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Rethinking Vacationing

Vacations: A Big Budget Item – Does It Need To Be?


I’m flying out this weekend, just about a 2 hour flight up to SoCal to vacation with my partner in the LA area. We’ll probably stay in a couple of hotels and spend a total of 7 days there.

Though I’m excited to see her I don’t like flying much. My upcoming trip made me think of how I don’t enjoy traditional vacationing.

My aversion to flying has nothing to do with the fear of guaranteed death should the parts on the plane, engineered and assembled by undoubtedly the lowest bidder, fail. It’s more the chore of getting to the airport, cramming into lines, waiting for TSA checks followed by polluting the air with spent jet fuel to get from one place to the next.

Screening everyone at the airport in order to catch one potential ‘terrorists’ is like giving everyone an antibiotic hoping to prevent a single deadly infection. Our injudicious dispensing of antibiotics might herald what’s to come with our TSA fuckery. I hear there is a way around that, by chartering your own plane. But besides being cost-prohibitive there is also a higher chance of crashes in those.

A giant hunk of metal flying through the air so consistently with such few major mishaps is a true testament to sound engineering. I am always amazed by it. But I do think it’s a luxury that has been marked down so low that too many are now using it without fully comprehending the consequences.

I don’t place much blame on the consumer. The global consequence of our actions are kept from us, guarded like a terrible family secret. Our ignorance is not so much our own fault as is the systems which deliver a ‘lifestyle’ to us. We were taught in school to learn facts and memorize equations. The understanding we were taught was the interpretation of whoever was teaching us. I didn’t come across a ‘free thinking’ course where the professor would ask for a random fact from the student audience and show how she would step-by-step go about researching the supposed fact. Here is one: “Traveling stimulates the economy”.

Can you punish or hold accountable someone who is completely devoid of insight? I don’t believe you can. The child that tortured a small animal as a kid, to grow up later as an adult and disgusted by his childish actions is no more punishable as is the adult who somehow never understood the consequence of her actions.

Of course we shouldn’t be so overly concerned with every single decision to the point that life becomes a series of hmm’s & haa’s. Nevertheless, some dark-skinned person is dying in some oil-rich soil in order for me to fly 800 miles, round-trip, for less than the cost of a monthly cable service.

As for that in-flight meal thrown in on those longer flights for free… that chicken lived a life of anything but free, much less tolerable. Humans suffering far less stress than that crumble and commit suicide under those pressures.

Fine, I know, that’s depressing. It shouldn’t be, it should be just an awareness. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable knowing about this shit, and maybe you cannot take immediate action to change it. But being aware… that alone is such a critical piece. I no longer blindly believe everything that’s being said and practiced out there. Not trying to be a dissident but I’m realizing that our systems of taxation, insurance, pensions and retirement are hurting the average high-income earner.

I’ve asked this before but why is it that a doctor making 10x the salary of another person retires at the same average age as the supposed pauper?

Back to vacationing or flying. I still fly even though I am aware of all the things I listed. No I’m not evil for doing so. I’m aware but I ain’t perfect.

This awareness has, however, lessened the joy of flying. Maybe that’s good. Maybe if fewer people get airborne every year we’ll make a difference. It’s certainly not the joy of flying that gets people crammed into planes.

So I have decided to bridge the distance between me and my woman to avoid the frequent flights. Even one less flight will make a difference. I can choose the lesser of 2 evils, why not.

Vacationing US-style is a stupid ass way to vacation, in my humble yet in your face opinion. Lemme ‘splain.

Find a destination by looking at a bunch of pictures and advertisements. Find the cheapest flights to get you to your destination. Pick it as close to the last day of work and just as close to the start of the first day back as possible.

The few days before the vacation is taken a couple will spend more time booking things, researching reviews and finding the best deals rather than spending quality time together. Little do they know that the destinations and accommodations that made it online represent only a fraction, the shitty touristy fraction, of what’s out there.

Booking the hotel.

Do the search online, find an affordable hotel that has the least number of bed bugs mentioned in the reviews. Then plan out a few sights to take in, a few restaurants to check out and start writing an itinerary which must be adhered to otherwise the whole trip will be a waste.

Then comes the complaining in the airport terminal, mixed in with some delays. Standing there annoyed that you have to wait in order to get onto the plane. Then you land and have to figure out transportation to the hotel. Get to the hotel and make sure to complain about something, the muggy smell, the dirty stain on the bathroom wall, the loud adjacent guests or the fact that you didn’t get the room you wanted.

It’s not that we are unappreciative citizens who want to be catered to hand over fist. Rather, the idea of travel, the romantic images we have been fed and what we were promised fall so incredibly short of the actual experience that it’s only natural to complain and be disappointed.

Packing in a year’s worth of sightseeing and experiences in 2 weeks is the norm now. Faster, better, and more. I see so many annoyed tourist families here in Portland come summer time – it’s sad and it has become the norm.

I’ve been living in Portland for 1.5 years. I haven’t gone to the mountain, I haven’t been to the coast, I have seen only 1 waterfall, I haven’t been to Bend and I haven’t been to Hood River.

It’s not that I don’t want to do these things but I am having a blast exploring Portland-local. Hanging out at the local coffee shop meeting new people has been such a pleasant experience. There are streets within a 3 block radius that I haven’t even walked on. The library has a ton of books I haven’t read and there are people in the local climbing gym whom I haven’t climbed with.

What’s the fascination with going to Fiji? Why force-tour an entire French city in one weekend rather than just people-watch at a coffee shop, walk the streets at noon, walk the same streets at sunset and read a book street-side?

Here is my theory… I think it’s having to face our mortality. The fact that we are on this earth for a very short period of time and that by adding experiences, by spreading ourselves over the globe, by accumulating tangible objects, procreating and by having a large family we are fighting our mortality so as to not be just a small water stain on the side of a massive skyscraper.

For the record nobody I know agrees with me on my vacationing-theory which is probably why I have this blog because where the hell else can I express myself? On a side note, I would love to see everyone have a blog. How great it would be to read the thoughts of so many people around the world – amazing.

Back to my theory. So the way I picture an amazing vacation is to pick a 3 square mile area and go and really live there. Get a small short-term apartment, cook your own meals by buying local ingredients. Hang out in the city center and visit local libraries to see the kind of people who hang out there. Eat at local restaurants and watch local shows. I think spending just 1-2 weeks is not enough nor is it much of a vacation. Spending a good month in a place to me would be incredible and even better is a year.

With a lot of downtime it actually will be a real vacation, a time to recuperate from the fast-pace lives we’re used to.

2 replies on “Rethinking Vacationing”

I want a re-cap of your trip to LA. Did you Air BNB it? I understand your position when it comes to vacationing, but I don’t think that’s the only way of looking at travel. What about the brompton bike you ride everywhere? some bloke in England is suffering because of you? What about the poor Taiwanese guy who made the tire tubes on your bike? Your theory is a slippery slope


Hey Blanco,

The trip was 7 days of stressful driving, packing, unpacking from hotel to hotel while trying to take in as much as possible. There were 4 hotels, maybe 5, don’t remember now. A ton of restaurants, a lot of wasted food. A lot of driving around and lots, LOTS of traffic to deal with.

It wasn’t my choice to travel in that fashion and yea if I had my choice I’d be rolling around in the Brompton. Dunno if someone had to suffer in order for me to have that mode of transportation but I’m sure you’re right, there is always some sort of suffering. The best I can do right now with my limited knowledge is choose the lesser of 2 evils.

I’m definitely not trying to make myself seem like someone who is high and mighty. Even if I don’t have a car now I’ve owned many and have wasted plenty of gas. I’ve been on a ton of airline trips, probably more than many Americans will ever get to. The point of the post perhaps got lost a bit in my rambling but I stand firm that those 7 days of driving around trying to take so much in was not worthwhile.

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