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Using your definition, I'm a wanderer. I've had a couple of structured vacations (a two-week trip in 1984 on an American Express bus through the Alps comes to mind); I spent about 18 months working every other week in LA, so I spent nearly every weekend there driving around Southern California. But other than the two years of Navy service in Japan I've not cocooned anywhere other than here.

I share Ebert's dismay, though. Travel really is broadening if the traveller just opens his damned eyes widely enough.


Ebert's dismayed by a statistic he found---"only about ten percent of Americans have traveled outside their country."

A joke I heard while living in London: Two people are having coffee. One, reading from the newspaper, says to his friend, "It says here that only six percent of Americans have a passport." His friend says, "Oh, thank God."

Kevin Wolf

My parents take an international trip every year (in their retirement) and do a sort of combo of sight-seeing and staying put. That is, they go see things during the day and stick close to wherever the hotel is at night -- not in the hotel, but around. They usually end up in a local pub and go there repeatedly and speak with the locals and soak up the atmosphere. Sounds like a good way to go about things, if you're in the neighborhood for only a week or two.

Which reminds me: I need to renew my passport.


Ooh, I got a mention! I'm a combination of a stayer-put-er and an explorer. I did the staying-put thing in Thailand for two 2-month stretches and it was the most fun I've ever had traveling. But that sort of staying-putting can get lonely if one doesn't find a companion, preferably a lover.

I'm moving around, I'm doing it on the cheap and I am missing a lot of the "sight-seeing" business, mostly because I find it tedious (unless I stumble on it by accident, which is ten-fold the delight, trust me - it's as if you've discovered for the very first time in history something that is on the first page of the guide book you did not buy), but also because I have no plan beyond the next few days at any given time.

I am in Nice now. It's beautiful. I don't know where I will be in four days. Let's hope something happens to give me a clue as to my next destination.


I have to say, what really hurts me is not knowing the local languages. I'm missing a huge chunk of the experience I would have had if I'd known the languages. It's bothering me. But there are only so many languages one has the time to learn (and I'm already forgetting more than most people ever learn), and there are hundreds of countries.

Oh well.

Chris The Cop

June-Sept., 1980. Europe by Backpack. 9 countries-10 weeks. Eurorail, Brit Rail, Hostels, B&Bs. Not exactly exploring and certainly not staying put, but it was the time of my life.

And Apostate is right - it's much better with a lover.


For me it's a combination of time, money, and, to a degree, language barriers. When you're just roaming about, the amount of language you can cram into your head before the trip (which in my case is a pretty good amount, in fact) is sufficient. Staying put, you need more, or some local help.

I like doing both, both abroad and domestically. Roaming around, I get my desire for the new stroked, and when I stay put I enjoy the comfortable dailiness of it mixed with the occasional oddities.

But then, that's how I tend to operate when I'm at home too. There is the daily stuff, and then there's noticing the little oddities - like buying a strange product in the grocery store, or driving down a road you've always just driven past, and so on.


I think the problem, with regards to the ten percent thing, is that America is such a big place to explore in its own right, and has just about anything you can find anyplace else, that we tend to stay at home.

Can you think of one other country that can offer skiing on World Cup mountains less than a two hour drive from surfing? I sure can't.


I think one of the keys is to be somewhere long enough to have to do some every day things like go to a grocery store. When you're on vacation you live out of a suitcase and only see things the way you do underwater - in short dives from you comfort zone for a quick look and then back to the surface. When you are in a place long enough to do the things a person living there does as a mater of day to day life you finally can say you have traveled somewhere rather than just taken a vacation there.

My greatest beef with American society is the amount of time we think we need to spend at work. Seemly no where else in the developed world do people have so little vacation time. I can count on one hand the number of close friends who have ever spent two whole weeks in a row away from their adult jobs. It's sad. That's just no way to live a life.

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