Once you get there, where do you go?

Some of the travel world’s harshest criticism is reserved for those who impose the norms and expectations of one place onto another. It can be as simple as dressing a certain way, demanding speedy service, or expecting a certain language. It can be as heavy as trying to impose a style of government, farming or birth control.

However, a place can also be transformed for the better when it chooses to adopt the norms of another place or time. A small town bar can become Bourbon St. with a few strands of beads and the right music, freeing people from their daily routines in the process. Woodstock showed the world that San Francisco could exist outside of San Francisco. Cities let you travel daily through your choice of restaurant.

What allows this to happen? How can a place become so different, so fast? I think it’s suspended disbelief, no different from what enables us to believe a movie or root for a character in a book.

As we travel, it’s our choice when and where to suspend our disbelief (or not). We vote yay or nay on transformations of place with our feet and our wallets. Some people won’t go to Disney because they say it’s fake, while others wish upon a star every year. Foreign movie theaters and fast food joints can bring a few minutes of home to the homesick. Venice isn’t the only place you can ride a gondola. Historical re-enactment can put a place on the map, and even in Manhattan someone is keeping those antique horse-and-carriage operations in business.

It comes down to making choices about not just where we go, but where we decide to go once we’re there.

Photo of The Venetian Las Vegas by Thinboyfatter.

Posted by | Comments Off on Once you get there, where do you go?  | February 17, 2010
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road

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