Tonawanda News

January 11, 2013

The case for staying home

--
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — There are people who lead enviable lives, in their heads. They go places, do things, meet and influence people, in their heads. Their real lives tend to be more like prisons, with underemployment typically giving them ample time to daydream. Jobs they can do without thinking about their jobs, and I’ve had a few like that myself.

These people have a special kind of pathos about them, but lately I believe they’re onto something.

Do you enjoy travel? Or do you prefer thinking about travel? 

I have been to many, many places, and maintain a short list of locales I’d still like to visit (or return to), but believe me, the list is a short one. I am beginning to think taking a trip is just not worth the trip.

Ever want to see Stonehenge, in England? I’ve been there, twice, and glad of it, but I would not spend the requisite time, money and hassle to do it again.

Ever seen dawn in India, sunset in Thailand or an Olympics? I haven’t, but I need not leave my house to understand how spectacular they are. 

I am of the opinion the places one is more and more eager to experience are becoming less and less desirable as attractions. The way football is presented so well on television it is impacting the actual attendance at the game, I’m concluding I’m living through the start of a golden age in the world coming to me.

Just like those people whose lives are unremarkable and unenviable, except in their heads.

Marveling over the Internet is what’s pushing me toward not lusting after an exotic trip somewhere. Even those of us whose idea of fun is the Smithsonian Institution or the British Library, or taking the steps to look up some genealogy, can get the legwork done by sitting at a computer terminal.

Granted, standing in line to ascend the Eiffel Tower, and looking at a screen depicting the line of tourists awaiting the same, are not the same thing. It’s close enough, though, when you factor in the euros and the hours and the inconvenience.

I’ve been to Las Vegas, a number of times. Fascinating place, but lately every part of America is becoming more like Las Vegas. Do some gambling, see a show. Everyone is within driving distance of that experience, now.

So, why is the tourism industry thriving? 

Well, not every potential customer is as jaded and worn as I am, some customers have families whose lust for exploring the world won’t be satisfied until the family visits Disney World, and more and more places have potentially marketable attractions; it was only two years ago that Buffalo realized all those old brick buildings, the ones the city had not gotten around to flattening, made some “architectural tourism” adherents nearly faint with excitement.

Marketable attractions now include “eco-tourism,” wherein tourists visit alleged jungles, deserts and other environmentally pristine places somehow shorn of their danger and menace to better accommodate people with money.

What you are going to drop everything in your life to see, you over there with the luggage, is becoming less and less authentic, more and more expensive, and less and less worth the effort. Boarding an airplane to see a loved one, I can understand; taking a trip to see your idea of Paris and noting the 21st century version of the place doesn’t square with the romantic notion in your head that somehow includes Angelina Jolie and a Ferrari, well ...

With the Web, and those cameras all over the place, I feel I am not missing much by staying in one place while the world comes to me. Factor in television, the ability to read, a variety of communication methods to contact friends all over the world, local purveyors of exotic foreign food and plenty of available teaching on how to prepare it, the availability of worldwide music and talk on Internet radio; what am I missing when you board the plane for Rome or Dubrovnik or Haifa, and I don’t?

In the most recent recession (I’ve lived through several of them), the term “staycation” came into vogue; it meant “vacation” from work or school or whatever, but “stay in town” because one couldn’t afford to travel. My pity these days is reserved for those who are boarding the planes and trains, hitting the highways and generally going someplace, putting up with no lack of inconvenience for the chance to see something, even though they already know what it looks like.

No doubt there are things whose impact doesn’t transfer to second-hand experience. A launch at Cape Canaveral. Niagara Falls. Holding your grandchild. For the rest, I have enough life experience to know how travel feels, and not enough familiarity with the delicious feeling of having it all available to me, on my time and space. 

Stay at home and have the world come to me. People, this is civilization.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.