Welcome to First Church of the Streets a Free nonfiction E-Zine that explores all areas of reality, updated by the 1st of the month.

September 2005
Photo Copyright © 2005 John B.

byJessica Kuzmier

     The idea of travel brings images of leisure and pleasure in the minds of many. Idyllic scenes at beaches and ski resorts invade the busy mind. The idea of "getting away from it all" is something that can be heard in offices everywhere around the Western world. Travel can be seen as an effortless venture that is meant to soothe and mellow out the nerves.

     However, anyone who has stood in lines at the airport, or landed in Seattle only to find out that their luggage has arrived in Tokyo, or had a rental car break down in the middle of the desert, can attest that even the most leisure ridden escapade can be anything but leisure. Hence, one comes home to take a "vacation from the vacation". In this era where terrorism is at the forefront, one is beseeched to check out the State Department warnings just as often as one checks to see if weather will cancel his or her plans. And these are just those who travel for "leisure".

     Those who travel very often for business can attest that there is as much hassle with traveling as there is when one stays home. Talk to the business traveler who wearies of being put up in five star hotels in Hong Kong or Singapore and who would rather stay home with his family in suburban Detroit and have a barbeque. The very things that people wish to get away from is what he would embrace as leisure.

     Then there are those who travel for long term intervals. Some people obtain a work visa in a foreign country. Some people are professional travelers. These people might have a contract to write a book if they visit an agreed upon destination. Though many attest to relishing the adventure, most will claim that the adventure has nothing to do with leisure or a relaxing time. If one is accustomed to a flat in London with all the accouterments of the "First World", and then spends a year teaching reading in Bangladesh, there are probably more hassles involved than moments of sensual relaxation.

     And, of course, regardless of where one goes, there is always the challenge of trying to cross cultural divides. The traveler wonders if one's everyday behavior in his or her native territory is a source of hostility in the new one. This could affect someone going from Germany to Morocco, or a young woman from rural Pennsylvania visiting colleges in Philadelphia. Just being away from familiar territory raises questions of cultural etiquette.

     So then, why bother with all of this? If travel is such a hassle, why not just stay home, unless your in-laws demand you fly from Minneapolis to Tampa for the holidays? Life has enough problems at home. It's like you're looking for trouble otherwise. Or at least it would seem so.

     The best travel expands somebody so that he/she sees things differently once he/she gets home. Maybe once you get through the hassles at the airport in Miami, you and your spouse get to reconnect like you've never done before. Or once you get the GPS working in the rented RV in the Ozarks, you see a side of your family you never knew. Maybe you are a woman traveling alone. You've been told that as a female, you were helpless and couldn't do anything solo without breaking down. A month or even a weekend of camping in the wilderness by yourself will do much to offset that belief.

     One can get a strong sense of accomplishment from being willing to break out of a normative mode. Travel is one way that this can be done. Whether the goal is relaxation or to experience another culture, travel tends to change the person who undertakes it. Whether one acknowledges these changes, and what the person does once the journey is over, is up to the individual traveler.


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