In the recent past, the notion of an exotic travel destination was predominately the province of the very wealthy. Not so any more. Today, very average Americans typically target travel to once …
In the recent past, the notion of an exotic travel destination was predominately the province of the very wealthy. Not so any more. Today, very average Americans typically target travel to once thought of far-flung places like the Galapagos, Antarctica, Iceland, Patagonia, Africa and of course, all the usual European destinations. That includes Italy and Venice, in particular.
In a recent travel article, “Six Ways to Avoid the Tourist Logjam in Venice,” (New York Times, August 2), the travel-minded authors somewhat absurdly suggest that indeed you can be a part of the Venetian tourist mania without really being a part of it.
Not unlike the thinking of people who sit helplessly mired in a massive traffic jam while wondering why there are so many cars.
Here and abroad, too many like-minded travelers are the fundamental cause of many a fouled travel experience.
Also, the planet has noticed our frenzied travel efforts and it clearly does not approve.
Vacation travel is a growing worldwide dilemma. Somewhat like bad elective surgery, elective travel to distant lands in order to wait in a queue is a frustrating experience for any traveler. Lines of tourists in the scorching heat of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, sweltering in summer in a seemingly endless line at Florence’s Da Vinci Museum or even jostling for oxygen among rarified crowds of expert climbers at the summit of Mt. Everest seems anathema to what travelers claim to be traveling for.
Concomitant with a modern traveler’s often degraded experience is the climatic impact on our world. Google says that the average American annually spews a carbon footprint (carbon dioxide/methane gases) of 4.6 tons into our atmosphere. This compares to a worldwide average of 2.6 tons; the wealthy citizens of Qatar are topping out at a whopping average of 36 tons each and the desperately poor of East Timor, Tonga, Eritrea, etc. at less than 0.5 tons per person.
For some perspective, according to Icelandic Air, a quick round-trip hop from Baltimore to Reykjavik, Iceland adds 0.7 tons of carbon to each traveler’s footprint—and there are millions of such travelers. Of course, when one arrives at the truly glorious volcanic block of melting ice that is Iceland, since almost every consumable is imported, the vacation traveler will ultimately create many more tons of greenhouse gases.
Am I suggesting you should stay home? Emphatically, no. But perhaps our destination choices are not so exotic and rather much more common than we might first think. If a destination is bandied about on the internet, guaranteed you will end up in a crowd.
Finally, choose your travel wisely and, more importantly, sparingly. The environment does not need another superliner cruise to the pristine waters of Antarctica to further degrade those waters with the refuse of some 1,000 passengers and the raw exhaust of massive diesel engines.
Take the hint: almost everywhere, it’s too hot, smoky and rainy, and it’s getting hard to tell which season it is. Maybe NEPA is not Australia, but then, it is likely that Australia is on fire.
John Pace lives in Honesdale, PA.
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