Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
8:51 pm EDT
Tue, July 14, 2020

The perils of ‘mega-travel’


Risky realms and crowing couples may not be worth the trip.

Story: Joe Angione

Retirement has allowed my wife and me to travel and see so many countries that there are not many places we haven’t been…or at least that we’d want to see.

In our 20 years of retirement, we’ve traveled to 86 countries around the globe. Although it’s getting difficult to find new places to visit, we’re still not among the world’s “mega-travelers.” For that, I’m told we have to visit more than 100 countries.

For a variety of reasons, the pickings are slim among the places we haven’t visited. Some are agonizingly far away, like 25-hour plane rides from Orlando. Some are too primitive and risky to one’s health. Others are too dangerous for safe travel, such as parts of the Middle East. And there are a few that are prohibitively expensive, such as $13,000 per person for a 16-day tour of the Arctic.

The more you’ve traveled, the more your choices for new experiences become exotic, out-of-the-way places, like sleeping in tents in the Sahara…zip-lining across 400-feet-deep ravines in Chile…driving breathlessly across 18,000-feet-high passes in the Peruvian Andes…cruising through iceberg-filled channels off the coast of Greenland…and, most frightening of all, getting thrown overboard from a raft in the treacherous whitewater rapids of Wyoming’s Snake River Gorge. We were nearly killed there.

To become a “mega-traveler,” there are some risks you can’t avoid. And should you enter the realm of these fearless travelers, you may find it’s an obnoxious place, where “one-upmanship” is played daily. Couples may join you at dinner, or sit next to you on a tour bus, solely to impress you with the length and breadth of their travels. They’ll ask you if you’ve been to a certain country. If you say yes, they’ll ask “but have you been there six times like us…in the best season…and have you been to all the top cultural attractions?” Don’t swap travel stories with them. Yours will never top theirs.

But why avoid a place you’ve already visited? Often, it’s because it’s no longer what it was. It’s far more crowded, more expensive, the political climate has changed. It’s filled with people who’ve brought crises with them and soaring levels of anti-Americanism. A place you visited only a year ago may today be a no-go zone. Travel all you can. But travel wisely and safely.