind of town.
There ain't no gold and
There ain't nobody like me.
'Cause I'm the number one fan
Of the man from Tennessee."

Now, this drifter's world goes 'round and 'round
And I doubt that it's ever gonna stop,
But of all the dreams I've lost or found
And all that I ain't got.
I still need to lean to
Somebody I can sing to.

Please come to L. A. to live forever.
California life alone is just too hard to build.
I live in a house that looks out over the ocean.
And there's some stars that fell from the sky
And livin' up on the hill.
Please come to L. A.
She just said, "No.
Boy, won't you come home to me?"

And she said, "Hey, ramblin' boy,
Why don't you settle down?
L. A. can't be your kind of town.
There ain't no gold and
There ain't nobody like me.
No, no, I'm the number one fan
Of the man from Tennessee.
I'm the number one fan
Of the man from Tennessee."

DA Munroe said...

That's a poorly written post that was eviscerated by her own comments, probably most effectively by this one.

"People who love their lives don't leave"? People who love their lives don't make any change at all - marry, divorce, get a new job, move house. etc

If you're not into traveling, fine. But don't turn your personal predisposition into some kind of moral virtue. It's not.

jamboree said...

I remember I took a boyfriend to experience the desert once and he sat there looking for what bands were playing in town just like he did at home in SF. Keep in mind at the time, I was just as bandy as he was AND that some of the bands he loved have a LONG history of travel including desert wanderings.

Yeah, people like that *should* stay home. They ruin it for everone else.

Christy said...

I don't know that I've actually been a traveler; I've just always done things in distant locales. Hard to downhill ski at home, or snorkel. Even when simply traveling I usually come up with a challenge. In the south of Spain it was trying to find an olive I liked, in France it was trying the peach melba at every patisserie, in the Keys it was looking for the best Key Lime pie (a key lime napoleon at The Marquesa in Key West) ....

Besides, I'm a history nut - love, love, love museums.

At one point in my 30s I had to make a commitment to spend one weekend a month at home. Except for February. It is such a short month after all. Otherwise life became just a little too chaotic.

Still on the bucket list: go on a search for henges in Scotland, eat my way across Italy, travel the canals in England (ok, it probably won't be as fun as J.K. Jeromes's Three Men in a Boat, but I must try)

I wonder if those of you who prefer to stay home (and I certainly understand the distaste for air travel these days) are better able to compartmentalize than I am. I've always projects at home that are never completely off my mind. Even gardening is always a work in progress, never completed, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I actually take great pleasure from sterile hotel rooms. Nothing in them calls for me to do a thing. I can relax and have fun.

Tim said...

I've been abroad, and it's a terrible place.

james conrad said...

LOL, Ann is a home body, nuttin wrong with that!

Sherwood said...

Travelling to tourist places makes u know the things around you and it makes your mind relaxed.


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edutcher said...

Tim said...

I've been abroad, and it's a terrible place.

Funny, in your picture, you sure look like a guy.

(had to)

Paul Zrimsek said...

If you like traveling, travel. If you don't like traveling, don't travel. In neither case do you owe anyone an explanation.

Sixty Grit said...

It was 67 degrees? It's July - are you freakin' kidding me? It was over 100 here in NC - now that's summer. No wonder you don't like shorts - it never gets warm enough to wear them. Good news is, winter will return in just over a month. Tundra-dwelling commies...

Triangle Man said...

Perhaps you're just in the nesting phase of your relationship. Any urges to get a cat or dog?

Shanna said...

So instead of traveling somewhere, how about figuring out what you'd really love to be doing with your time, and do that?

What if I'd love to be at a beach right now, Pen? Or if I'd love to see a mummy or the Rosetta Stone or a castle? I can't do that in my landlocked state. So buzz off.

Travel is not about hating your life, it's about wanting to see something different. You can bring those people you love and that yoga handstand with you.

Freeman Hunt said...

Now I wake up and think differently. There's a lot of traveling I do like. I like to be able to go to certain museums. I like archaeological sites. I like Mount Rainier, the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, etc. I like seeing historical sites. I like exploring cities.

So maybe I do like travel. Just not at the moment. And not the current state of air travel.

Different day, different thoughts.

Milwaukee said...

William, I can assure you that the French Fries I had in Inverness, Scotland. were excellent, as were the other items from the menu sampled by me and my traveling partners.

Sixty Grit said...

Time traveling is a good use of one's time.

gerry said...

We have six dogs (all rescued or stray) so we cannot easily travel. We haven't traveled for many years.

We enjoy being home. Are we lucky?

KenK said...

Two words: Stockholm syndrome.

Shanna said...

I went to Paris a while back. I was very disappointed. The MacDonald's over there charged more for the same value meal. Plus the French fries that came with the meal weren't anywhere near as good as the ones MacD serves right here in the USA. You'd think the French would know how to make French fries. French cuisine is highly overrated.

This is a parody, right? If you have never had a chocolate crepe on the streets of paris you are missing out, btw!

MadTownGuy said...

People in Hawaii seem to be of this mindset. That's understandable. What I don't get is that when they do travel they like to go to Las Vegas. And they love Spam. Go figure.

wv: azoica. Sounds like Kaho'olawe, where practically nothing grows.

Drew said...

I've often wondered where people who live in paradise go on vacation? Not that Wisconsin is paradise. Politically, it's hell. But I love this state and can't imagine living anywhere else. Oh, sure our Winters are six months long, but the other six months are wonderful.

Class factotum said...

Two years in the Peace Corps was fun. I was a teacher, and even Peace Corps teachers get teacher holidays.

My favorite thing about my time in the Peace Corps was how the PCVs got the local holidays but the PC staff got both local and US holidays. A non-military government job abroad is a fabulous deal.

Joan said...

Ms Tunk lives in NYC

No, Penelope Trunk has lived for some time with "the farmer", out at the farm.

I think it's important to know that Penelope Trunk has Asperger's Syndrome, and her need for consistency and routine, and her discomfort outside of it, are therefore likelier to be more intense than those of people not on the Autism Spectrum.

My son has grown out of so many of his Aspie tendencies that when he does something AS-relatable I have to stop and think, is this because's he's a teenager, or because of the AS? One of his traits, AS-related or not, is devotion to routine. I'd attribute the bulk of Trunk's animosity towards travel on her Asperger's, and the rest on the fact that she does so much of it. It's exhausting.

PatCA said...

I enjoy travel--well, not the traveling part especially now with the TSA--but once I get there, it's always fun doing something new. Dublin, Paris, Park City, Puerto Vallarta, it's always fun to break up routine. I'm going to DC in September--never been there!

howzerdo said...

I don't like to travel. Some say that makes me provincial. So be it. I even work from home much of the time and still I feel no need get away on a plane. I'm content staying close to home. Right now that means tending my tomato plants is an important bullet on the agenda. What could be better?

roesch-voltaire said...

Summer in Madison is bountiful as even the sunset flickering through the trees along Bascom Hill last night caused me to pause and soak it in before I headed for class.But I would not avoid travel to linger here in my comfort I find travel offers a more intense kind of time that bonds my wife and I together as we meet the challenge and the adventure. The adventure of difference, the new scenery, the touching of extended history, the conversations with very different folks, the food, this and more enlivens our mind and senses, opens us up to different perspectives. A simple example --biking through Provence last summer and walking across the two thousand year old Point du Gard is different than reading about the experience in a book, and it is not the same as a traveling on Capitol Trail and sighting deer. Good use of my time, but not for everyone.

Kirk Parker said...

Revenant,

I call, and raise you Puget Sound! (Go ahead and fold now, you can't win...)

Kirk Parker said...

"Cultural differences are superficial."

Oh my. No, what's really superficial here is the thought process of the one making such a claim.

Shanna said...

I'm going to DC in September--never been there!

Have fun! I'm chomping at the bit to take my nephews. My dad thinks they are too little (well, the under 2 one is too little) but I told him they aren't too little for zoo's, dinosaur bones and monuments!

I think it's important to know that Penelope Trunk has Asperger's Syndrome

That makes a huge difference. As not everybody is the same, huge generalizing posts are kind of a waste of time.

Crunchy Frog said...

There was a Chase bank commercial with this couple that flew halfway around the world just to go lounge around the pool. WTF? You can't do that at home?

What little travel I do is for one of two things:

a) to see people I can't see at home, or
b) to see things I can't see at home.

Went to the Grand Canyon last year - something that has to be physically experienced to understand completely. Next on the list is Yellowstone, and DC. (I'm a big museum guy, and I've wanted to do the Smithsonian for years.)

As many things as there are in Los Angeles, my mom isn't one of them. She's in Minnesota. I have friends in Michigan and Ohio.

Having an otherwise good life is irrelevant. The author can take her yoga handstands and screw herself.

Milwaukee:

Since I taught in England, I was an English Teacher, but in a different way.

And I bet you put the period outside the quotation marks, where it rightly belongs.