June 3, 2016

"Travel isn’t just framed as a cure-all for what ails us, either, but as a goal around which to build the other elements of one’s life."

"Don’t have children, the thinking goes, because they’ll hinder your ability to travel. Work for yourself and create passive income, so you can jaunt off to exotic locales whenever you want. In a relatively safe and prosperous time, in a society that lacks many built-in challenges and hardships, travel has become the way to have an adventure, to demonstrate a kind of bravery — a cosmopolitan courage where one ventures into unfamiliar territory and undergoes a rite of passage to become an enlightened global citizen. Travel is thus seen as both a tool of personal development and an almost altruistic moral good. In short, as the old religious sources of guidance and identity have fallen away, a kind of 'cult of travel' has developed in their place."

From "Against the Cult of Travel, or What Everyone Gets Wrong About the Hobbit," by Brett and Kate McKay.  Much more at the link, including this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.

55 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Some people are travelers by nature. Other people are home bound.

steve uhr said...

We went to Atlantic City last week and stayed at the Trump Taj Mahal.

Doesn't get any better than that.

Original Mike said...

"My giant goes with me wherever I go."

Travel is not a way to escape yourself. I would think that would be obvious.

Rusty said...

Wasn't it Bennie Profane that said, " Where ever you go, there you are."

Original Mike said...

"Travel is thus seen as both a tool of personal development and an almost altruistic moral good. In short, as the old religious sources of guidance and identity have fallen away, a kind of 'cult of travel' has developed in their place.""

If that's your expectation no wonder you're disappointed. I am really enjoying the ability to travel that retirement affords. I travel with specific interests in mind, lately astronomy and geology. I do not travel for "personal development." I travel because I enjoy doing what I do when I get there.

traditionalguy said...

Trump flies his own 757 all over the place. I think Malania wanted the Frequent Flier Miles. But The Donald is too cheap.

He used to go over and do Fly Bys to shoot film of his British Isles Golf Course Resorts. But that needed local Air Traffic Control approval, and the Dhimmi Brits are getting mad now about his opposition to Islamic Terrorists.

The Adelson connection could end up in an Israel Trip soon, but The Donald will not be announcing that in advance so Obama cannot as easily arrange to have a Iranian Agent shoot him down.

buwaya said...

"Don’t have children, the thinking goes, because they’ll hinder your ability to travel. "

If this is actual advice, it comes from the Devil. The rest is foolishness.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

What Original Mike said. I travel because I want to see or experience something there. Traveling as a way to "find yourself" is idiotic.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I have encountered this frequently, a kind of smug superiority in the well-traveled. They signal their virtue by speaking of the misery of the Indians, the Africans, whoever. Don't ask them what they did there-- most likely drank gin and tonic at the beach. It's enough for them that they commiserate.

Writ large, this gives us a Hillary Clinton, whose chief-- whose only-- accomplishment as Secretary of State, is that she flew two million miles.

Oso Negro said...

Tyrone - Yes, I travel to a lot of places: this past week it was Odessa, Ukraine, London, England, and good old Cincinnati. And I work there. Work. Real capitalism, unalloyed with the stink of government money, or the eely moralistic sheen of the NGO do-gooder. It doesn't make mer superior, but rather better informed about the world. Writ large, it means that I know that real poor people are skinny, that plenty of people don't care to celebrate anyone else's sexual deviancy, and that American women are spoiled beyond measure. Abroad, I am free to be myself; people expect outlandish behavior of a foreigner. I am spared the constant bombardment of inane American news and can more easily avoid contemplating the awful facts that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be president and way too many of you are happy to vote for one or the other.

Michael K said...

I have been all over the world and took my children with me. Not all at the same time but they have all gone and none of them are unable to find Libya on a map and they all know what language Austria speaks.

Some of them have been to the beaches at Normandy and walked among the graves above Omaha Beach.

They know who the allies were in World War II and where Vietnam is and what Memorial Day is about.

Ann, this is more of your virtue signaling.

My nephew did not have the money to travel as my kids did so he had the US Marine Corps send him.

I don;t know where this holier than thou about travel comes from. Stay home if you wish !

Original Mike said...

There is a certain charm in drinking beer in an old open-air pub in Kirribilli (north end of the Sydney Harbour bridge) watching footie (to use a recent example). It did not improve me. I just enjoyed it.

Original Mike said...

Of course it's possible that nothing could improve me.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, this is more of your virtue signaling."

In what way? I genuinely don't know what you mean.

Sebastian said...

"Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places . . . and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from . . . My giant goes with me wherever I go" Methinks RWE merely affects to be disappointed, never thought of traveling as a paradise to cleanse the sad old self in the first place, and simply uses the anti-traveling trope as an occasion for quasi-Puritan instruction on stern facts the striving self must contemplate. Even so, the "indifference of places" conveys an odd failure of imagination. Of course, most places are "indifferent" to us lowly creatures: no travel needed for that "discovery." But a rather more joyful traveler than supposedly unrelentingly sad RWE could find the immersion in another place or culture, the sheer bodily exposure to it, a self-changing delight or sobering insight. Which is not to argue vacuously "for" or "against" travel, both used now as forms of virtue signaling.

buwaya said...

If you are going to be an imperial democracy, however, it helps to travel.
Otherwise your judgement may suffer. Both Kipling and Orwell had something to say in this regard, accepting similar facts but coming to opposite conclusions.
"Burmese Days" and "The Ballad of Boh Da Thone" are remarkably similar in perspicacity.

buwaya said...

"The Ballad of Boh Da Thone" is much funnier though.

Gabriel said...

Said better before, by Horace: Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.

They change their skies, but not their souls, who run across the seas.

buwaya said...

The reason to travel is the sort of perspective that is hard to pick up even in the internetted world. If you want to see out of some far-off peoples eyes, it helps to sit in the same humidity with the same mosquitoes with the same whiff of incompetently-managed sewage. There is learning to do with sense impressions that don't come across on TCP/IP.

Its necessary for you to have to get something done, and not just some NGO travel-opportunity make-work charity thing. Its more helpful if you can arrange to be robbed at least, and better yet kidnapped.

MadisonMan said...

In what way? I genuinely don't know what you mean.

Look how good I am! I'm not consuming resources by traveling!

That would be my guess.

Daniel Richwine said...

Travel is overrated. I'm not a fan.

buwaya said...

In case anyone hasn't read Belloc's "Modern Traveller", do.

Joe said...

More rubbish from the intellectual class. I don't travel a lot for pleasure, but when I do it sure as hell is to get away from life.

William said...

Is this an argument against going to heaven? Do the holier than thou get left behind in the last days........I recognize that when I travel to far climes I will be the same person. I know that but the people I meet there don't know that. My familiars here know that I will never again say anything new or surprising, but I'm sure that there are many people overseas who would find my anecdotes amusing, interesting, perhaps even fascinating. You just have to keep trekking in order to find that great, good place. There must be some place in the world where women find an American accent exotic and intriguing.

Bob said...

Thoreau was once asked if he traveled widely. He famously replied that, yes, he had traveled widely about Concord.

Michael K said...

""Ann, this is more of your virtue signaling."

In what way? I genuinely don't know what you mean."

There is a sort of reverse snobbery about not traveling. It may be about "Look how good I am! I'm not consuming resources by traveling!"

It may be "More rubbish from the intellectual class."

I made the point that, since my kids were old enough to go, I took them. My middle daughter was 6 when we took her to Germany and Austria. She didn't become an authority on Germany but she saw how other people lived. When we were in Salzburg, we took a carriage ride around the cathedral and the driver let her hold the reins.

When the older kids were teenagers, I took six of them (One a niece and one my partner's step daughter) to England for two weeks. I rented a big VW van and went all over. We stayed almost a week on the Isle of Wight and the girls saw Duran-Duran playing at a small nightclub on the island before anyone had heard of them.

My middle daughter speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic and has lived in Spain for a year and spent weeks in Morocco to practice her Arabic. She has been to China (which I have not) several times and and has friends there. She is going to Zurich next week for an art show. She works for a very high end art gallery in LA. Her older sister, who is an FBI agent, has been trying to recruit her for the FBI for years. Last year she detected a forgery in a painting her boss had bought from Christies.

The youngest majored in French because she wants to live in France but the French economy is so crappy, there are no jobs. She loves France.

I think taking kids around the world, if you can, is educating them more than sending them to a university that values BLM protestors more then Shakespeare. Cost less, too.

If they can't afford it, my nephew joined the Marine Corps and spent four years in Japan,

Birches said...

The Art of Manliness is aimed at Millennial men. They are arguing that travel shouldn't be a stand in for a real life. I have several friends who are living in an extended adolescence, which is fine, I guess, but they might find it lacking as they grow older.

Birches said...

"How much one travels is presented these days as a kind of litmus test: the more you travel, the more courageous, cultured, and non-conventional your life is taken to be; the less you travel, the more your life is assumed to be boring, conventional, and narrow.

But the lines are not so easily drawn. A man who’s visited every continent may have a soul as shallow as a thumbnail scratch, while a man who’s never left his hometown may have a spirit deeper than an oceanic trench; the man whose Instragram profile is filled with images of ancient ruins and beachside sunsets may have an extremely limited view of life’s possibilities, while the man who lacks a single passport stamp has cultivated an expansive and far-reaching mind; the man who’s bravely ventured across the globe may be frightened stiff of facing himself and grappling with the ordinary, while the man who’s snug at home has bravely faced up to exactly who he is and what his life has amounted to.

And vice versa, of course.

Nor do these types have to be mutually exclusive.

But even if you wish to be a man whose travels are as rich as his inner life, start with the latter, rather than the former.

Seek depth first, then width.

And know that life’s greatest, most important adventures can be begun right where you’re sitting right now. Without even packing your bags, you can set off on a pilgrimage to greater self-discovery, epic excellence, and heroic virtue, so that, like Bilbo, you’ll soon be “doing and saying things altogether unexpected."

I think this is the take away.

Birches said...

I will always give praise to anyone who badmouths Eat, Pray, Love as well.

Ann Althouse said...

My question was not answered.

Nothing I wrote flaunted my supposed virtue or whatever that coy phrase "virtue signaling" is supposed to mean.

I said nothing about environmentalism in this post, and in other posts where I have raised environmental issues in connection with travel, it's mostly been to call out hypocrisy from those who claim to care about climate change.

Michael K said...

Birches, I don't disagree but will you allow that a man, or woman, may have both ?

Michael K said...

" in other posts where I have raised environmental issues in connection with travel, it's mostly been to call out hypocrisy "

I don't want to make a search but I seem to recall disdain toward those who like to travel.

Oso Negro said...

Fuck it. I travel in shorts.

MadisonMan said...

I don't want to make a search but I seem to recall disdain toward those who like to travel.

I don't recall that. I recall from Althouse more a general personal disgust with the inconvenience of air travel (especially if a man in shorts is seated next to you on the plane) and the trapped feeling one must get on a cruise ship.

glenn said...

My wife and I have been travelling for all our married life. 30 years ago we took our first trip to Europe. We have friends there, you cant imagine how special those 30 years have been. But if seeing Paris or Florence or Rome doesn't fire your rocket please stay home. And if you go please don't think putting an "A" or an "O" on the end of your words and talking louder will make you understood. Been there seen that.

Roy Lofquist said...

If you're doing travel right it shouldn't take you more than a month to get out of your own neighborhood.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I know it's been said many times, but one of the great blessings of travel is a renewed appreciation of what an Eden my home is. As my sainted Mother used to say, love to go-love to get home.

rcocean said...

Certain people love to travel. They and the Travel industry have tried to convince everyone that you're a 2nd rate person unless you're viewing the Pyramids, sunbathing at Cannes or kayaking down the Amazon.

Others push back against this propaganda. As someone once said "Oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like Home".

Darleen said...

I think traveling is like any other leisure activity and chosen strictly by taste.

Kinda like if you like ketchup or mayo with your french fries.

My in-laws have a black belt in traveling (I don't think there's many places on Earth they have NOT been ... my FIL as a civilian engineer with the Navy has even been to Antarctica 3 times)

My own parents are homebodies with just a few trips within the US on their travel resume.

Hubby & I fall somewhere in the middle. We balance our homelife (kids, grandkids, careers, hobbies) with planning occasional trips. 2011 it was Ireland (one of the best trips ever), this year it will be 3 weeks in Japan (mainichi watashi wa nihongo o benkyoushimas).

bagoh20 said...

There's a reason why God made the world round, you know.

Joe said...

There's a reason why God made the world round, you know.

I thought it was for galactic billiards.

mockturtle said...

Perhaps, as in Candide, we will all spend our remaining days settled down, cultivating a garden and feeling ultimate contentment. OTOH, maybe not. Some of us love travel and some don't. It's really that simple. One size never fits all, something Voltaire never did understand.

Original Mike said...

"There's a reason why God made the world round, you know."

Gravity is why the world is round.

Michael K said...

"30 years ago we took our first trip to Europe. We have friends there, you cant imagine how special those 30 years have been. But if seeing Paris or Florence or Rome doesn't fire your rocket please stay home."

Exactly. My daughter, on her way to Zurich, is stopping in England for a few days. She will visit friends of all of us in Chichester on her way.

Several years ago, they were in California and we took them on a tour to Yosemite, San Francisco and the wine country.

Last year, we spent a week with them in Brussels and visited Waterloo, where one of our host's ancestors was a member of Wellington's staff at the battle. She has a copy of his letter to a friend describing the battle.

They are retired British Army and my age. I was able to visit the grave of Sir William Osler's only son in Belgium. My interest in medical history is one we share with our friends. Through them, I am a member of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, which was the first organization to issue medical licenses (in 1835.) I took my daughter to their annual ball about six years ago. It was held in the Merchant Taylor's Hall of London.

The hall dates to 1347. WE had dinner with the commanding general of the RAMC and her date, a retired Colonel who was delightful.

She will remember this all her life. She told me her knees were knocking as we ascended the staircase to the reception line.

Earlier, we had attended The Lord Mayor's Show. in bleachers for invited guests.

That's why I like to travel with kids.

Limited blogger said...

Made me break out my faux leather bound copy of 'The Hobbit', and start reading it for the 5th or 6th time. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole...."

Birches said...

Of course you can do both, Michael K, but the authors are addressing a large group of their peers who have substituted a fancy Instagram account for substance.

Original Mike said...

"I don't want to make a search but I seem to recall disdain toward those who like to travel."

I do too. Guess I got it wrong.

Smilin' Jack said...

If you really want to see the world, stay home. Wherever that is, you can strive to know what you are looking at, to understand what you are seeing. It's about looking deep, not far. Travelers remind me of birders, who keep meticulous lists of the names of the birds they've seen, while knowing nothing of bird behavior and evolution, or of the physics of flight. Look around you--that's the world.

Original Mike said...

"If you really want to see the world, stay home."

The Southern Hemisphere stars are only in the Southern Hemisphere.

Iapetus said...

Last year my wife and I took a diving trip to Palau. We'd always wanted to swim in the famous Jellyfish Lake. It was a fantastic adventure, almost beyond belief, with tens of thousands of jellies floating up, tens of other thousands of them floating down and all around. Now, it appears, the jellyfish---which have a very short lifespan---have all disappeared because of a long drought in the islands. So it turns out we were among the last swimmers to see the lake in all of its abundant jellyfish glory. If we'd stayed home, we'd have missed our chance to experience this amazing wonder of Nature. Travel, it's what we do for lifelong learning.

Mark said...

Birders know nothing about behavior?

Sure, the mechanics of flight is a completely different subject but you don't know many good birders if they don't know about behavior. The oblessed borders I know read voraciously during winter.

On my walks with our local experts during warbler migration there was a ton of discussion on last year's book about song sparrow communication, behavioral ways to distinguish birds, and study of the data rich Ebird database to track migration patterns.

At least around here, birders do a lot more than make lists. Every serious birder i know logs sections for the citizen scientist driven WI breeding bird atlas.

Much like with travelers, the impression and the reality are often different. Only by ignoring a lot of the facts can one make these cute little generalizations.

vicari valdez said...

very interesting article that brings up a lot of very good points, but i don't think everyone who likes to travel fits the particular mold you've highlighted in this post.

vicari valdez said...

'virtue signalling' as far as i can tell from reading this blog and others means making a point that someone else disagrees with.

ndspinelli said...

Althouse is afraid to fly. All of these MANY horseshit posts about travel, when whittled down, are really about her fear, and cowardice in not confronting that fear. It's nothing more or less than that.

mikee said...

I have pictures of my bought-in-Tokyo Godzilla stomping on the TEL research factory, taken on a weekend during a three month stay. Perspective is one thing learned through travel. The Godzilla was only about 8 inches high, but proper positioning and a deep focal length made it seem all to real.

My manager back in the states got a laugh out of it, too.