Friday, November 02, 2007

What do you want and need?

I'm at a conference of travel writers and magazine editors. The attendees represent some of the best in the field, including editors from National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Continental Airlines magazine, various AAA magazines, Art & Antiques, and AARP, The Magazine.

The buzz among the editors is all about Travel as a Transformative Experience. One example was an article about a couple who travels to Costa Rica to volunteer with a children's program. Along the way readers learn that one of the motivating factors was an attempt to resolve a husband-wife conflict: He wants children, she doesn't.

I haven't read the story, but I can see that this is a heart-rending situation that, deftly handled, would make can't-put-it-down reading...the motherlode for any editor, magazine, newspaper or otherwise.

I'd be the first to agree that travel can, and maybe should, change your outlook, your world view ... and yes, maybe in ways large and small, your life. (Hey, my last Christmas vacation was a trip to Cameroon ... and I promise you that's nobody's idea of a restful layby.) I've shaped a decades-long career to support my personal passion for places less visited and experiences far beyond the everyday.

And yet, I can't help wondering: What about those of us who are plumb worn out. So worn out we can't really even think about the kind of trip that would help us feel soothed and sated and rested -- much less plan one.

I'm not talking about an overpriced hour in the spa. (Nice way to spend a bit of time, but really, is it worth $220?)

I'm talking about something deeper and sweeter. Something that lasts beyond Monday morning ... whatever Monday morning lands us back in our day-to-day lives of meetings and deadlines and dinners and commitments and bill-paying and arguing with the tax assessor.

I know this conversation is rooted in my own dilemma about remaining vacation days and how to spend them. The go-go part of my brain knows I should use the time for research for a book that may never get published; the worn-out part just wants to burrow into some mountain lodge or rental house in the country in front of a fire.

But here's the bigger question: What do you want to read about? Do you want the deep story about the transformative experience, or the simpler tale about the beautiful place or the best beach?

Or do you really want both? I think I do.

Let me know; Click to Comment below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to be trite, but it's probably best to treat needs first and then wants. Nothing wrong with a mountain lodge sojourn filled with novels and the odd stroll around the environs.

I don't think the transformative experience and beautiful -insert natural or other wonder- have to be mutually exclusive. But let's face it, writing about the most beautiful this or that is really just list-making.

I want to read about travels where one engages the surroundings. I don't care much for some luxury piece because I think it's phoney and beyond the reach of most of us.

Travel is still the best way to learn about the world. Not every journey is transformative but no one's going to learn anything if the world is sold to us as a packaged tour of the best beaches.

All best,
Daniel