Excuse me for getting a bit out-of-bounds on this post here, but I’m starting to wonder when the chips will fall. At an extremely uncomfortable rate, we’ve watched our world change in many ways. The tourism industry is taking hits left and right and those chips are stacking against us. Hostage crises, ISIS, extremists, plowing cars and a litany of other panic-inducing episodes bring fear into a traveler’s life. On the home front, United Airlines, reduction of loyalty perks, smuggling of just about everything, and even US Air Marshals leaving loaded guns in bathrooms leaves travelers teething and wondering what’s next?
In my world, almost everything outside the family unit is secondary to travel. When not typing away at my keyboard in my 9-5 (blogging isn’t it by the way), I’m trying to stack points, look for more credit card opportunities and, of course, planning for the next several holidays. Lately it seems to be a navigation of bad press and unfortunate incidents for the travel industry when I’m usually more focused on the positive side of travel. From less than stellar service to long standing policies that are now considered irrelevant and being exposed, we find ourselves at a crossroads of sorts.
Even without indulging heavily in the media, it’s hard to escape the waterfall of bad press that continues to chip away at this beautiful hobby of ours. I’ve found in just the past few months a pervasive fear from others regarding travel. While I can happily divulge every single second of my trip to any ear that is open, I’ve become quite aware that many people just are not willing to take the risk of traveling, at least beyond the confines of this country. There are a million reasons to travel, but it only takes one to change your mindset completely. Just how many places will be unseen due to fear? And probably the better question is when would you know when it is safe again? Will there ever be a time when the “risk” doesn’t exist? I can’t imagine that Utopian dream ever coming to fruition.
Instead, it’s probably more likely that people will have to decide for themselves when that time is right. And here’s a clue. That time is right now. That time is right next week. That time is right next year. Not long ago I posted on the fact that our own obsession with the news could be our biggest enemy when it comes to travel. We actually have much less incidents of terrorism with traveling today than years ago. I still believe in that assumption that fear persists and I also hope that the reverse could easily be done. With all of the merits of travel, readers tend to look for the bad before they opt for the good. Millions of people travel every single day and relate their stories through blogs, magazines, books and casual conversation, but that story about a big rabbit dying on a United flight gets the most interest.
Who’s To Blame?
The bigger question is will travelers be looking for misfortune intentionally? For years, many looked at fellow fliers with inquisitive looks, wondering if there was more than met the eye. Now will the attention equally be directed at the people who are there to make our journey bearable? My early guess will be yes. At the time of this writing I even questioned whether or not this piece held any relevance, but sure enough, another domino falls. The news that a Delta traveler was kicked off a plane after using the restroom adds more fuel to the fire. This isn’t the first time these things happen mind you. This just happens to be occurring immediately after the United incident. Like others, I tweeted the incident out because it was so coincidental. I unfortunately fanned the flames of passenger dread. I didn’t judge, make a ruling or even quote the story. But…I spread it and somewhere out there my tweet fell in the hands of a person who will see this as a reason to avoid traveling. Don’t believe me? You should. We are an easily captivated audience and quite susceptible to “what-ifs”scenarios.
It’s an unfortunate trait that most of us have embedded in our lives and though we all want to be the positive people that we claim to be, we’re all a bit addicted to the negative. So why are we hardwired to be more pessimist than optimist when it comes to travel. Even us bloggers who partake in this travel hobby much more than the average person would claim that we look beyond the fear and conquer the world. But even that assumption wouldn’t be entirely true. We send our own messages of disgust and agitation but probably have very little knowledge of the unrest we cause due to the lifestyle we lead. We’ve gone everywhere, we stay everywhere and then we tell you if it’s worth it or not. When people used to turn to Fodors or AAA or the few other “recognized” publications out there that resembled more of a Farmer’s Almanac, they now to turn to people like us. And what we write or tweet, somehow matters. But unlike the national media markets, we find ourselves a bit more shielded from critiques and bad information. Want to leave a nasty comment on a post, that’s your preference. It probably won’t deter most from doing it again though.
There seems to be a raging battle occurring in the travel blogging field. What was once a commodity now is flooded with legions of writers from all walks of life, myself included. Every one of us all chasing after the same fifteen cents in an effort to turn it into a dollar. Excuse me for the Tupac reference but you’ll find truth within. A quick glance of an unofficial Google results for “Man dragged off United Flight” receives a measly 3,000,000 hits. Let that number sink in a bit. That’s how many stories have been “allegedly” written or cited as a result of the fiasco. I’m sure I’m guilty for reading and regurgitating a few of them. Do the same search for it being a fake story and get millions more. Because we all know that everything considered real is also considered fake, new normal I guess. This was one unique story. Twenty years ago this gets a mention on the national news…maybe. Today it gets 3,000,000 hits. In a world where everyone is a critic, I have to come to the realization that all people are responsible for the induced fear of what would be, should be, could be travelers. And we seem to relish the spotlight of spreading bad news.
Am I Wasting My Time?
So is my purpose to provide answers to my own commentary? Hardly, that train can’t be stopped in our society today. Am I looking to tick off everyone who relays information that’s readily available elsewhere. Of course not but that’s probably possible. What I am saying is that the blame is ours to share in a sense. These types of events are going to occur again, probably sooner rather than later. We’ve transitioned into a society where we all hold the keys. I can be just as effective as spreading the word as people who have been in the industry for 20 or more years. That’s unfortunate for them but it is what it is. It’s just as easy to spread the wonders of travel in a positive light or to even address the niceties that you experience on your journeys. It’s not near as sexy or maybe even interesting, but if you manage to get a few more people out there to see the world you see, then mission accomplished.
If you’ve manged to make it this far through my rant, congratulations as you may be in the minority. If you feel the need to make a positive comment, I encourage you to do so below. If you feel to make a negative comment, I must acknowledge that this could be fake news altogether and these last few minutes you may never get back. My apologies.
“Live Within Your Means, Travel Beyond Them”