Many of us drive, either for our everyday lives or on business. For a long time, more people and more cars meant more car travel, but that trend appears to have slowed and stopped. While the rest of us were watching airlines bicker with passengers over fees and distribution methods, Alexis Madrigal, senior editor for The Atlantic, cites a recent study in which eight industrialized nations, including the U.S., have seen a reversal in the growth evolution of automobile travek,
Madrigal's two points are well-taken:
- we’re never good at predicting the dropoff or peak of trends, and
- our fascination with far-off places seems to wane when places don’t seem so very far off.
A rationalization of automobile travel is not a bad thing at all. Madrigal highlights that a decrease in automobile reliance among more of the population may equate to a normalization of harmful emissions in the long run, at least in the automobile segment.
If I may veer off into unsafe assumption territory, this may mean that we will learn to use ground transport more efficiently. In the car rental space, companies like Zipcar and Sixt have gotten very good at low-cost, convenient rental experiences for city dwellers who don’t rely on cars every day. Although a typical city taxicab is not a marvel of innovation, a taxi moves more people to more places every day than an individually owned car could ever pretend to. With parking spots in my hometown of Boston regularly in the six-figure realm, it is little wonder many are choosing to sacrifice the their wheels in order to live a little bit lighter, not to mention cutting both costs and their environmental footprint as well.
Madrigal's second message, i.e., that of a place being more exciting in inverse proportion to the ease of getting there, piques my curiousity. That's because those of us who travel extensively, and frequently, may agree that seeing a place for the first time carries with it a certain excitement, but we also agree that the truly great places never lose their luster. As for exclusivity or foreignness, this can be found anywhere from your garden variety Antarctic expedition to one of those islands off of any coast on Earth that can be reached only by boat. This is one of the hallmarks of a road warrior — just like having lots of tricks about traveling light, you are able to truly appreciate the view wherever you find yourself.
Road Warrior • Miami • Madrid • www.amadeus.com