Can Travel Get Redundant? Your Thoughts…

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just recently I was flipping through a Patagonia clothing catalog. Interspersed through the pages are articles and photography surrounding topics of travel, stewardship, and more often than not, surfing. I enjoy reading these pieces. They’re always well written, typically discuss topics of interest or importance, and are insightful. Patagonia has made its mark not only selling clothes, but selling ideas, awareness, and innovation. I respect that, even if I can’t afford any of their clothes.

That’s all beside the point, here. In the piece titled Long May it Last by Al Machinnon (from The Surfer’s Journal), I came across a photo caption explaining that stood out in my mind. As I reread it several times, I pondered the idea that even travel may become redundant and routine sometimes. “Constantly confronted with the most astounding beauty and richest history, you become blasé about ancient castles.”

I’ve had a similar thought of about how traveling in America seems to lose its glamor over time. No matter where you are, there is a baseline of experiences you can always count on: there’s a gas station at the next exit, there’s a chain coffee shop around the corner, rush hour always sucks — things like that. I’m sure it can be said about many countries where someone is from, but generally speaking for Americans, America is often just America. The quirks that make one place standout from another is great, but when you look at trips as a whole, they don’t differ all that much. Redundancy.

I’m sure that even the craziest shit you’ve ever seen — something like a lady butchering a chicken on the bus ride outside of Hong Kong — if that happened every day, you would become desensitized and accept it as normal occurrences. Redundancy.

Everyday routines of  life become monotonous, that’s no secret. If travel is your everyday life, does it then become monotonous itself. Or, does travel innately prevent that?

We’d like to hear what you think. Share your thoughts and moments of reflection in our comment section below.

[Photo: “Bored” by ?ø???_B????/Flickr]
By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at (@ExpedJon)

  • As someone who hit the road 17 years ago and hasn’t had a permanent address since, travel is also a state of mind. What I love about returning to my own country is that I also get to experience it as a visitor, to see NZ through the eyes of someone else.
    “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.”

  • Jonwick

    Some good food for thought here. Having a travel mindset everyday of your life is the ultimate goal, no matter your locale or how difficult it can be. preaching to the choir, I suppose…

  • A journey to the countryside on the weekends can change your taste after office days…

  • Grashina

    I haven’t yet been a long time traveler but I can imagine that at some point you get over-stimulated by all the new sights, sounds and tastes. Maybe you begin to appreciate them less as you know you will discover another new thing just around the corner or at least a couple of days later.

    Actually come to think of it – when I was inter railing through Italy for a month I got a bit “Oh…another amazing church. Cool.” You spoil your senses by traveling so it’s up to you to stay grounded, stay appreciative and curious

  • Elaine

    It is all in your eyes. Walking down the same city street every day can be a new experience each time if you really look carefully–notice the cat sunning on a windowsill, the freshly swept stoop, or the Spring weeds poking through the cracks in the sidewalk. We often neglect to notice the uniqueness of what is right around us. Many think the exotic is only to be found in far-away places. I maintain there are wonderful treasures all around us if we just use fresh eyes.

  • Anonymous

    It’s true, it’s always sad to run into the disenchanted long-term traveler on the road. I suppose it’s really up to the traveler to make each experience their own, to avoid mundane routines (like normal life), and to mix things up. But, yeah, I suppose the extraordinary can always risk becoming ordinary with too much exposure. Look at the Rolling Stones.

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