Blog Post: On the Road
How Sal and Dean travel: Sal and especially Dean participate in subsistence traveling; they go wherever they want to go and only take with them the bare essentials. They make, beg, borrow, or steal enough money to get them to the next city. They follow no rules and when they have had enough, they move on. For Sal in Dean the actual act, or art, of traveling—of getting to the destination—is just as important as the destination. It makes sense to call the beatniks nomads. They don't really seem to mind that they don't have a home; at least Dean doesn't. It is almost like he finds home in the people he meets and the crazy moments he has with them. While reading this book I kept questioning what Dean was running away from; was it responsibility? Or maybe growing up? But it think now that he was running away from knowing himself. We have spent a lot of time in class discussing inner travel and how one can find out a lot about who they are and his/her identity through inner travel but it doesn't seem like Dean takes that time to reflect and actually think about how his movements affect him and the people around him. He just goes.
How Young Adults travel now: If young people travel, it is rarely alone. Often accompanied by parents and a strict itinerary, young adults experience a very different kind of travel than the "beatniks". Usually, young adults go with their families on habitual vacations to the same destination; beach house, favorite beach, or exotic location. It is rare for young adults to go out into the world spontaneously, without supervision, and spend their own money. It seems to me that young people have more and more responsibilities' tying them down. Dean too has responsibilities and he ignores. But I think that there is a balance. Sometimes everyone needs to vacate his/her life; it keeps us sane. Just like Dean doesn't reflect on his travel, I also think that people who habitually travel to the same places and go through the "routine" of vacation often don't really reflect on why they are traveling and what they experience. it is just something to be done, to be expected.
At my high school graduation, the Superintendent of Schools made a speech. In it he said, "Life is not about the journey, it's about the destination." At first we thought that he had just got the quote wrong, but as he continued to speak we realized that he meant what he said. He also gave a similar speech two weeks later at the 8th grade graduation. Was I witnessing a paradigm shift? Is life really about the destination now? When I thought about how I travel, I realized that I spend a lot of time, effort, and money on trying to make the actual travel portion of my trip as short and easy as possible. No one takes road trips anymore. No one wants to spend the time getting somewhere when they can just be there.
Travel with family: I personally think that there is a time and a place to travel with one's family based on the age and maturity of its members. I know from experience that there is nothing more frustrating than getting hit in the back of the legs with a stroller while walking through the Louvre or trying to learn about the Palace of Versailles while a toddler screams his/her head off in the back of the gilded room. Places like Disney Land and theme parks were made for families. I know that it can get tedious for parents to spend their vacation time with fictional characters, but how much more enjoyable is it to cart your 3 year old around France and having to pay more attention to them than appreciating the culture. I had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling with my parents this summer. Because I was able to really understand and impress myself in the culture and express myself I was able to get so much more out of the experience. I really enjoyed it! I learned so much about France (the Parisian culture in particular), my parents, and myself.
What is gained and lost in these different experiences? I think that because Dean and Sal had so little structure to their travel they learned significantly less than they could have (this applies much more for Dean than Sal). However, too much structure, as is the case with most modern travel, creates the same results. There needs to be a balance between the amount of risk/spontaneity and planning. A wise friend once told me, "Everyhting in moderation-- including moderation." I think the same applies to travel.