September 13, 2013

"If this video doesn't inspire you to plan a trip, nothing will."

Buzzfeed offers this "Facts That Will Make You Want To Travel." Since questioning traveling is a big theme on this blog, I'm going to embed this before watching it. I'll get back to you on whether it consigns me to the category Buzzfeed considers uninspirable.

UPDATE: Second-by-second reaction.

0:02 I realize I have seen this video before.

0:12 I've seen reports of those "studies" and am skeptical. People misjudge how much buying, say, clothing will make them happy, but they also may misjudge how much happiness they got from a trip. The strains of traveling are over, and they are now nurturing the memory they made. What's really being compared are 1. material objects that you have in your possession and come to view as not such a big deal anymore and 2. past events that are only in memory and can therefore be massaged into a form you enjoy. This is testament to the power of the mind and the value of the intangible possession that is the past.

0:16 That music thinks it can juice me up. Instead it makes me more aware that I am watching propaganda. And this is propaganda for the travel industry. It must convince me to drop money into things that won't last — like the $300 shoes that I'll "eventually forget about." Yeah, but meanwhile, I'm always going to need some shoes. They're not just for the purpose of memory-making. And: 1. Money saved not buying expensive shoes doesn't have to be thrown into travel. 2. For $300, I could buy, instead of expensive shoes, a pair of shoes, a skirt, and 2 tops or some other combination of useful wearable things that will make daily life comfortable and nice. 3. I actually do have some happy memories of specific shoes, in fact, only yesterday I was contemplating a particular kind of shoe that we wore circa 1960 that I'd love to find today.

0:21 I don't need to spend $300 to gaze at a sunset over a beautiful landscape. I can walk or bike to many beautiful vantage points, and I can drive an hour or less and get to really scenic places. If I'd spent money and time getting to somewhere farther away, would I be more likely or less likely to arrive at the elated expression seen on that woman's face? I think a less planned and more subtle experience might produce greater joy. But the contrast made in the video is to $300 sneakers. That's not the relevant comparison.

0:31 "A short trip will make you feel just as happy." Yeah, that's the argument against travel! Go for a walk in your own town or to the nearby state parks. You don't have to make a big deal about it.

0:33 Those people look like they could be enjoying sitting out on Union Terrace, having a drink while the sun sets over Lake Mendota. We love to walk there.

0:39 This shows that what is important are relationships with other people. Travel is presented as a means to that end, but there are obviously many other means. And there's a correlation-is-not-causation problem with "Regular travellers get along with people better." Maybe people who avoid travel do so because they don't get along with other people. Those who love interacting with other people may go in for travel because one of the stresses of travel isn't so stressful for them. You can't necessarily infer that traveling will improve your ability to get along with other people. I'm picturing a crowded plane with the usual annoyances.

0:46 Here we see how nice it is to have an intimate partner in life. What's the connection to travel? I see they are in a car. Meade and I are often in a car together. It's always nice, around town or off on some longer trip. But the surtitle is trying to nudge us to think couples have sex more if they go on a trip. Sex — or some other "intimacy" — is the end. Travel is offered as the means. That strikes me as a bit pathetic.

0:51 Another argument in favor of having someone to love. This is classic advertising propaganda. Put the product with something else that's good.

1:05 Oh, great. Che Guevara. I should travel because Che Guevara. Blech. He "found himself." Do you seriously think your self is out there somewhere you need to travel to find?

1:11 Monet didn't travel to Argenteuil. He lived there. Relocating your home isn't travel.

1:16 "The ticket is usually the only big cost." Oh! The money we have spent in hotels and restaurants. That's where you hemorrhage money.

1:19 "A massage in Bali is $6." Why the hell would you spent all that money and time going to Bali and then lie around with your eyes closed and have a passive experience that you can get at home? Yeah, it's more than $6 at home, but why'd you go to Bali? And do you really want to extract the pleasure of a massage from someone you are exploiting economically? The argument the video is making here is that you should give a lot of your money to the airlines because they can take you to places where the people will sell themselves super-cheap. How about avoiding the (terrible) airlines and spending the money in your hometown, on people who are your neighbors, who contribute to your community, and are asking a fair price for their work?

1:32 Eh. I'm smart enough.

1:37 "It's time to plan a trip." Planning. I don't like planning. I like spontaneous. Make an equivalent video about living spontaneously in the present. Won't that bring more happiness and intimacy, and won't you be more likely to find yourself and to get along without spending too much money? I think so.


EDH said...

Kind of lost me at Che Guevara.

dmoelling said...

Bah! I see you are not a tourist, but a "Traveller...."

More interesting is that you should be a rough traveller. So you buy the airline ticket but stay in cheap places. I'm sorry but cheap is cheap anywhere and usually less comfortable. Maybe the twentysomethings in the video like this but not me.

BDNYC said...

Travel somehow made Che the man he was? No thanks.

SteveR said...

Che? Really? Did Hitler travel? Can you travel if you have kids? How about over 50?

madAsHell said...

Che Guevara bicycled across South America

...and a string of unsolved murders followed him.

Henry said...

No one makes good propaganda anymore.

Travel makes you smug doesn't sell me.

Henry said...

People that travel report having money to spend on things like travel.

Solzhenitsyn's travels to Siberia inspired him to write great books.

Germs that travel are more likely to find new hosts than germs that stay at home.

Brian said...

Che Guevara? For the love of God.

"Travel! It will help you become the Stalinist mass murderer you were born to be!"

Brian said...

On a more substantive note, I think that bit about the length of a trip having no effect on post-trip happiness cuts *against* the pro-travel point, doesn't it?

Hazy Dave said...

Reactions in no particular order:

Opinions are not facts.
Correlation is not causation.
So what?

traditionalguy said...

Equal Time for travel nuts.

Travel is getting easier than ever thanks to digital advances at Airlines and Hotels. It is also getting more expensive, but that also keeps the crowds down.

Best bet is a long flight roundtrip and picking up a a Hertz Gold Club car ready to go for a week and around in one area.

Mentally it frees up your ability to accept people's differences as small issues. We are all humans:Asians, Hispanics, European, Indian (Hindu) with a sprinkling of Americans from the South.

The difficult ones are usually the Moslem Sheiks with their herd of subservient wives under head masks and their arrogant young male sheiks in waiting sucking up to the head man. The Patriarchy is alive and well among them.

Sean Gleeson said...

"Monet discovered lillies [sp.] when he went to Arguenteuil. [sp.]"

So I guess traveling didn't actually make the Buzzfeed guys any smarter.

jimbino said...


Travel is a necessary part of education, but you really should speak a few foreign languages and read a bunch more in order to profit from the experience--especially if your only language is English.

I don't see how a person could be happy relying on the media-filtered reports of what the people, politics, customs and cultures of world are like.

Even if you deeply experience only a couple of different cultures, you will gain an education and new appreciation of your own home and homeland.

MadisonMan said...

Oh, great. Che Guevara. I should travel because Che Guevara. Blech. He "found himself."

My exact reaction.

Who the hell cares about Che Guevara? But it tells you exactly who this video is made for: Hipster Doofuses who live in Park Slope (or wherever they live if Park Slope has changed).

Hagar said...

Madame, is that you?

surfed said...

Work retirement looms - We'll be on the road for 6 months a year soon. Bali, Portugal, Ecuador, etc. Living there 6 months and then returning to the States for 6 months. We will be on surfing surfari to stay (plus museums, temples, volcanoes, so on and so forth). Cause everybody does have an ocean. You just have to choose the one you want. Can't wait.

Bob Ellison said...

Travel implies adventure. That's an exciting idea: take on the world! Experience something and test your mettle!

Modern travel doesn't do that much. Go on a cruise ship. Your biggest challenge is hoping to avoid a bacterium or a big crash because the driver was drunk. Go to Phuket. Your biggest challenge is trying to say the name of the island without giggling or admitting that you're a Eurosnob.

I like the idea of packing a knife, a water bottle, and not much else and living off the land. That's travel. But I'm not that tough. Can't do without modern medical help.

gadfly said...

My reaction to vacation travel is exactly the opposite to the so-called benefits in the video. As an accountant, I count money - and the constant bleeding of my bank account during vacations absolutely horrifies me.

When at home, I do not spend my days dreaming about acquiring more clothes or other possessions - so that angle is certainly foreign to me.

People are great everywhere - so there is no lessons to be had from interacting with people in far-away places.

Finally, attractive scenery is in the eye of the beholder - and we all must like what we see at home - else it would not be home.

John said...

Ann, Che Guevara? Is this in any way related to your 2008 vote?

GrandpaMark said...

I actually do have some happy memories of specific shoes, in fact, only yesterday I was contemplating a particular kind of shoe that we wore circa 1960 that I'd love to find today.

Desert Boots?

lgv said...

My first thought was that it didn't exclude "local" travel, the kind that Althouse does.

I thought the message was pretty good except for the Che reference. That destroyed the credibility of the writer. Maybe he should edit and sub in Jack Kerouac or this guy I know who crossed Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan on a motorcycle back in the 60's.

There's a big percentage of the world that finds happiness in a trip to Mecca, although it's way too touristy for me.

SteveR said...

I just saw an ad for Nature Valley Granola Bars that was more inspirational than that.. Shorter too.

Foobarista said...

I'd hope to avoid the "adventures" of murderous Communists - and I doubt that Che himself would see his adventures as "travel" - and I'd skip the buy expensive baubles thing.

But I gather that I'm simply not as "textual" as Ann. Books and articles don't make a place "real" for me - I have to go there and see it, where I see lots of little things that may or may not be in books, but are still interesting.

I figure that stuff like this is hardwired, as is tolerance for the inevitable unpleasantness of moving around. The sort of places we go involve lots of awful roads, scary driving, crappy trains, people staring at you, etc, but this sort of thing never bothered me as much as some.

surfed said...

It's not an adventure until something fucks up and goes totally horribly wrong. Until then, you're just touristing.

traditionalguy said...

The Professor will never be a travel nut. She says she prefers to not make plans, but the most fun part is planning the trip.

Spontaneous happens among the people you meet at the destination. Many have never seen a U. of Wisconsin Law Professor before, especially not one like her.

Just think of it as The Peace Corps, and travel far in memory of JFK's death's 50th year coming up in November.

lgv said...

BTW, a $6 massage is a little hard to find in Bali. If you wander the beaches you find a freelancer around $10 (beach area is not owned by the resort). Else, the resort spa charges $30-$60.

I would not call it exploitation either. It's a good paying job in Bali.

Your point is well taken on "why go to Bali to...", which is why I always question, "why go on a cruise ship to..."

eddie willers said...

Made me tired just watching it.

I'm gonna go lay down and read a book.

Ann Althouse said...

"Desert Boots?"

No, what I was thinking about were these black leather flats that were as low cut in the front as possible and then had a double t-strap. They were thin and sleek, like ballet slippers with thin soles, but they stayed securely in place because of the straps, but the straps were thin and pretty.

I don't see these anywhere now, even though simple flats are all over the place.

You hardly see t-straps much, but this was the double t-strap, with one strap over the arch and the other strap lower. (Nothing up around the ankle like you see all the time now, and which is much less flattering.)

mr said...

Travel offers the possibility of strange in a way that staying home just doesn't, which I suppose was Che's motivation.

Pettifogger said...

There once was a traveler named Che,
Who set out to find his own way.
He found he could kill
And get a big thrill.
So he practiced and went forth to slay.

Tank said...

The strains of traveling are over, and they are now nurturing the memory they made.

Actually one of the great things about travelling IS that long after you enjoy remembering what you did and where you went, and discussing it with other people who have, or have not, been there too.

surfed said...

@Grandpa Mark - Hush Puppy Desert boots. I have two pair. Here's the Amazon link. Go through the Althouse Amazon portal and they'll be delivered to your door.

southcentralpa said...

What, no poll (preferably one having no option I actually agree with) ??

Crunchy Frog said...

So you buy the airline ticket but stay in cheap places.

If I'm travelling, I going to see whatever it is that's unique to the place I visit. A hotel is just a place to sleep and plan the next day's events. If I want amenities, there are plenty of 4- and 5-star hotels where I live. I can go get a spa treatment 10 minutes away from my house. I don't have to spend extra for the plane ticket there and back.

John Lynch said...

I like traveling and seeing things for myself. I always notice details that aren't in books and can't be discovered any other way. I always find something that I've never heard anyone talk about. I enjoy that. I like learning. The world is often a very different place than everyone says.

I don't do it for the experience or the food or to feel good about my upper-middle class childless lifestyle. Ugh, this video. It's propaganda for the same sort of people who ride bicycles that cost five thousand dollars. It's travel as status. Travel as smug. Travel makes me better than you shallow consumerists who buy things for your grandchildren.


David said...

Che found himself?

How persuasive.

On the other hand, it was travelers who eventually found Che.

Travelers with guns. And a camera. Put that image on your tshirt.

David said...

That whole video and the girl on the rock with the nice ass never seems to appear.

Must have gone somewhere.

Crunchy Frog said...

"Why go on a cruise ship to..."

To spend a day in several different cities, without the hassle of packing, unpacking, checking in and out, and driving/flying in between each one.

To eat like a pig without once having to look at what it costs, and to be able to drink as much or as little as I want and not have to worry about getting pulled over for drunk driving.

To meet interesting people from all walks of life and get to interact with them for the rest of the cruise, not just the next 15 minutes until it's time to hop back into the car to go the next place.

Essentially, for the price of a week in a hotel in a fixed location, I can get a week in a hotel that travels with me, with free food and entertainment at all hours.

ALP said...

Monet didn't travel to Argenteuil. He lived there. Relocating your home isn't travel.

One of the reasons I hate travel (even to the next state over to visit family) is that I never get the chance to recover physically from the change in routine before its times to leave - and its exhausting. Different bed. Different sounds keeping you awake - less sleep. Eating more food than you usually because its "special". Not being able to maintain the same workout routine. Not having your "stuff" around to keep you busy. It all adds up to feeling sluggish and crappy.

But I'd jump at the chance to LIVE in Italy where my grandfather comes from. At least six (6) months would do it. Establish a home away from home, and a nice routine. This gives one a chance to acclimate. Get to know some people. Explore deeply from a base of operations - no detail is too mundane. You'll learn the rhythm of a place - instead of darting in and out frantically, trying get as much "experience" into a short time frame as possible.

Christopher said...

I love checking out new places but I hate the actual act of traveling.

There is nothing more torturous to me than being stuck in a car/plane/train/boat for hours on end.

ALP said...

There is nothing more torturous to me than being stuck in a car/plane/train/boat for hours on end.
Not to mention being treated like a bovine during the process of getting onto said plane/train/boat. The last time I flew from coast to coast (10 yrs ago?)I was by myself. My connecting flight had been delayed, which found me standing in a line for a new boarding pass for 2+ hours. With a very full bladder. And the restrooms yards and yards away.

When an experience leads you to ponder whether you should pee right then and line, just to "show that asshole airline what's what..."

In fact, somebody right now is probably working on a response YouTube video, featuring lost luggage, bedbug infestations, food poisoning, misunderstandings with law enforcement, strange bug bites, problems with customs/visas...and peeing on the floor of an airport because you've been standing in line for 3+ hours...

Amy said...

The clip of the plane at the beginning reminded me of how much I hate and despise dealing with TSA. So that was a reason NOT to travel to me. I live somewhere pretty, but I love seeing other pretty places. So I will fly annually and put up with the horrible experience that it has become, for the payoff at the other end.
But that video stimulated several eye rolls on my part. Especially the Che part. WHO would have used him as an example? OR perhaps the better question is - who is this aimed for that would consider him someone to emulate? Ugh

AustinRoth said...

I feel so sad for the many of you that are so down on traveling to new places.

So the travel itself sucks - so what? It is about seeing and experiencing the world, and its vast variety of cultures, people, places and things for yourself, to immerse yourself in new, strange locales, and LEARN.

I would never trade where I have been, such as wandering off in Ammman, Jordan and stopping at a restaurant where I had no idea what they were serving, or saying, and spending five hours with the owner and his family in the end, tasting incredible food, meeting wonderful people, then going the next day to Petra.

You cannot understand what makes Baveria special from a TV show or what Mate de Coca in La Paz tastes like, the sublime beauty of Versailles from a picture, feel the heat and hear the sound of lava flowing into the ocean from Kilauea Volcano unless you go there.

To waste the short life we have saving and scrimping every penny like that accountant seems to me a sad existence.

p.s. - don't forget the great, grand things to see here in the US on driving trips, either. I have been to 47 states now, and every single one has multiple examples of beauty and history and culture unique to it worthy exploring.

My next trip starts in 3 weeks (Skyline Drive, Monticello, James River Plantations, Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, Jamestown and Yorktown). get out - go exploring and experiencing everyone.

Kirk Parker said...


The problem with (stereotypical) cruise ships is--you can't go w/o also inviting several thousand of your closest friends. Bleah.

OTOH, some friends of ours just took a "small-ship" cruise on the inside passage to Alaska (and they were on the small side of small-ship, only about 24 pax on board. OTOH the risk with such a small group is that the assh*les, if present, aren't diluted by the large crowd. Fortunately, there weren't really any such on their trip, and they had a fabulous time.

Crunchy Frog,

Re: a cheap place--when I met my daughter in London on the way back from her internship in Africa, we stayed at this inimitable place. As they point out, just 3 minutes' walk from the Russel Square tube station, and as my daughter and I discussed via email before the trip--how much time are we going to spend in our hotel room??? Zero other than crashing for a few hours' sleep, right?

AlanKH said...

Che Guevara is proof that travel turns you into a murderous bastard.

ALP said...

I feel so sad for the many of you that are so down on traveling to new places.
Why on earth would people making choices that work just fine for THEM make you sad?