and the joy of localism
I recently reviewed Chris Guillebeau's book The Art of Non-Conformity. Thanks for all your comments!
I said in the review though that I was annoyed by his obsession with extensive international travel for the sake of it. As Ms Sparrow said in the comments, 'Is travel for it's own sake a worthy goal? That sounds quite conformist to me.' My thoughts exactly!
Now, let me make it clear I'm not against travel. I lived in Malawi for two years and have visited several European and African countries. Some people reading this blog may have close friends and family who live a long way away whom you visit frequently.
These days we take almost all our holidays in the UK. The last foreign holidays we had were added on after the time I spent at conferences in Italy and Germany. There are many reasons I choose to holiday in the UK, including avoiding the stress of long distance travel and the many wonderful scenic holiday destinations we have in this country. We've also been remarkably lucky with the weather when we've had holidays in the UK. Even this summer of no summer weather across most of the UK (including Edinburgh), we had beautiful weather when we were up in the north west of Scotland.
So, I get really irritated when people say to me 'so when are you next going abroad?' as though there's something wrong with me for not travelling further.
One of the main benefits of travelling abroad is to experience another culture. When I lived in Malawi, I was steeped in Malawian culture for two years and visited neighbouring African countries for long enough to get a good feel for their cultures too. When visiting countries in Europe, I've often taken part in conservation activities, working with local people and other volunteers, getting to know a specific area. Or I've stayed with friends who have been able to show me their perspectives on the local area. I've also visited several parts of Germany, so that feels like a country I know quite well, specially as I speak reasonably good German.
The average two week holiday abroad though doesn't usually give the option for those kinds of experience. Jet lag, resort hotels and organised tours are all examples of holiday experiences that count against the best things about being abroad. I find that two weeks, specially if I don't speak the language is rarely enough time to get to know a culture anyway, though the activity based trips I mentioned offer a good introduction.
Of course a main reason for an environmentalist to avoid too much international travel is to avoid the carbon footprint of lots of air travel. I've travelled through Europe mostly by train and through African mostly by bus. In the UK we travel by bus and train. Though when we holiday in remote parts of Scotland (and even some not so remote parts to be honest) we often hire a car. We found after one holiday spent in school buses and hitching lifts that there can be limits to public transport. I have flown, yes, but I have tried to limit it as much as possible.The main thing is though, I don't feel I miss out at all by not taking a foreign holiday every year, there's so much to see and do in this country.
If you're in the UK, you may be interested in the UK Staycation website, full of ideas for British holidays, no guarantee on the weather though....
If you're concerned about the growth of the aviation industry in the UK, please visit Plane Stupid and Airport Watch.
So what are your feelings about staycations? Do you feel your foreign holidays (not including visits to family and close friends) are essential to your life?
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other web-pages where you can find out more.