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June 28, 2005

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Sal

What you mean by..."much of this has to do with our geographical isolation"? First thing came to my mind, is that geographical isolation is an excuse that we like to believe to justify our ignorance of other countries, other people, other cultures: the "otherness"...

Brent

Dude! You've been to 38 countries! That's awesome. I've been to like four. And that's including the U.S. and Mexico. You're absolutely right that there's no reason Americans shouldn't travel more. I look back now and think about all the trips I took to party in South Beach, attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans or hang out at the beach in Cabo. It's one of the few regrets in my life that I didn't use that time (and those dollars) more wisely.

landismom

A word to the wise--travel with the Peanut now, before she gets old enough to walk. There is nothing more frustrating than taking a flight with a toddler.

That being said, ITA. I've only been to about five countries outside the U.S., but I really looking forward to seeing some more of the world when we've got out of the toddler stage. For this year, I'm content to take the beach vacation.

Dawnan

You are so right. I am going to make my husband read your blog. A trip to Beaches Resorts so that our 2 1/2 year old can have breakfast with Elmo is so not the point of travelling. While I am not even close to being as well-travelled as you, I have still been fortunate to see enough to know that I HAVEN'T seen enough. At this point, I think she would have a much more culturally interesting experience in the Ironbound section of Newark. God, I miss the paella there!! Anywhoo, thanks for writing that!

JJ Daddy in Savannah

Geographic isolation may contribute to American's lack of experience with and understanding of other cultures, but I've heard a rumour that the French and Germans have not gotten along on occasion, and they're right next door to each other.
So, I think there's plenty of the Good Ol' USA's historic xenophobia and self-satisfaction at work there, too.

I've always though growing up in a ethnically/economically mixed neighborhood (like you mention) and going to public school in NYC helped me avoid that. Once you realize that your Hmong, Pakistani and Dominican neighbors are more like you than different, what's to fear?

Another way that cultures are the same all over the world is that every country has its own equivalent to the burrito. Really. All part of God's master plan? You decide.....

Karina

Metro...you are so right. I don't know if you have ever been to Disneyworld but it costs a fortune! They get you for everything. And the worst part? It's virtually impossible to avoid all the high costs of going there, no matter how much you try and scrimp. We live in North Carolina. For the same price it cost our family to go to Disneyworld, we could have gone anywhere in Europe for a week. We're planning an end-of-the-summer trip for the girls now. Thanks for giving us some ideas. Otherwise, we probably would have ended up at the beach. Sigh.

Milo

I think you're right that the reason most Americans don't travel abroad is because we're so geographically isolaed. But really? I think the bigger reason is that our superiority complex takes a lot of the enjoyment out of going overseas. I mean, how many times have you been abroad, run into a bunch of American tourists and heard one of them say, "America is so much better". That's no really the point of travelling, is it? Great post.

Nancy

I so agree with everything that you said in this post. Traveling is a priority for most Europeans, Australians, and New Zealanders. When I travel I meet so many people from these countries. They are not necessarily richer than me, they just make it a priority to save money to travel. To make travel more affordable for my family, I have recently signed up for a credit card that allows me to earn frequent flier miles. I really want to give my daughter opportunities that I never had. I want to show her the world. Indeed, I'm trying to figure out a way for all of us to live overseas when she's a bit older.

Nancy

I so agree with everything that you said in this post. Traveling is a priority for most Europeans, Australians, and New Zealanders. When I travel I meet so many people from these countries. They are not necessarily richer than me, they just make it a priority to save money to travel. To make travel more affordable for my family, I have recently signed up for a credit card that allows me to earn frequent flier miles. I really want to give my daughter opportunities that I never had. I want to show her the world. Indeed, I'm trying to figure out a way for all of us to live overseas when she's a bit older.

Grace

That's pretty awesome seeing where you've been. Isn't it amazing when you SEE it? As for jury duty? Ugh....

Jason

Part of the reason that Americans don't have the travel bug that the Europeans, et al, do is simple: most companies in the U.S. don't give us the time to do so. The vast majority of American employers currently give 10 to 15 PTO days per year - and those include sick time! My aunt and uncle live in Berlin and get 6 weeks of vacation per year, thus they're free to travel whenever and wherever they please. I'd blame our misguided Calvinist work ethic above all else.

Meredith

YES. YES. Yes. Travel is the best way to breed tolerance, no doubt. There's no better to really understand what it means to you personally to be American or Canadian or French and so on. There is nothing that has taught me more than being totally out of my element, being the only white girl, being unable to read the menu and among people who fall asleep on the bus, get thirsty and read the newspaper like anyone, anywhere might.

We are headed to Okinawa for three years in a couple of months. It seems like a huge gift for our little one.

geoff

To visualize where I've been is pretty awesome. I've explored all 5 continents, though each could use a touch up. My wife and I went travel crazy in Australia and the Pacific Rim before our girls were born so that we wouldn't miss it as much. With our 12 week old twins, we're happy if we can get out of the city, or hell, even the house.

We've already got baby-step trips lined up: from Boston to Miami, then Boston to California (Go Bears!), then hopefully to visit the family in Germany next summer. We haven't even taken a long car trip, but i've hear plane flights with babies are, um, a blast...

what's the magic age to start flying with kids?

Queen of Ass

I've been to one whole country. The one I was born in. I've been here, and never have left. I wish I'd left at some point, but nope! Never. Am now officially very jealous of you, MD.

Metro, you're inspiring. At 24 I'm taking my first (what I'd call a) real travelling holiday to Vietnam next week. Can't wait - every experience from being freaked out by non-existent road rules to saddened at the war museums to marvelling at the food (oh, the food) will be treasured for years to come, I know it.

Living in Australia is pretty freakin' isolated in terms of international travel - your travel hours to various other countries can be measured in single digits! Be grateful! ;)

Alexandra

Metrodad,

You are absolutely right. Although I've only been to about 4 countries I've had the opportunity of meeting people from most parts of the world. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, you name it. They all had the same concerns: putting food on the table & hoping for a better future for their kids.
Despite my lack of international exposure, I have moved about 15 times in my 30 years of life and one thing I've learned quite early on is to let go of the place you were before when you go to a new one. Don't judge a place according to the life you had in the place you were before - that will only ensure you don't enjoy the place and don't get to appreciate it in its own right.
That's certainly my attitude when I move to Barcelona in 6 months for about 18 months. My goal is to come back speaking Spanish & Catalan and with a good understanding of the local culture. I'll also take the opportunity to travel around Europe more. Can't wait!!

Pepa

I was addicted to your blog! Not anymore!! (Just kidding!!).
We want American tourists in Spain!!
Please, do come to Spain next time in Europe and do mention my country next time!!!!!
;)

4wrdthnkndad

Metro..I've travelled throughout the U.S, Europe and parts of Asia. But I've been on the fence about when to travel with my 6 and 3 year old sons. We've travelled with them by plane and van. The van was definitely more appealing. Until kids can run around a plane and play tag, play soccer,or put on costumes and use their imagination; air travel is out for us. I don't know if the wait time in airports, negotiating the streets of new cities, and food on the road is worth it. I'm leaning towards waiting till they are closer to 10. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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