We read the Boston Globe everyday since we've been back in the States. I especially like the Sunday paper. It's chock full of ideas for blog posts. I always migrate to the Travel Section first since we're not traveling at the moment and I'm missing it. I have to admit, however, though the exotic places sound wonderful, the description of the offered tours make me cringe.
“Six nights, seven days … See Peru!” Really? It's a whole country, for heaven's sake, with such diversity you'd be hard pressed to see it over a period of months. “Tahiti in 5 days!” Never! And therein lies the rub. We're spoiled. We visit a country and plan on staying awhile, maybe even a year or more. When you travel with a tour or a package deal, it's a quick look-see with lots of other people and then you're off to another destination or heading home. “If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium.” It's all a blur.
When you travel on a boat, you arrive and you settle in for awhile. You get to know the locals. You know where the best veggies are and where the diesel fuel is the cheapest. You don't stay at resorts; you bring your home with you or you travel on the cheap to make your dollars go as far as they possibly can … and you don't mind at all. You know the shortcuts into town. You know where to catch the bus and when. You start tasting the flavor of the place. Not the commercial, spoon-fed, tourist-packaged flavor, but the real thing.
We've often thought that the next best thing to traveling to a new country in a boat would be to rent an apartment there for a few months or maybe even a year. When we were in Panama and wandering around in Panama City, we discovered some lovely sections of the city that had reasonably priced apartments. A day visit on a cruise ship wouldn't have gotten us past the Canal and souvenir vendors. What a great adventure it would have been to live there for an extended period of time and use it as a base of operations for exploring the region. What a great way to learn the culture and meet the people. Maybe when we are too old to be hoisting sails and braving gales, we will take up this lifestyle.
All that said, if you can't travel on your own boat and if you can't manage an extended stay in a new and exotic country, tour travel beats no travel at all.