Chicago has two seasons of the year: winter & construction. So it is that snow drifts are now being replaced out there with pile drivers. A good reason to start thinking about plans for exotic July & August trips to those faraway lands you’ve vowed to visit before you leave this mortal coil.
There are two ways of olanning your travel destinations. One is the chirpy travel-broucher descriptions; the other is Elizabeth Becker’s new expose ‘Overbooked.’ If you prefer the lexicon of love and romance, check out the brochures. If you want to learn how the travel industry is exploiting you and your planet, check out Liz.
To put world travel into perspective, today it has become an economic powerhouse that easily rivals that of oil, energy, finance and agriculture. If you’re under 65, that won’t surprise you because you’ve always lived in a world which was only a few dollars and hours away from you. The rest of us, well we rarely dreamed of summer trips further than the Dells, Yellowstone or maybe Mexico.
When we did venture overseas, before 1950 60% of us trekked to predictable Western Europe where most of our heritage could be found. Soon we learned the rest of the world was reachable as well. From 25 million foreign trips in 1960 we leaped to 1 billion by 2012. East Europe, Africa, China and Southeast Asia have seen more American tourists in these years than some of their cities have populations.
Becker notes that ever since 9/11 the United States has discouraged foreign travelers here with a growing number of rules and restrictions. Most of today’s travel is from not to us! Becker saves her toughest criticisms for the cruise ship industry. You know those lovely square tubs from Royal Caribbean and Carnival that keep blowing up on the high seas. It’s a $40 billion dollar business which wines, dines, hustles and exploits its pampered clients and the port cities they invade.
Here’s the point.
Summer is global travel time. You now have a lot of choices, but only a few will be worth cheering once you get back. Do your homework early and avoid the teary tales later. Either that or stick with the Dells, Yellowstone and maybe Mexico. Distance really doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder….
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