"People who see themselves primarily as victims are doomed." -- Louise Erdrich, "The Sentence"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why I Don't Like to Travel

     I think I'm feeling a little dyspeptic and curmudgeonly today, in part because I've been looking at expedia, homeaway and other travel sites. Also, this post is at least partly in response to my friend Meryl Baer's post called Top Ten Reasons I Travel. And so I hope this is taken with the tongue-in-cheek spirit in which it's intended.

     Besides, it's not that I hate traveling, detest vacations, or am afraid to be away from home. I say, if you want to travel, go right ahead! It's just that, sometimes, I get the feeling that if you're retired, and you don't travel, then people think you're not making the most of your retirement, and you're somehow letting everyone down.

Are we having fun yet?
     Now, I admit that I've been going to Florida, or else Arizona or southern California, every year since I left work in 2002. But the motivation behind that is not the search for adventure, but the search for warmth, the need to escape cold, snowy weather. I simply want to stop shivering for a couple of weeks.

     B and I have also taken some vacations that require a few hours of driving -- to Cape Cod, western New York, South Carolina. We've made many trips to Pennsylvania where B has family. But I do it . . . not reluctantly, really, but I do it hesitantly, because . . . well, because I don't really like to travel.

     Why not? Here are my Top 10 reasons:

     1)  I don't like to drive. I mean, I don't mind driving around town, but the prospect of a three or four or five hour drive leaves me with a feeling of dread. Driving is so boring, as you stare for hours at the unending and unvarying ribbon of road ahead of you, only punctuated by the drug-addled truck driver who lumbers uphill at 40 mph, then careens downhill at 80 mph (and you know his brakes don't work!), or else the occasional crazy NASCAR wannabe who suddenly jumps into your rear-view mirror, then tailgates for ten minutes before lurching around and shooting ahead, usually without so much as the use of his or her direction signal.

    2)  I hate flying even more. The long, traffic-choked trip to the airport; the police-state atmosphere of the airport terminal. And then . . . they pack you into this aluminum tube and jettison you off into the skies, whether it's dark or raining or snowing, no matter what. And that's before air turbulence sets in and the wings start flapping up and down!

     3) I do not like walking around and looking at things -- like a museum, a park, a "picturesque" neighborhood. Or, why-oh-why do we always at some point when we're on vacation, end up in a mall?

     4) We have friends who've been trying to get us to go on a cruise. See # 2) above, except you're trapped on a big smelly boat, not in a claustrophobic cylindrical tube, and you're not breathlessly waiting for the air pocket portending sudden death, but that first lurch in your stomach signaling a major episode of food poisoning and the subsequent violent emission of bodily fluids.

     5) Then you get to your hotel. I don't stay in the presidential suite of a five-star hotel. I'm in one smallish room that smells of disinfectants, with two big beds and barely enough room to turn around. It's simply not as comfortable as my bedroom at home.

Which one is mine?
     6)  Along the same lines, a lot of things you do when you travel are exactly the same things you do when you're at home! You eat; you sleep; you go for a walk; you sit on a lounge chair and read a book. Why is reading a book on a hot sandy beach, slathered in creams and oils, while still exposing yourself to skin cancer, any better than sitting at home and reading a book in the comfort of your own well-worn easy chair? Then there's golf. I like to play golf. I have my usual group at home, and we play at any one of about a dozen perfectly good public courses available to us within a half-hour drive. You go on vacation, you end up with a bunch of strangers on a golf course that's too difficult, too unfamiliar, too frustrating . . . and to add insult to injury, it's too expensive!

     7) You inevitably get lost.

     8) I don't like being a "tourist." I don't know what I'm doing. So it makes me feel like a "mark."

     9) The alternative is the packaged tour. And that makes me feel like a "customer" who's buying a standardized "product" . . . and the person who's smiling at me is smiling only because they're angling for a generous tip.

     10) A lot of places you go -- especially if you go too far -- they don't even speak English! What are you supposed to do then?!?

     Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to expedia and homeaway and figure out what I'm going to do this winter. Florida, or Arizona? I gotta book a flight, and find a place to stay, and figure out what I'm going to do. Hey . . . I said I didn't like it. I didn't say I don't do it!


June said...

I have felt, for a long time, that the main pleasure of traveling is Coming Home.

Since we moved to our hill, I have a handy excuse. When people ask me why we never go on vacation, I tell them there's no place nicer than where I live.
It works for me.

Anonymous said...

I travel because of weather. I like to feel and live in different, comfortable climates. And until I find just ONE spot that give me the mountains, the beaches, the city, the country, the rural, the urban, I will keep on traveling.
I've found three great locations that I return to throughout the year PLUS one travel surprise (a new location that I've never been to before and won't be returning to) So, that makes 4 mandatory locations per year. No one place on earth can deliver this lifestyle to me. So, I travel.
Good luck.

stephen Hayes said...

Mrs. C. And I travel a lot and have had all the negative experiences you mention, but this is the only world we have and We want to see it while we're healthy enough to enjoy it.

Florence said...

I have the additional airport pleasure of a full body pat down every time because I am disabled and cannot stand to go through the body scanner.

Meryl Baer said...

OK, you are right that there are a lot of great reasons to stay home! But for now, while still 'young' and healthy enough to withstand the beatings travel places on our minds and bodies, I will continue to hit the road.

DJan said...

I travel to visit my sister and occasionally to southern California where it's warm during the winter months here. I can relate to every one of your ten. And the best part of travel is coming home to my own comfy nest. :-)

Anonymous said...

We must travel to see our only child, we so prefer to go to seattle and see her..She used to live there and knows the city well..I would never go on a cruise, too many things happen on the boat the cruise lines never tell you and it ain't good..I prefer my own bed and to be truthful most places to eat are not up to anything and taste well it is out the door, we once got to stay in the presidential suite at a shi shi resort here in Washington state, it had many bedrooms and baths with jetted tubs, yet we only used one tub and shower and slept in the same room, never seeing our only who cared about messing up the other rooms for the housekeeping staff? we even tipped well and most of the housekeeping staff said the people from Europe did not put a dime down for the housekeeping staff and ordered room service and complained a lot! Can you imagine that, staying in a 5 star resort and treating the entire housekeeping and other staff like crap, no I thought it was terrible and this was Christmas mind you busy and more busy..We came home happy, seeing our only child but to tell the truth she stayed 2 days in her own room since she was a baby doll & slept like a log and her daddy and mom too..I say travel is for the young and unecombered and for the hearty who can't stay in their own skin..just my opinion but really, the sping will come eventually we usually have a lot of rain and dark days many in this area I know the time is changing when I awake to take my morning walk and it is lighter outside...I am not fond of Arizona and or Florida I lived in southern and central and northern californis when I was young and single and it was a heaven in my mind and opinion on earth NOT SO MUCH ANYMORE. happy HALLOWEEN THIS WEEK, SOON Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas and then New Years eve, as I get older the holidays come and go at a fast speed, ciao!

Anonymous said...

Yes in Western Europe the staff is not paid $8 per hour like in US ,so people are not aware that they have to live tip,
People that work in the hotels in Australia are paid casual rates $20 per hour and do not expect tip.
Maybe you should find out how American behave when traveling?How they treat the staff.
About traveling ,I live near the beach in Australia,love here ,I still travel twice a year.
Regards Saffron

Tom said...

You know, with all my bitchin' and moanin', I still have this fantasy of making a trip around the world. I'd only go to countries where they speak English (b/c that's the language I speak ... and I'm feelin' another blog post coming on about me and other Americans who can't or refuse to learn another language). Anyway, one stop would definitely be Australia. But, in truth, this trip will probably always remain a fantasy.

Karen D. Austin said...

My husband wants to go on a cruise, but I am not a big eater (and I have dietary restrictions for being hypoglycemic), and I would feel very trapped in that situation. If it were a fitness cruise where they had a great gym, fun fitness instructors and gourmet vegetarian food, I'd think about it. Oh, and daily ports of call with NO shopping but with a well-informed tour guide to talk about the history, culture, art, architecture and economics of each site. Then maybe.

Anonymous said...

The older I get the more I dislike traveling. But, there is always a reason to go, isn't there?

Janette said...

Dislike driving long distances, but I do it several times a year.
Dislike flying, but I cram myself into a seat at least five times a year.
It is what it is. We are living 1200 miles from our families- either direction. Our travels will continue for a long time. :)

We are planning to go to Turkey, by ourselves, in two years. It will be the first "non family" vacation in almost ten years. Now you have me thinking about tour bus or on our own. AGGGG! Maybe we will just go to Hawaii again - the people speak English there!

Anonymous said...

Well reacher end and argued Tom. Although you wrote this in the spirit of jest, you do point out some good reminders.
1/ the open road is no longer open;
2/ mass transportation is a mess these days;
3/ hotel rooms are hit or miss. I have done everything from five star to small hotel to B&b to private homes. There is always something good and bad about every room. I hate windows that don't open because room air conditioners harbor mold. I hate picturesque because it's always dusty. Some hotels have problems with bed bugs, some with other intruders. I stay with my kids from time to time, but that too has its ups and downs.

Did you ever see the film 'Bird on a Wire' with Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson? That about sums up travel for me.

Tabor said...

I hate the reserving, the booking the searching for what to see and do. ONce I am there it is just fine and I can put up with a few disappointments. Someday I will be too old...so travel now for the memories.

Gabbygeezer said...

Just about the time our interest in traveling started to decline we moved to a new house a couple of blocks down the road from our son's house. Sometimes things simply work out for the best with the help of a dash of dumb luck.

Olga said...

Have to say I do like travel most of the time. I have been a few air flights from hell though.

Friko said...

Tom, I don’t like it and I DON’T do it either.

I keep promising myself that I’ll get off my lazy behind and make that trip someday, but then the reality of the thing hits me and I stay at home, where I have everything my heart desires.

I’ve been in many airports (they’re all the same) during my working life, stayed in soulless, identical large hotels and complained about food poisoning; I’ve breathed in mass-produced, recycled air and had the colds and sore throats that automatically come afterwards; why would I do it all for fun now that I don’t need to do it?

Luxury travel, luxury hotels, yes, fine. Even a leisurely drive, with frequent stops in small country restaurants that come recommended, fine.
Package tours? No thanks.

Kirk said...

I traveled a lot for business and have been to 30+ countries, and there are a lot more I want to visit. Obviously flying these days is no fun, and it never was really a pleasure. But it's the price to be paid for getting there.

Of course, I do like walking around seeing things, and I never get lost. Hotel rooms are a non-issue for me as I try to spend as little time in them as I can. One of the great pleasures of travel for me is eating local food prepared by locals. No chain fast food overseas, ever.

I travel independently; no packaged tours or cruises, and I rarely make up a schedule other than the flights.

Theresa Jackson (Enlightened Journeys Travel) said...

I love all your posts and comment -and the blog. I hear so many of the same things from my clients. I am a travel expert who helps discerning mature people fulfill any travel dreams they might have- and avoid much of the unpleasantness you all so aptly mention in your comments. Granted, there are the "fly by the seat of your pants" travelers out there (and here as well), but not everyone likes to travel that way. And if you don't, then I can assure you a travel professional is the way to go to maximize your budget, take the guesswork out of your arrangements and day-to-day itinerary while away (including the free time you desire), make the trip comfortable to YOUR standards, and help you travel according to your personal style and comfort level. A group tour or cruise is not the only way to go- ask a reputable travel pro!

Michael Ruth said...

First post I have ever seen that you don't like travelling. Well, If you travel abroad. You can explore a lot of beautiful places. So, never decide you don't like travelling.
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