October 15, 2013

"Maybe you don't think you'd get much out of it, but if it's not prohibitively expensive..."

"... maybe it's worth a try just to get commenters to stop harassing you about travel," says the jackal, commenting on my disinclination to endure 8+ hours crammed in a metal tube to see how I feel when the tube poops me out somewhere other than here. That vaunted amalgam of arrogance and humiliation that is travel — I could blog about it.

My response, at the link, ends with the phrase "readers would need to pony up something like $20,000."

44 comments:

Larry J said...

Nagging someone about whether or not to travel is just as tiresome as trying to dictate what kind of car they "need". Individuals should be allowed to make their own choices so long as they're willing to live with the consequences. If you don't like to travel, fine. I happen to enjoy it most of the time.

southcentralpa said...

I'm frankly curious. How did you get from Manhattan to Madison ... ?

Ann Althouse said...

@Larry J

Yeah, but they are responding to my talking about it, so I am inviting discourse (as you'll see if you read what I said at the link).

I am antagonizing the pro-travel crowd and I am doing so intentionally. I think it's an interesting topic and that usually people on my side of the dialogue just don't want to talk about it.

So I'm not saying don't harass me, leave me alone.

I'm saying engage with me, take on the issues, delve into the complexities and the dissonance.

cubanbob said...

$20,000? Why that's peasent class. Try $200,000. First you need a valet/butler/personal shopper and all around facilitator. Next after having him/her purchase and pack all of your travel needs he/she would have ready for you a first class breakfast and a truly luxurious vehicle ready to transport you to your private jet with all of the luxury amenities. Then when you arrive another luxury vehicle awaits you to transport you to your villa with the requisite staffing and amenities. Of course you will need a sufficent amount of time to get a semblance of the local culture. I suggest leaving in the depths of the WI winter and returning in early May from somewhere as exotic as Hawaii. No one will ever confuse Hawaii with Nebraska.

cubanbob said...

Come to think of it I miscalculated. You will need $2mm to truly go the way you should go. Get in touch with your inner Barry and do a fundraiser. Then get even further in touch with your inner Barry and ignore such bourgeoise things as imaginary credit limits and repayments. Go big or go home as the expression goes.

Balfegor said...

I guess for me, it's a question of whether more people travelling will drive prices up (increased demand) or drive prices down (increased competition/lower marginal cost per passenger/guest). And of course, how it will affect the travel experience. My inclination is that I want fewer travelers internationally, because I hate lines.

Ann Althouse said...

When I was a third grader, around the time when Hawaii became a state, I thought nothing was more important that getting to Hawaii. I imagined going to college there, living there, etc. We did the hula in school and made leis out of kleenex. I can still sing the "Hawaii" state song.

BUT these days, I hate the idea of being stranded out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You have to go so far and then you're stuck somewhere small, a place where lots of tourists go, so the indignities are great.

Now, if I could go somewhere like where Obama goes, to some rich person's private compound, where everything was posh and unspoiled and well-taken care of, I would go. But that's not what happens when you travel, unless you have rich friends who accommodate you (and whom you like spending time with).

NOTE: I'm not fishing for invitations from rich readers!

Ann Althouse said...

"because I hate lines"

Usually, at home, there are no lines.

Strelnikov said...

Forget it.

Hagar said...

I flew to England in 1999 to please my big sister. My back still hurts and I can still smell the loo on the plane.
And England was wet and cold and they drive like maniacs on the wrong side of the road.

rhhardin said...

Hawaii is tedious.

I still have two Hawaiian shirts from the Honolulu J.C.Pennys.

That's about as interesting as Hawaii gets.

I recommend several trips across the Pacific in a DC-6 to put your off travel forever.

Motels are the same everywhere.

cubanbob said...

It looks like Ann has taken my advice and got in touch with her inner Obama. Now don't hold back, go all the way like Barry and get some wealthy readers to treat you to St. Barts in mid winter. Don't be shy. True it's an island and a little bit far from Madison but on the other hand there aren't any pesky tourists there and the locals speak English.

John Lynch said...

I hate air travel.

I hate being herded like cattle around the inside of terminals designed to intimidate with their scale. I hate the lines. I hate the security. I hate the inexplicable delays. I hate that airlines charge to check bags, when they should be encouraging people to check their carryons to make boarding faster. I hate that baggage claim is so unreliable that air travelers are quite rational in keeping their carryons.

It all sucks. It's authoritarian. Air travel is the closest thing to prison most people in America will ever experience.

By contrast, car travel is quite relaxing. It's much harder to get lost in the era of GPS, and cars are much better engineered and comfortable than they used to be.

cubanbob said...

John if you travel in Barack's circles those problems don't exist. Of course you have to able to afford owning or leasing a private jet but on e you get past that hurdle it's all good.

MayBee said...

I don't like flying or traveling by car, but I'm fine with delayed gratification. It's worth it to me because I like visiting places both new and familiar.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I'm with you Althouse. I much prefer being here, with my people and my stuff. I do like road trips, though. Driving long distances through changing scenerey, listening to local radio, has a high Zen content.

MadisonMan said...

It's much harder to get lost in the era of GPS

I find getting lost to be an enjoyable experience. Doesn't happen very often, because I usually navigate by the Sun. I can always tell you where North is.

People seem to fear being lost in a car. What's to fear? (This question is not for people who live in Chicago, where getting lost can put you in a horrible location. I avoid that by avoiding Illinois in general).

Flying does suck.

MadisonMan said...

The worst part of airline travel: The noise in the terminal. Talk about an acoustics nightmare!

Once, I ran into a friend in an airport who allowed me to tag along into the Premier Lounge. The best part? The silence. (Well, and the free food/drink).

MayBee said...

There are parts of flying that sucks, most of it because of security theater and some of it because of some discomfort. But come on! You can knit, read, watch a movie, talk to your companion, listen to music, or just zone out. It's all completely bearable, and often worth the time investment.

Think of how the guys on the Nina, Pinta, Or Santa Maria would have puzzled at the idea that sitting on a padded seat for seven hours is an unbearable way to get from Europe to the Americas.

John Constantius said...

As a general rule I don't like to argue with other people's utility curves -- they're inherently subjective so it's hard to tell someone their curve is wrong.

However, it sounds like you're inviting a dialogue. I've noticed that the inconvenience and discomfort of air travel specifically seems to be a major theme of your posts. Perhaps it's not being in a different place you object to but the actual process of getting there?

My wife and I travel business or first class when we fly, so we don't stand in long lines and the flight itself is enjoyable. Have a drink or three, read a bit or watch a movie, then go to sleep in a comfortable flat-bed seat and wake up refreshed at the destination.

At the destination we typically stay in high end hotels like a Four Seasons. I suppose if we were staying in motels and flying coach we might think travel sucks too.

Maybe it's not travel you dislike? Maybe it's traveling "tourist class" that you dislike?

Ann Althouse said...

"My wife and I travel business or first class when we fly, so we don't stand in long lines and the flight itself is enjoyable. Have a drink or three, read a bit or watch a movie, then go to sleep in a comfortable flat-bed seat and wake up refreshed at the destination."

You're refreshed after drinking yourself to sleep on a plane. I never drink on a plane, even though at home I nearly always have a glass of wine at night. I thought it was bad for your head to drink at high altitude.

First class on the plane is nice, but if you're using your own money to get to it, it's just soooo expensive. Why not a private jet while you are at it?

"At the destination we typically stay in high end hotels like a Four Seasons."

Yeah, we do that too, when such places are available, but this is a reason why travel means hemorrhaging money. We drove to Austin, Texas and stayed at the Four Seasons, and we ended up spending $10,000 on what was just a little family-visiting trip. Now, we look back on that and think it was kind of crazy.

If you are rich enough to throw your money around, then you can travel like that.

Ann Althouse said...

All my rich readers are welcome to use the Pay Pal button in the sidebar to increase the likelihood that I can travel, given my desire to stay at the Four Seasons.

MayBee said...

I had never heard its "bad for your head" to drink on a plane. I certainly do it. Don't deprive yourself if having a glass of wine will make the experience better. It's even often free on overseas flights!

MayBee said...

Four Seasons are great, but there are some really great boutique hotels at more reasonable prices.

If there were anywhere you really did decide to go, I'll bet you'd get an amazing number of recommendations , even if you don't get donations.
Or you may find yourself enjoying Trip Advisor.

Or you may enjoy continuing to stay at home.

Balfegor said...

Re: Althouse:

Usually, at home, there are no lines.

Yes, but I do have to go to work. And I work in Washington DC. There are lines everywhere (full of people who do not know how to queue) and terrible traffic, which is just another, worse species of line.

If my hatred of lines were all-consuming, I suppose I could live and work out in the vast depopulated wilderness of the American countryside somewhere. But then I would need a car, and I hate driving (I am too poor to afford a driver).

Balfegor said...

Re: John Constantius:

My wife and I travel business or first class when we fly, so we don't stand in long lines and the flight itself is enjoyable.

The last time I flew business class out of the US I didn't have to take my shoes off for security. It was almost like living in a civilised country!

Larry J said...

Ann Althouse said...
@Larry J

Yeah, but they are responding to my talking about it, so I am inviting discourse (as you'll see if you read what I said at the link).


If you don't want to travel, stay home. That's your right. I like to travel when I can. My wife and I are leaving in 26 days for a month long vacation in Europe. Yeah, it's cold this time of year but we don't mind the cold. We like to travel and we've already paid for the trip. Our choice to travel is our right so long as we don't expect others to pay for it.

Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if you choose to stay home. Why should you care if others decide to travel? It's really none of your business.

Earnest Prole said...

I understand the need to push back against the glib grand abstract theory of modern travel (if you want to go deeper, see Daniel Boorstin’s book The Image from 1962, which makes a devastating critique). But for the sake of engagement and complexity-delving, let me push back against your pushback. If you are serious about your counter-theory, at some point it must be tested against real-world experience. Your friend Nina Camic in The Other Side of the Ocean makes one of the best arguments I’ve seen for travel. Her argument is in the form of a thousand specificities. What’s your brief against Nina’s case for travel? Anyone can indict trivial specificity; the challenge is what to say about profound specificity.

John Constantius said...

You're refreshed after drinking yourself to sleep on a plane. I never drink on a plane, even though at home I nearly always have a glass of wine at night. I thought it was bad for your head to drink at high altitude.

It would take a lot more than three drinks for me to drink myself to sleep. If you book an overnight flight you fall asleep naturally; the drinks are entertainment/relaxation. If you can't handle drinking at high altitude, then don't drink -- no one will complain.

First class on the plane is nice, but if you're using your own money to get to it, it's just soooo expensive. Why not a private jet while you are at it?

I don't have enough for a private jet but first class isn't a stretch, especially since I usually buy coach fare and upgrade with points. If I did have enough for a private jet, be assured I'd use one.

Isn't this a false choice you're presenting though? That travelers have to pick between steerage or a private jet? There are more than two options.

We drove to Austin, Texas and stayed at the Four Seasons

The Four Seasons in Austin is awful. It's hardly a Four Seasons, more like a generic business hotel. If you spent $10k on that, you really did waste your money.

My wife and I stay at the Driskill when we go to Austin, which is both better than the Four Seasons there and less expensive (though it's still quite a bit more than a motel).

If you are rich enough to throw your money around, then you can travel like that.

So I repeat: Maybe it's not travel you dislike? Maybe it's traveling "tourist class" that you dislike?

All my rich readers are welcome to use the Pay Pal button in the sidebar to increase the likelihood that I can travel, given my desire to stay at the Four Seasons.

As far as I can tell, the money would be wasted on you. You wouldn't enjoy it even if you were at the Four Seasons ("[spending that kind of money on travel] was kind of crazy").

John Constantius said...

The last time I flew business class out of the US I didn't have to take my shoes off for security. It was almost like living in a civilised country!

Yes! That was a happy (and I think fairly recent) development. The last time (a couple weeks back) they told me I could leave my laptop in the bag too -- I had to ask the guy to repeat it just to make sure he wasn't joking.

Ann Althouse said...

"What’s your brief against Nina’s case for travel?"

Did you read the post that this post links to? What do you read me to be saying? What is too hard to understand? Please be specific?

Ann Althouse said...

"The Four Seasons in Austin is awful. It's hardly a Four Seasons, more like a generic business hotel. If you spent $10k on that, you really did waste your money."

A lot of the expense was food, including food for other people.

I don't remember what we paid for the room. I agree it's not as good as other 4 Seasonses I've seen.

Where would you stay in Austin?

I've stayed at the Driskill, the Stephen Austin, and the Kimber Modern.

Martha said...

Travel is expensive. We travel only to visit family but still are amazed at how quickly expenses add up. Last weekend we flew to New York City for Family Day at NYU Law School ((Ann's alma mater). We had a wonderful three days --well worth the hassle and expense. But when we got home and my husband added up the hotel bill, airfare, and meals eaten out, he said "That is our magnificent vacation for this year."

We are paying tuition and living expenses at NYU Law School for our son so there is hope that once he graduates we will be able to travel more.

I think traveling somewhere new and immersing yourself in a different culture is rejuvenating. I envy Nina and her peripatetic ways.

John Constantius said...

Always the Driskill if it's available. We've stayed at the Driskill and the Four Seasons as both are good and allow dogs. But like yourself we expected a lot more from the Four Seasons based on others we've stayed at and now only go back if the Driskill's booked.

Our rule of thumb for the Four Seasons is that we figure out what our room cost will be and then double it to get the total cost of the stay including meals, booze, & incidentals.

Haven't tried the Stephen Austin or Kimber Modern -- would they be good replacements if the Driskill is full?

William said...

Why is it that our current phones are so much more advanced than those seen on the original Star Trek and yet there have not been any even incremental advances in beam travel. I like the experience of being in a foreign country, but the process of getting there is tedious and unpleasant. I'd like to see Eastern Europe before I die, but it's only going to happen if they can beam me there........I suppose I could afford first class air fare, but only in the way that I could afford a $100 hamburger in an expensive restaurant. I'm pretty sure the hideous expense would ruin the meal and the trip. That said, sleeper cars on trains are worth the expense in the way that fresh squeezed orange juice is justifiably worth more than concentrate.

Earnest Prole said...

I retract the argument -- I read the linked comment but not the post (yes, I know: lame) and extrapolated to your main argument against travel, while the specificity I desired was just a scroll away (as the Glimmer Twins said). The dialogue on editing for discontinuity or ideal is particularly thought-provoking.

cubanbob said...

John Constantius said...

Is it me or has air travel really gone to hell since Jimmy Carter deregulated the airline industry?

The problem with flying today along with the stupid PC security theater is that airliner's today are busses with wings and attract the same trade. Why back in those days I remember taking Pan Am flights overseas where I had a full row to myself- a full row to stretch out all to myself and sleep across the North Atlantic. Or Pacific. And they actually served real or real enough hot meals in coach! When Pan Am went bust I had 400,000 frequent travelers miles left in my account, earned the hard way by flying.

Ann's aversion is traveling with the peasants. Nothing wrong with that- that is what money is for, for those who can and are willing to afford going in a better style.

Larry J said...

William said...
Why is it that our current phones are so much more advanced than those seen on the original Star Trek and yet there have not been any even incremental advances in beam travel.


If you're thinking about the notion of converting someone to energy, beaming that energy to a destination and then reconverting that back to matter, you might want to consider the ramifications of Einstein's famous equation, E=MC^2. A little mass means a lot of energy. A mass of 100 kilograms, if converted at 100% efficiency to energy, would be roughtly the equivalent of 2000 megatons to TNT going off at once. That's likely more energy than all of America's current nuclear weapons put together. You'd better have a damned good containment system. And that's just the first problem with the concept. There are many more and they're even harder to solve.

Ann Althouse said...

I prefer the Four Seasons to the Driskill because we like being down by the lake, and I like the pool and the lounge.

If we go there again, however, we'll do the Kimber Modern. That's a very different kind of place!

ken in sc said...

Two years ago we went on a cruse. I loved it. My wife hated it. We circumnavigated Cuba without stopping in Cuba. We could see it off to the port side. We stopped in all the other places around Cuba. I loved the fact that I could sit in a bar and smoke a cigar and drink Scotch, and nobody would bitch about it. My wife was seasick the whole time. Guess how many times we are going to do that again?

RigelDog said...

Nina's travelogues are fascinating but also frustrating to me. Frustrating because I can NOT imagine how she goes to all these places and stays in off-beat but perfect hotels with little or no hassle. My travel experiences have been more like torture, especially the flying portion. We spent three days in D.C. trying to see the sights with no success. Could not figure out the metro. Were given wrong directions over and over again. Told by a tour company to catch the Duck at one spot only to find out after spending our morning waiting there that they told us the wrong address. Tried to sit on the ledge of a fountain in a public park to catch our breath in the friggin 100 degree heat (it was early May!) only to be rudely chased off by police. How does Nina go to a completely foreign land and have a virtually seamless experience? Makes me feel like a luckless idiot.

RigelDog said...

Do not plan long journeys, because whatever you believe in you have already seen. When a thing is everywhere, the way to find it is not to travel but to love.
--St. Augustine

the jackal said...

The polar opposite of Althouse in this discussion has to be Rick Steves, right? Obviously he gets his living from helping other people travel, but he seems to actually enjoy the experience a lot (and he would never stay at a Four Seasons). He seems to enjoy the experience he gets from seeing other cultures in their natural habitat, which is impossible to do even with a high resolution copy of Human Planet.

And his guide books really are the best in my experience. Maybe Professor Althouse can make some money off those too. Maybe some part of that $20k...

John Constantius said...

Ugh, Rick Steves. If travelers really want to experience a culture the way the locals do, they should spend 5 days (in some locations 6) of their 7 day trip working a boring job and eating a cobbled-together meal in a not-so-great house. They can spend the remaining day or two running errands they were too tired/busy to do during the week (in some locations they should plan to attend church as well).

That's how the locals really live pretty much everywhere. When I travel I'm specifically trying *not* to experience the culture the way the locals do. The locals take trips to get away from their everyday life, why would I take a trip to participate in it?