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Location: TUCSON, Arizona, United States

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

What's a vacation?

 Can you "vacation" when you're already retired? The word was coined to mean temporarily leaving your job behind, to clear your mind and revive your spirits. We--Jane and me--are stretching the limits of the word, along with many 1000s of Americans and others: people with enough money to travel, as well as the time throughout the year. It's arguably the case that "vacation" travelers--tourists--have become a primary source of income for many states and countries.

We were discussing this just last night with the couple sharing a rented house with us here on the South Carolina coast. They've recently returned from traveling in South Africa--both the country and the region--and admit to having questions about the morality of living amongst native populations who individually and collectively have low incomes and even lower employment, such that their livelihoods depend upon the money travelers like us spend locally. 

These photos are from our cycling trip on the east coast of Italy last year, where we were housed in a bike hotel owned by friends and guided by young people hired to ride with people like us. Tourism is already largest portion of the budgets of many countries like Italy.

So travel and tourism may not be a moral question at all. Or if it is, it might be argued that it's the moral duty of the citizens of countries with thriving production- and export-economies to go to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, Africa and South America, and so on to spread the wealth. In fact there's a "travel industry" that most prominently features the production and flight of aircraft. This means that, while we're spreading the wealth, we're also distributing carbon and other forms of pollution.

But then, being human is clearly synonymous with pollution: we can only live by inflicting very high levels of predation and consumption on the land around us. And there are already too many of us. Think about that when you're traveling...


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