Thursday, November 4, 2010

Where we travel to

Have you ever noticed where we travel to? If you were to take a poll of people in your area, where do you think they typically go? Where would they like to go, or dream of going?

Where you want to go depends a lot on where you are.

Consider the places that your everyday routine takes you. Then think about whether there are tourist destinations nearby that you almost never go to. There are probably some. We live an hour from San Francisco and we almost never go there as tourists. We go when we're taking guests from out of town, and that's it, with very few exceptions. I used to live right by the beach (10 minute walk) and go maybe three or four times a year.

Where would you go if you had a day or two, maybe a weekend to travel? The radius will be bigger, and perhaps you can identify some weekend spots that are relatively close by.

Where would you go if you took a longer trip?

I remember meeting my husband, who is from Australia, and telling him how I had taken trips to Europe and would love to show him France one day. The first time I told him that he gaped at me. He'd never considered going to Europe. From California, Europe is exotic and faraway; from the East coast it's exotic but just a bit of a hop. From Australia, Europe is on the opposite side of everything.

You'll enjoy this one: he asked me, "Have you ever been overseas to Mexico?"

I said, "I've been to Mexico, but it didn't involve going over any seas." Of course, that was when I realized that if you live in Australia, everywhere that's not Australia is "overseas"!

People from Australia won't go to Hawaii on vacation; they'll go to Bali. It's closer, and I'd have to say it's roughly the equivalent expense in money and time as going from the continental US to Hawaii. People inside Europe travel between countries quite a bit. It's very common for people from France to visit Italy in August, for example.

What I'm trying to get at here is that for any given region, there will be travel zones (day travel, overnight travel, longer travel) and travel habits. The places we think of going have a lot to do with the place we are right now.

So what does travel mean in your world? How does faster-than-light spaceship drive change that equation? If you live in the medieval-tech world of Fandazia, what does it mean to leave your town? Where would you imagine going? The concept of travel, both of how much effort and money it takes, and of where one might go, depends a lot on the culture of the local area.

It's something to think about.