Home World I rarely go on adventures. Do travel posters count?

I rarely go on adventures. Do travel posters count?


As summer nears, my wanderlust blooms, with longings of taking foreign trips, climbing hillside towns, sampling exotic foods and savoring culture shock.

Friends and family are accustomed to me asking: Where are you going? What will you do? Where will you stay? This year has already elicited a good mix of itineraries. One couple is touring Portugal’s vineyards. My brother-in-law will be hiking in Croatia. Our upstairs neighbors are taking their two sons to Japan. Even our apartment building’s super is planning a do-over safari in Tanzania.

I can trace the precise origin of my voyager fantasies. When I was a kid in the 1960s, my parents took me to Tuesday night travelogues at our local museum, featuring 16 mm films and vibrant slide shows of tulip fields in the Netherlands, bullfights in Mexico and bikini-filled beaches in Brazil. I was smitten with all destinations and never missed a National Geographic special.

My parents took their share of overseas excursions, bringing back liquor miniatures and trinkets from Israel and Greece to fill my shelves. The kid across the street brought over a small jar of the Caribbean Sea he scooped up on a trip to St. John in the Virgin Islands — I sprinkled some on my cheeks like holy water, though I now suspect it came from his sink.

But my own childhood jaunts were limited: Lake Erie, Chautauqua Lake and Boca Raton, Florida. I did talk a good game, however. A camp friend’s mom approached my mom in the supermarket and asked how we enjoyed our trip to “the Orient,” including stops in Tokyo, Peking (now called Beijing) and Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). I’d told her son that we’d visited all three, not expecting word to reach my mother. I should have stuck with domestic locales.

Asthma and fear of flying shrunk the radius of my range as I grew older. I couldn’t even handle a semester abroad like my college friends, though I managed a three-week solo trip to Italy between jobs in 1979, taking hundreds of Nikon photos I still peruse to remind me that I really could hit the long road, if I so chose.

There was also the six-week honeymoon my wife and I took in 1981, traveling from Lisbon, Portugal, to Rome. It included charcuterie picnics beside swan lakes, a visit with Maurice Chevalier’s mistress in Arles, France, eating gravel-tasting calves’ brains (by mistake) in Barcelona, Spain, and other forever memories. But in the 43 years since, I’ve barely touched foreign soil unless you count Toronto — and my daughter’s wedding at an Italian vineyard (I was mostly walking on air).

So, what happened to keep me so homebound when my heart yearns to wander? I can name plenty of culprits — work, children, time zone challenges, 9/11, COVID-19, the dog. But the real resistance lies within me. I like the idea of going to faraway places, but the stressful, routine-busting reality? Not so much, especially return hauls with inevitable airport delays, turbulence, lost bags and jet lag exhaustion. I never have to dread the long schlep home because I’m already home. And frankly, the food’s better here than there, along with the water pressure, mattresses and definitely the drivers.

I realize long-distance travel is recharging and offers a fresh perspective — and an appreciation — of your regular life and ZIP code. It’s always enlightening to be a tourist in a strange land, but you have to break out of your comfort zone. It takes enormous force of will to get me to go crosstown for dinner, never mind take leaps across the world.

One of author Allan Ripp's travel posters. (Allan Ripp)
One of author Allan Ripp’s travel posters. (Allan Ripp)

Increasingly as I age, I also calculate the trade-offs of straying too far: the lost iPhone, the bout of food poisoning or worse. My sister recently returned from five wondrous weeks in India carrying vials of rabies vaccine from being bitten by a feral street dog. At that price, you can keep the Taj Mahal.

And yet, my globe-trotting dreams are fulfilled, thanks to an apartment full of vintage travel posters. Our walls are adorned with colorful, sun-dappled scenes of the French Riviera, a village in Denmark, sheep grazing on a pastoral hill overlooking the River Tweed in Scotland, the white-washed Greek island of Andros, giraffes marching across the Serengeti. Merely walking from one room to another stamps my mental passport.

This summer will be much like last summer and the one before: commuting to a weekend house 95 miles away, plus two weeks at the beach. Nothing on tap for East Asia. But I can still be transported by the 1930s railway poster facing my bed, promoting India’s enticing Shillong Valley — the “Scotland of the East.” It’s a Shangri-La view of a cozy thatched cottage nestled in a lush forest, only “24 hours from Calcutta.”

Maybe next summer.

Allan Ripp runs a press relations firm in New York.

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email [email protected].

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here