Thursday, August 11, 2005

Modes of Transportation (1)

How to get to and from your destination factors in heavily to trip planning. Should I drive? Hitch-hike? Walk? Fly? How we get there says a lot about how we view traveling. Is getting there something that is endured, or enjoyed?

Take for instance someone who generally flys on a trip. Often, the reason they fly can be boiled down to two reasons:
1) Time. If you are going to have a three day weekend to spend in Austin, and you live in Philadelphia, there's really no other way to do it other than flying.
2) Distance. Anything over 200 miles away means one will be spending several hours traveling on land. Some people can't bear being in a car or train for more than a couple hours, so flying is a way to avoid that issue.

Flying is definitely useful, but there are definite drawbacks. Besides the environmental implications of modern commercial aviation (pollution created by burning kerosene (jet fuel) and the large amounts of land needed for airports), the biggest drawback in my eyes is the lack of closure. With flying, you start from a hermetically sealed environment known as an airport. You then board an aircraft through a windowless tunnel. On the plane, if you are lucky to get a view, you'll see mostly clouds. Then the plane lands, you leave it through yet another tunnel into yet another airport, most likely resembling the one you started from. It doesn't matter if your flight traveled tens, hundreds, or thousands of miles--you saw nothing of the journey other than the seat in front of you and the SkyMall catalog (buy! buy! buy!) You're going further than most people traveled in their entire lifetimes pre-20th century in the span of hours, and what do you have to show for it? A bag of peanuts.

I'd rather stay on the ground and see where I'm going, even if that means I'll be traveling for days. I want to be able to experience each unique region I pass through. And that includes all the so-called boring areas that some folks will go out of their way to avoid.

It all comes down to one's personal philosophy of travel. I know many people just want to get the "in transit" part over with as quick as possible. I want it to be an integral part of my trip, something to look forward to. Some will fly because there's no time for any other mode of transport. I will make the time. Besides, how can you have an "epic" journey if you fly from place to place?

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