Category Archive 'Travel'

21 Jun 2016

Travel and Social Privilege

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TravelPrvilege

We learned yesterday that parks are for white people. Today, Katherine DM Clover explains that travel is a privilege and that talking about travel is classist.

When the topic of travel comes up amongst friends or acquaintances, I either try to change the subject, or I try to convince everyone (myself included) that I don’t travel more because I’m just a homebody, OK?

I’m just more focused on trying to make this place the sanctuary of my dreams, rather than going other places.

Friends, if I have ever tried to sell you on that idea, hear me now: That is a lie.

I don’t travel much because I’m poor.

I’m more only “more focused on my home” in the sense that, well, my money has to be focused toward paying my rent so I don’t get evicted. My money also ends up getting focused toward buying groceries because I like eating food, and also, as a mammal, need it to survive.

Being able to travel great distances, just for the sheer joy of it, is actually an enormous privilege, one that has been out of most people’s reach, historically.

Air travel has made it somewhat more accessible, but the modern travel obsession still requires advanced technology, leisure time, and — critically — the expendable income to pay for it.

And while technology has certainly made it easier to get from place to place, in some ways things, haven’t changed much.

While the middle and upper classes may celebrate the many advantages of a life filled with travel (“It’s educational! It makes you a more well rounded person!”), on the other end of the spectrum, there are still plenty of low-income people who rarely have the chance to leave their neighborhood, let alone their city.

And what does that look like for the global poor? I don’t have the stats on this, but I have a hard time imagining people who live on $2 a day taking vacations.

Aside from money, being able to travel safely and easily is still often dependent on privilege. For people with disabilities, any form of travel can pose myriad potential problems. For folks who aren’t white or are visibly LGBTQIA, travel can mean opening oneself up to harassment and even the very real risk of violence.

I’m not saying travel can’t be lovely and educational; it certainly can be. I’m also not claiming there aren’t less expensive ways to get from place to place; there undoubtedly are.

What I am saying, though, is that travel is complicated and it is often dependent on a certain amount of privilege.

I don’t get out much — and it’s not because I’m boring or don’t have a sense of adventure or don’t care about learning about the larger world: It’s because I’m broke.

And when you hold travel up on some kind of pedestal, you sound classist as hell, and I wish you would stop that.

Whole thing.

In the final analysis, isn’t being currently alive and not a member of “the great majority” the biggest “privilege” of all? And, yet, we can rely upon perfect equality being achieved eventually for all of us.

08 Jan 2016

World-Travelling Couple Breaks Up After China

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AleshaJarryd

Buzzfeed:

China turned us into bad people. The pushing, the shoving, the pollution, the spitting, the lack of respect toward the environment and their fellow human beings, the oily food, the wasteful attitude that is now ingrained in their psyche, we could go on. This is not to say we didn’t have great experiences and meet wonderful people, because we definitely did. But those moments were far less common for us. We hate being negative, and it may sound arrogant or pathetic, but that is the truth.

We would snap at each other over small things, and these minor arguments would turn into all-day affairs. Alesha would get angry at me over trivial matters, and I would retaliate. In the end I stopped being the caring partner that I should be. I neglected Alesha’s feelings and she would attack me for neglecting her. I continued to neglect her because I couldn’t stand being attacked. It was a vicious cycle.

Alesha started to resent travel, and I grew numb to it. Nothing excited us anymore. Just like you can lose your passion for a hobby when it becomes a job, we’re starting to become jaded with travel.

We hadn’t done proper exercise for longer than we could remember,” Salem wrote, “ate a lot of dodgy foods that had little nutritional value and put on weight. This just made us feel even more down. Alesha has always said that if your stomach is happy, you are happy. Well after the diet we experienced across China, Mongolia and Central Asia, our stomachs definitely weren’t happy.”

“At some point we sat down and realized that the best thing for us was to go our separate ways for a while, to give ourselves a break from each other.”

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

12 Jun 2014

No Bookstore “Will Literally Change Your Life”

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PolareBookstore
And you won’t be able to visit this Polare Bookstore, formerly located in a 13th Century Dominican Church in Maastricht, Netherlands. Polare went bankrupt last January.

But, even so, gush and misuse of “literally” notwithstanding, I recommend this Buzzfeed feature. I had not known myself that Brattle’s, in Boston, had actually reopened after the disastrous 1980 fire. Had I realized it still existed, I would definitely have dropped in every time I was in Boston.

27 Apr 2014

40 Spectacular Places

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Alcazar

40 remarkable photos of off-the beaten-path tourism wonders.

09 Oct 2006

A Train Ride With Oxygen

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Suzy Bennett, in the Telegraph, takes the ten-day Beijing to Lhasa rail tour.

The final 15 hour, 710 mile (1143 km) stretch from Golmud in China’s western Qinghai province to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, was only opened last July 1st. The carriages are pumped full of oxygen, and a supplementary supply is available by tube, since the route reaches a height of 16,640ft (5072 meters). As Bennett writes, breathlessly:

There are no crampons or ice picks in our gear. Instead we – a band of 77 rail enthusiasts, retirees and foreign journalists – have crammed altitude-sickness pills, painkillers and oxygen supplies into our bags in the hope of combating the effects of our journey across the roof of the world. We are the first group of Western holidaymakers to take Tibet’s new Sky Train and, although carriages will be pumped with supplementary oxygen, no one – not even the doctor who is accompanying us -knows whether it will be enough. At best we have been told to expect breathlessness, tiredness and headaches; at worst, pulmonary oedema or death.

If the railway causes a headache for its passengers, it has proved a chronic migraine for the engineers. A constantly freezing and melting permafrost along the route has meant that a network of pipes has had to be driven into the ground to pump liquid nitrogen and cold air beneath the track to keep it frozen all year round. Just four weeks after the line opened, the Chinese government admitted that global warming had raised temperatures faster than expected and that the foundations had begun sinking into the permafrost. The day before our group boarded the train, one of the dining cars derailed 250 miles from Lhasa. No one was hurt, but it sparked fears about what would have happened if the oxygen supply to the 600 passengers had been cut off.


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