Monday, August 14, 2017

Why America is not the ideal vacation destination

I've always held the belief that the US is a great place to study and work but isn't quite the vacation destination in spite of some spectacular natural and man-made beauties. As much as I enjoyed my six-week trip along the east coast from Miami to Maine and around the great lakes this June and July, that belief has been strengthened. When you go to Europe, Australia or anywhere in Asia for a vacation, what draws you in are the cultures, languages, hospitality and the ease of commute and travel. For a tourist, multiple travel options mean flexibility in schedules, the ability to stay as long as you want to take in the beauty of a place and leave whenever you wish to. In America, what you get is a sense of urgency. Your dependence is completely on your hosts (unless you manage to drive yourself) and their ability and patience to navigate the endless traffic on the interstate highways. You could be marvelling at the beautiful countryside wanting to stop for pictures but the next exit might be miles away and you'd be put off by the familiar MacDonalds sign. You do have an option to fly low cost airlines but they're insular to any kind of warmth or companionship - things that make vacations more memorable. Unlike Mumbai locals, subway trains don't have a system where they display the next station so you keep guessing. My favourite journey was on an Amtrak train from New York to Boston, where I was the only person in the compartment who had the luxury of time to look out of the window at the beautiful countryside while my co-passengers furiously keyed laptops and phones. I almost felt guilty that I was having fun.

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