Maybe it’s my ancestral gypsy blood. Perhaps, it’s my natural curiosity about people and places different from mine. Whatever the reason, I love to travel, and have been fortunate enough to see many parts of our globe over the course of my lifetime. So for me, as well as for other like-minded travelers, this pandemic has placed unprecedented curbs on our lives. With a near moratorium on travel to foreign lands, we remain locked in whatever corner we currently occupy. This situation is likely to continue for some time; certainly months, and possibly years.
Americans with an itch to get outside the house have taken to the roads by car or RV, trying to find new sights and explore undiscovered nooks in this vast country of ours. People who have never driven a bus or a truck are suddenly finding that navigating an RV is quite different from driving the family van, as evidenced by broken mailboxes, destroyed shrubs, and dented vehicles. Food and lodging are still limited in many places, and restrictions on numbers of visitors are challenging to those who embark without advance planning.
An article in today’s WSJ describes the situation in France, where a third of the citizens travel abroad annually, and who now have to stay in the confines of their own land. These thwarted explorers are travelling within their own borders, often for the first time, and discovering the attractions that enticed tourists from all over the world to make their country the leading vacation destination. Free of hordes of visitors from the States, Japan, China and England, they are now able to discover for themselves the marvels of Paris, Provence, and the Loire Valley.
Travel for leisure is a relatively new phenomenon, beginning with the wealthy upper classes, mostly from England in the 1800’s, and spreading to other countries as they developed a larger, more affluent middle class. As the number of tourists increased, travel became a less elite enterprise. With the proliferation of cheap tours by large companies, “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” became a common phenomenon. For those of you who like to read, there is a new book, “The Meaning of Travel” by Emily Thomas, a professor at Durham University, who explores the history, motivation, and philosophical nuances behind our Wanderlust. She concludes her book with the observation that travel “can change the way we feel about our home places.” Don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back on the road. Until then, I will content myself by reading about places I want to explore in the future. Feel free to share your views about the travel bug, and how you are dealing with our current restrictions.
As I experienced this blog I found myself transported to Yellowstone, the Smithsonian and Disneyland and remembering them as a young boy (10-14 years old)… no traffic, no lines (or short lines), get really close to the exhibits … you could almost feel a part of them and, of course, real E – Coupon rides!!! Alas, none of these treasured memories will ever be the “real thing” again with or without the tourist crowds. 😦
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