Over the last 50 or 100 years, travel has gotten a lot easier, but taking a vacation has become more difficult.
If you are driving, you rarely get lost; a GPS guides your way. Your smartphone has apps so you can research local restaurants. And flying, while way up in the hassle area in the last 10 years, is mostly safer and relatively less expensive.
Remember Travelers cheques? There’s almost no need to bother with these anymore – buying, cashing, figuring out the best exchange rate. Now you can just use your credit card.
But truly going on vacation – taking yourself out of your regular life – has become near impossible. Some of the reasons are the very things that have made travel so much less complicated.
The smartphone. Sure, you can check on museum hours and special exhibits, but your boss might expect you to respond to email. You can’t even get away from email demands on planes now, since so many are equipped with WiFi. When my husband and I were flying home from Phoenix recently, he had to get WiFi; on a cross-country trip last year, he didn’t and a client who couldn’t reach him for 2 hours went ballistic.
The GPS. This is great for telling you where you need to go, but it doesn’t leave anything open for exploration. Some of our best times on vacation have been serendipitous discoveries when we were actually looking for something else; if we now exactly how to get there, and how long it will take, we might not have extra time to see that small church or artisanal cheese maker.
Even kids are not immune to modern day pressures. Most families schedule their vacation around school holidays, but sports teams, marching bands and play rehearsals also intrude on family time.
This year, I want to reclaim the family vacation. I’m just not sure how.