...and all I got were these lousy emotional scars.
Well, Victoria, I am back. I have survived my two-week vacation to my hometown in Ohio and my journey into the heartland of America surrounded by 55 irritated people in a cramped tin can (otherwise known as a Greyhound bus).
I wrote about the first part of my experience in a column that ran last Wednesday (I made it a two-parter considering my experience just could not be fit into 800 words or less). The second part will be running next Wednesday.
But I also wanted to write a quick blog on the changing face of travel in America. Being a Yankee living in the South, I have done more traveling over the past 2.5 years than most people. And since I used to travel all the time with my adventurous mother when I was a child and a teenager, I have watched the industry change over the years.
With that being said, I can't help but ask...what happened to the time when traveling was fun?
I mean, I'm not even that old but I remember pre-Sept. 11 when riding an airplane was almost a glamorous affair (and not one that cost as much as my rent). Now riding a plane means feeling like a criminal because you forgot you left your mascara in your purse. Which naturally means you are a terrorist (albeit one with voluminous lashes) and made to stand in the "special line" where some angry woman from TSA will pat you down and look through all your belongings, searching for your lip gloss that apparently contains a bomb. And even after it is found out that you are not carrying any WMD in your carry-on, you still feel guilty.
I remember taking road trips with my family or college friends back before filling up the tank cost more than my daily income. We would drive to places in Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida and stop to see attractions like the World's Largest Lint Ball on the way. But now, I avoid going to the store, let alone across the country, considering I have to take out a loan every time I have to cross the Victoria County line.
Now, I realize that a big reason why travel has changed so much is due to safety and security reasons. And I'd certainly rather put up with TSA frisking me than be blown up because they weren't frisking people.
Still, I can't help but long for the days when travel was about the experience, not the destination. It just seems like now the only point in traveling is getting to where you're going without dying...or going bankrupt.
Plus, I think the American public has also lost its sense of decency when traveling. Yes, I get it that you are tired and irritated, your flight has been delayed repeatedly and you sat next to a screaming child for four hours, but that's no reason to be out and out rude to a perfect stranger, like say the young woman traveling alone who just asked if that seat was taken.
Maybe it will get better. I truly hope it does because I'm a traveler at heart and want to see the entire world.
But until then, sadly it seems the open road and the friendly skies are no more. Sigh
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