January 30, 2018

"The lifestyle shift was especially pronounced among 18- to 24-year-olds, who spent an extra 14 days at home and roughly four days less in travel."

"The findings represent a significant change in lifestyle in less than 10 years. Those fewer travel days are particularly important when it comes to saving energy. 'Energy intensity when you’re traveling is actually 20 times per minute [more] than when spent at home,' said Ashok Sekar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author on [a study that 'found that, on average, Americans spent 7.8 more days at home in 2012, compared to 2003. They calculated that this reduced national energy demand by 1,700 trillion BTUs in 2012, or 1.8 percent of the nation’s total energy use']."

From "Americans Are Staying Home More. That’s Saving Energy" (NYT).

Some of the staying home more is due to working from home instead of commuting to work, but there is also a turn away from travel among younger people. The importance of travel is one of my longtime interests on this blog. I've been questioning why and whether people feel they should travel — the psychology of travel — as well as the ethics and philosophy of travel, so I'm very interested in how these things change over time and with new generations.

The NYT article begins with the idea that people who don't get away from home are exhibiting laziness: "Despite what you may have learned as a child, sloth isn’t always a sin." But I'm interested in the sin-talk, because the gluttonous consumption of energy is also a sin, and apparently people traveling tend to use 20 times as much energy as those who stay home.

Compare your sins. (Click to enlarge.) Gluttony:



Sloth:

66 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

How does energy usage for Lust compare?

MadisonMan said...

apparently people traveling tend to use 20 times as much energy as those who stay home

This little factoid is something I am having difficulty believing -- unless it's including the energy needed to get somewhere -- like an airplane flight.

When I travel for work, once at the destination, my life isn't a whole lot different than it is in Madison. I spend the day talking to people, or sitting in a room.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

My holier than thou non travelling friend lives with her husband and two children in a $1.5 million dollar 4100 SF house. Over 1000 SF of air-conditioned Phoenix real estate per family member. Just saying.

buwaya said...

Travel is educational.
True travel, done right, puts you in a very different social environment and makes you adapt.

The results are visible in literature. There is a broadening of reach visible in the 18th-19th century, among people who have truly been and done, as compared to those who simply heard of the foreign second-hand. Joseph Conrad, for instance, and his spiritual descendant Naipaul.

But I come from a long line of extreme travellers, we are genetically disposed to wanderlust, and biased therefore.

More modern sorts of tourism insulate the traveller from such things, transforming all of it into simply a matter of place, with a minimum of social context. And moreover a standardized international-modern living environment.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Sloth and gluttony make for a great combination.

rhhardin said...

Energy intensity when you’re traveling is actually 20 times per minute [more] than when spent at home

The NYT screwed up the quote but that's not the right way to fix it. The guy was talking about power, energy per unit time, so it would just be 20 times what you use at home.

Ambrose said...

Business travel is way down. Technology - email, video conferencing, webcasts, virtual data sites have all made expensive and inefficient business trips less common.

John Tuffnell said...

Too lazy or addicted to leave the laptops and smartphones

Bay Area Guy said...

Young folks are driving less too. The morning of my 16th Bday, I excitedly went to the DMV to get my license.

I was quickly mobile. Bought a used '74 Chevy Nova for $800 (actually my Dad bought it, because he didn't want me crashing his car)

I have many fond memories of Caliofrnia road trips, listening to Springsteen, dreaming about life, girls, the future.

buwaya said...

"Saving energy" is an idiotic goal. Unlimited, cheap energy is a great value to human technological development, to the doing of mighty deeds, and to living better. Limiting its availability is a terrible constraint on progress.

Limiting the generation of energy, as a policy, is myopic.
As a moral value it is neurotic.

Nonapod said...

Obviously in the Progressive Church of Gaia, excessive expenditure of energy is a far greater sin than sloth.

But seriously, travel kinda sucks. I try to avoid it whenever possible. International travel seems like far more effort, expense, and risk than it's worth. The denizens of most other counties seem to greatly dislike Americans and are more than willing to blame any and all their problems on us. In many places there's a constant risk of wealthy Westerners being kidnapped and held for ransom.

And regional travel just seems so unnecessary in most situations.

Rob said...

Would the combination of sloth and gluttony be sluttony? And would those who sermonize against it be guilty of sluttony-shaming?

MaxedOutMama said...

It probably comes down to money, or rather the lack of it. Student loans, etc.

When/if they have more money, the gluttony of traveling will resume and the sloth of saving will be sloughed off.

Ann Althouse said...

"True travel, done right, puts you in a very different social environment and makes you adapt."

Who among the prideful travelers really insinuates himself into the culture of another place and is not a negative intrusion?

At tourist destinations, the locals who talk to you are serving you and want your business. They are shopkeepers and waiters and hotel staff who must put on a front. You've got to be a fool to think you are learning about another culture by interacting with them.

What local who's not in the tourist business or some sort of criminal wants to hobnob with the tourists?

I think it's travel-industry propaganda and self-delusion, this talk about "learning" about another culture. You'd learn much more, much more quickly and reliably, by reading and looking at photographs.

Ann Althouse said...

"You'd learn much more, much more quickly and reliably, by reading and looking at photographs."

Which would consume far less energy.

Kate said...

Since I've recently become a twitch-tv addict, I'll add that in as a reason people travel less. You can meet and greet online friends from your couch. And if you go anywhere, you can't game because the console/PC is hooked up at home. (People who watch twitch also game, sometimes simultaneously.)

William Chadwick said...

Can we see the illustration for Lust? Of the Seven Deadly Sins that's my personal favorite.

Fernandistein said...

I'm far too lazy to do any of that "sloth" stuff, especially walking a chicken on a leash.

William said...

Some of the figures in the Gluttony illustration aren't even overweight. I think back in those days gluttony was defined as eating meat more than twice a week. Sugar and pizza had not yet been invented. It's hard to be a glutton when all you have to eat is black bread and porridge. Similarly, sloth was a challenge given the bedding available in that era. And that's not even mentioning tics and bedbugs.......A lot of virtue is due to the impracticality of the venues for many vices........I take pride in having never gotten fat. I am to sloth what Hugh Hefner was to lust, however. That's a vice I truly excell at.

robother said...

And what's the deal with the big guy in the upper left hand corner of Gluttony with the crankshaft running through his ears? Is he a glutton for punishment? Addicted to crank (centuries before the invention of meth--which would make Bruegel a real visionary)?
Sometimes the past really is a strange country.

Otto said...

Ann again on shades of shit. She is getting to be an expert in the field of shit with cogent references to her bible.

buwaya said...

The point is dont be a tourist.
The vast majority of people anywhere dont deal with foreigners as a matter of routine, even in tourist spots.
Heck, I've been a "tourist" in San Francisco for thirty years.

- Have a goal. Research or art or business or war, or even, maybe, matrimony.

- Learn the language, even a little.

- Go to where the locals go.

- People anywhere are attracted to the novel. Foreigners will be happy to speak to you, if the culture works that way.

- Don't go where the tourists go. Its a big world. If looking for a beach try Romblon instead of Thailand.

- Look for the local "high culture" - its very unlikely that there will be many tourists at these things. Or even the "low culture". Try a cockfight.

Marcus said...

I'm old. I don't travel because it costs money, which I don't have. I have plenty of time, which I fill up with reading, writing and walking. I live in a beautiful area but would travel to others _if_ I had disposable income to spend. Which I don't. I wouldn't travel outside the USA for a variety of reasons and I hate what airline travel has become.

buwaya said...

Bring up Google maps.

Drill down on the masses of islands that make up Indonesia.
The land forms are incredible. You can get a boat (a canoe really) at most any village, to some other island.

Have a look at Sumatra. Its huge, its more or less civilized, and hardly anyone other than a few Australians (you will find Australians in the oddest places; in fact if you are in an odd place, count on finding an Australian). How about a Sumatra road trip?

DKWalser said...

Are young people traveling less to save energy or are they traveling less because they are relatively poorer than prior generations? Travel not only requires energy, it requires money.

buwaya said...

Or teach.
The most useful English class I ever took (composition) was taught by a wandering Englishman from Cambridge.
There is bound to be a university out there interested in US Constitutional Law, as a rather exotic subject.

cubanbob said...

I'm out of the free articles. I suspect that the decline has occurred mostly during the period between the 2008 crash and the Obama years. I don't understand Althouse's aversion to travel. How is her road trips fundamentally different other travelling?

rehajm said...

I suspect that the decline has occurred mostly during the period between the 2008 crash and the Obama years

Yes. Now defunct thanks to Trump, The New Normal did not include disposable income.

Seeing Red said...

think it's travel-industry propaganda and self-delusion, this talk about "learning" about another culture. You'd learn much more, much more quickly and reliably, by reading and looking at photographs.


Wouldn’t that depend on who you talk to?

Or where you travel?

I Was in Russia 9 years after the fall of the wall and where I was they didn’t see a lot of Americans.

I spent about a week behind the Wall in the 80s.

I spent the evening of July 4 in a bar in Prague in the 80s.

Pictures can only do so much.

Seeing Red said...

ITA. Paying our OOP deductibles meant cutting back on other things.

jaydub said...

Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

Anyone who seriously believes that reading about a location or seeing it on a tube is the same thing as actually experiencing it is at best parochial and at worst ignorant. Most of the time you would not even know what to look for because the real pleasures of traveling are not documented in some book or on a you tube video or in a tourist guide. They're stumbled upon by accident and not understood without the ability to use all the senses rather than just sight and hearing. And you're completely wrong about how others feel about interacting with travelers - most are eager to talk about their life, culture and country to those who are genuinely interested and engaged, and very few are hostile to Americans. It's shocking to me how a person as educated as you can be so clueless about the value of travel.

jwl said...

"You'd learn much more, much more quickly and reliably, by reading and looking at photographs."

With all due respect Prof Althouse, but this codswallop. I am anglo who grew in central toronto, and after university I lived in England, South Korea, and Japan for more than a year in each one and I also travelled extensively while I lived abroad.

You are missing all the sights and smells and weird languages and food markets where you don't recognize anything for sale and peculiar meals with strange meat ....... Of course, this is not for everyone but I greatly enjoyed my travels and I would not trade experience for anything. Pictures don't reproduce sexy accents of joyful Thai people.

What I learned from my travels was to get outside of myself and society I grew up in and saw there were all kinds of way to live a good life or organize a society.

Luke Lea said...

I'm trying to imagine a 21st century version of Breugel on sloth. I see a lot of smartphones and video gamers, podcast listeners, Netflixers, and NFL fans. Very few actually lying in bed the way I do.

buwaya said...

I suppose also that its a matter of personality.

If you can hear Kipling, say "Route Marching" or "Mandalay", for their romance and exoticism, and not mind, much, the stuff he only hints at, the sweat, the misery and squalor, the dung, the flies, and the dead bodies, then you are suited to travel.

Paddy O said...

Sloth in the monastic traditions on sin wasn't as much about pure laziness, as it was about not doing one's calling. So, it could be expressed in laying in bed, or it could be expressed in distracting oneself, like flitting here and there trying to keep up with the gossip around town.

It got adapted from the earlier emphasis on acedia, which John Cassian wrote about nicely back in the 5th century.

"Some of the figures in the Gluttony illustration aren't even overweight"

He also wrote on gluttony. Gluttony wasn't just about eating too much. It could also be characterized by obsession with food in other ways, like being a overly-picky eater or requiring very high standards of preparation.

He also wrote on the other deadly sins (his list was 8) both in one chapter and each separately. They saw sins as symptoms to be diagnosed and then addressed, so were very interested in studying their nature (and responses to them) in detail.

Cassian's most famous book, The Conferences, was based on him traveling to the desert of Egypt from Bethlehem (which he came to from his birthplace in what is now eastern Europe). There he chatted with a bunch of different monks, and learned all about life and habits. Then traveled to what is now Marseille to start a very important monastery, because if you're going to finally settle down after a life of travel-based learning, it might as well be in southern Gaul.

Michael K said...

What I learned from my travels was to get outside of myself and society I grew up in and saw there were all kinds of way to live a good life or organize a society.

Yes, I took my kids all over and some have gone on by themselves as they got older. Lived in other countries and so forth.

I think what is happening is that that age group is tied to poor jobs to pay student loans.

The only student loans my kids have is for graduate degrees and they are even a burden.

Jack Wayne said...

Traveling itself is boring. Some destinations are boring. I try to limit my traveling to the road between myself and my favorite bar:

Kyzernick said...

I find travel to be an exciting adventure. I haven't done nearly enough of it, but what I've done - by myself or with friends or with my wife - has been incredible. For me the key is to always either drive somewhere or rent a car if I fly. Constant mobility prevents you from being bored, because there's always new sights to see.

People travel for the wrong reasons. They see pictures online, and think that their journey is going to be all beautiful views and perfect weather and no problems or spending too much money. Fact is, sometimes life doesn't cooperate like that. Those picturesque Scottish cliffs might be shrouded by fog. That quaint little Greek village might in fact be somewhat dirty. Your feet might get tired, or you might drink too much and get a hangover, and things might be more expensive than you thought, or the locals might be unfriendly at first. These things can all be overcome, but travel is not just fun - there's work involved too.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"Energy intensity when you’re traveling is actually 20 times per minute than when spent at home," said Ashok Sekar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author on the story.

Per seven day trip, energy intensity when you are travelling is actually 201,600 times than per minute when spent at home.

And yet, it is not uncommon to gain weight while travelling.

mockturtle said...

Why should they go out when their entire world is in their phones?

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PeachTreeStreet said...

Sloth is not laziness, per se. Sloth is the sin of "knowing the good you ought to do and doing it not".

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I say this with all due affection and respect, but the thing about people who get older and set in their ways is that they don't realize that that is what they are doing. They think they are correct about things like it's awesome to sit in a 50 degree house or going to movies sucks or Dylan is endlessly fascinating or looking at a photo = experiencing a different location. No, that's just your personality/preferences/comfort zone, not some kind of actual correct position.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

At tourist destinations, the locals who talk to you are serving you and want your business. They are shopkeepers and waiters and hotel staff who must put on a front. You've got to be a fool to think you are learning about another culture by interacting with them.

This is lame and condescending from someone who does not travel. Yeah, no shit Sherlock, I'm pretty sure when people go to a luau in Hawaii and get 'lei'd' they know they are not in fact 'honorary Hawaiians!'

Michael said...

I pity the person who does not travel but could. They deny themselves so much. You can read about the crush of traffic in a Central American city but you cannot smell it, can't see the joy on the face of a kid on a motorcycle belching smoke or the grim worker threading through or hear the din of the diesels and the motorcycles or in the evenings see the teens circling the zocolo, the men walking counter the women. The colors, smells, fabrics.

Travel provides thousands of visual or aural madeleines, stored for the future.

Ann Althouse said...

“Anyone who seriously believes that reading about a location or seeing it on a tube is the same thing as actually experiencing it is at best parochial and at worst ignorant. Most of the time you would not even know what to look for because the real pleasures of traveling are not documented in some book or on a you tube video or in a tourist guide. ”

I certainly wasn’t referring to reading travel guides. I was thinking of reading serious books about history and culture.

When I travel, it is not at all about encountering people. I have such high sensitivity to intruding on other people that you would not believe it. I feel very strongly that other people mostly don’t want to be bothered. So I am not going to go on a trip to get access to other people. I go on a trip to see landscapes, architecture, and art — just to see things and walk around and take photographs. I enjoy that but also suffer from loneliness and homesickness.

By the way, what are “ the real pleasures of traveling”? I don’t know how you can assume you know anything but what you subjectively like.

Ann Althouse said...

“I pity the person who does not travel but could. They deny themselves so much. You can read about the crush of traffic in a Central American city but you cannot smell it, can't see the joy on the face of a kid on a motorcycle belching smoke or the grim worker threading through or hear the din of the diesels and the motorcycles or in the evenings see the teens circling the zocolo, the men walking counter the women.”

Written by a man.

Become a woman, do it again, and report back.

Have you ever been sexually assaulted?

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

By the way, what are “ the real pleasures of traveling”?

New experiences, each one just around the corner. And they are enjoyed three ways: In the planning, in the experience itself and in the recollection. But if someone enjoys a stationary life, no amount of persuasion will alter his or her perspective.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Become a woman, do it again, and report back.

Have you ever been sexually assaulted?

1/30/18, 3:28 PM

Althouse has a point. There are a lot of places on earth men can venture and while it might be dangerous for them, it would be beyond foolhardy for women to travel there alone or in the company of other women. Even traveling with a man can be problematic. My BIL's daughter went traveling with her husband around SE Asia the year after they were married and she found it risky to venture out without him. She dressed modestly and tried to conform to local mores, but her long blonde hair drew a great deal of attention, much of it unwanted.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Regarding striking up conversations with the natives: I enjoyed making small talk with people from other countries when I encountered them on the Mall in DC or sitting at the table next to mine in a restaurant. I liked finding out where they were from, what they liked or didn't like about the city, what things they might have noticed that an American would not. The northern Europeans frequently bitched about the climate and a Japanese girl told me that the squirrels fascinated her because they are to be found only in zoos in Japan. I didn't know that!

Since I liked talking to tourists, I assume that some of the people I struck up conversations with when I was abroad liked talking to me. It was fairly easy to tell when they really didn't want to be bothered and then I backed off and left them alone. Many wanted to practice their English with me.

D said...

I generally have no issue with the traveller, the tourist, the non traveller, the non tourist, the local who knows everyone, the shy one in the corner that knows more than they let on, the one who doesnt know but listens, the one who risks being made the fool because they talk first, the hotel sales staff, the local who will provide directions, the local who wants to chat longer, beyond "turn left at Elm", the local who doesnt care one whit if you get lost going to the operahouse or the water slide, the ones who read the little blurb below the statue in the park, the one who takes pictures of the park, or close ups of the same flowers every day, or even the guy who puts google earth on autopilot and let you cruise down a country road west of wheeling west va.

(I swear I did that when it first came out. It doesnt seem as readily possible anymore.)

Anyhoo, I am with buyawa on one clear point. Is it up to me to tell you how to use the energy that you have at your disposal??? Since when?? At its root: isnt that like me telling someone what to read, who to talk to, what to eat, what to wear, what job you should do, what you are allowed to say.........

You be you, and let me be me. Its a big world. Travel, or not. I'm not the boss.

Paddy O said...

"I have such high sensitivity to intruding on other people that you would not believe it. I feel very strongly that other people mostly don’t want to be bothered."

I'm the exact same way! I've not heard anyone else describe it like this.

I've used the analogy of houses. Some people see other people like homes that have the gates open and everyone sitting on the porch. I see other people with their gates closed and the doors shut. I can knock if I need something, but only then.

I wonder if this is because I don't really want to be bothered, so I see other people the same way. It's not really shyness in the typical way, which denotes a lack of confidence or insecurity. It really is that sensitivity about intruding.

buwaya said...

The question of risk is a difficult thing.
Its absolutely true that women are more at risk of assault and rape.
Or even just of being taken advantage of through intimidation.

And then there is the mainly-male value of holding ones life cheap.
To laugh at danger.
Its still current, and I hope it always will be.
Women, not so much, and with good reason.

There are some women though, like my aunt the nun, who likewise laugh at danger.
Literally so, in her case.
These women are rare and very special.
She was until recently working in the Thai-Burmese border.

buwaya said...

"Some people see other people like homes that have the gates open and everyone sitting on the porch."

This is the society I grew up in. Given days were open house around merienda time, and any neighbor could drop by and chat, be offered coffee and a plate of what was on offer, to gossip and discuss whatever. We saw quite a parade come through. Vietnamese diplomats (we were near their embassy), Soviet trade reps, Mormon missionaries, you name it.

I recall the day, in the 1970's, when a wandering Japanese student came through our open gate, and got to chatting with my grandmother, who hated the Japanese with a passion.

mockturtle said...

Having never visited a third-world country [unless one counts Mexico], I can't speak to the safety issue. But meeting people in foreign countries or in different part of this one is part of the pleasure. Having always been somewhat xenophilic and having worked with as many foreign-born people as with Americans, I guess foreign-ness is part of the charm for me.

When in Japan, my husband was tied up with business most of the day, so I would venture out to see the sights alone. There were often herds of schoolboys following me around and sometimes schoolgirls who wanted to try out their English. I never felt unsafe in Kyoto or Tokyo but would not be so bold in a ME country.

mockturtle said...

As I wrote in my profile, I have traveled most of the US alone in my RV and plan to do so again. Buying a house was an unforced error on my part because I feel like I am stuck here. My dog loves it, though. He's happiest in a real house. :-)

Michael said...

Althojuse:

"Written by a man.

Become a woman, do it again, and report back.

Have you ever been sexually assaulted?"

Bizarre. Well, no I have not. And neither has my wife who has traveled extensively in places you might consider "risky" I gather you believe that the brown people are a danger to women. A lot of women, very conservative women by the way, are not afraid of the brown people or even the brown men.

buwaya said...

"Have you ever been sexually assaulted?"

By women.

Michael K said...

There are a lot of places on earth men can venture and while it might be dangerous for them, it would be beyond foolhardy for women to travel there alone or in the company of other women.

I was going to take my daughter to Egypt to see the pyramids, etc. Not after the scene in Tahrir Square in 2011.

No more Egypt.

exiledonmainstreet said...

" I gather you believe that the brown people are a danger to women. "

Put away that tattered old racism card. The issue is culture, not race. A woman might hesitate before traveling alone around southern Italy. It seems insulting to not honor the rules of a particular culture, to assume they will be just fine with a woman larking around by herself because they should be just fine with it.

Camille Paglia has written of feeling envious when a male student of hers described sleeping out under the stars in the shadow of the Pyramids because she realized there is a male world of solo adventure she could not participate in. Paglia is no faint-heart either.

That said, I think D has it right. Travel or don't travel and really, it's up to you where you go. I have no desire to dictate to others either.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Camille Paglia has written of feeling envious when a male student of hers described sleeping out under the stars in the shadow of the Pyramids because she realized there is a male world of solo adventure she could not participate in. Paglia is no faint-heart either.

That man, if alone, was in danger just as a woman would have been. The Middle East is full of bandits. Clueless Western tourists with fat wallets need to be careful in many parts of the world regardless of gender.

buwaya said...

"That man, if alone, was in danger just as a woman would have been."

Probably so. But the male response is different. Its a matter of value judgment.
Its not irrational, just a different cost:benefit ratio.

RichardJohnson said...

I do very little traveling nowadays. A plane trip I took last year was the first one I had made in 8 years. While I have spent a lot of time in Latin America, most of the time was outside the ordinary tourist experience: working or staying with friends who were natives of the country. I would be very uncomfortable needing to depend on the services of a translator, which helps explain why I stuck to Latin America.

Temujin said...

There's not much traveling involved when you have no car, no job, and you're trying to get to the next level of Zelda. Save the planet.

jaydub said...

"By the way, what are “ the real pleasures of traveling”? I don’t know how you can assume you know anything but what you subjectively like."

Nor can you, although from your comments it seems you are more afraid of travel (or strangers?) than opposed to travel. It's very safe to sit in the comfort of one's house and read about the world, it's very different to experience it up close and personal. Otherwise, why do you not just read about hiking in Western national parks rather than going to the trouble of actually driving there and doing it? Why not just copy some photos from the internet and blog about what some author told you? Could it be that you take pleasure in actually experiencing the magnificent scenery, breathing the air and discovering out of the way places in the process? Does actually feeling the hiking trail under your feet, struggling up an incline, or standing on the edge of a sheer dropoff not enhance the written description of any national park? Well, I feel the same about listening to an Andre Rieu CD or youtube video. The music might be the same, but there is no substitute for sitting on the big square in Maastricht, among the thousands of people from all over the world who have come for the same reasons as you, and listening to great music and enjoying it together. I can't do that without going to Maastricht, just like you can't really appreciate Zion without walking it. Nor can you share the experience with Meade if you are only reading about it and not actually there, just like I can't share the experience with my wife if we are not both there. So, to me the real pleasures of traveling are the opportunities and the experiences it facilitates as well as the great people, good food and good times it provides along the journey. That doesn't come from a book.