Artifact and Analysis

Document 4
Diluting the Travel Experience

Many Americans now "travel," yet few are travelers in the old sense of the word. The multiplication, improvement, and cheapening of travel facilities have carried many more people to distant places. But the experience of going there, the experience of being there, and what is brought back from there are all very different. The experience has become diluted, contrived, prefabricated. . .

Even within the United States to go from one place to another is no longer to travel in the old sense of the word. Not only because, as we often hear, the culture of different parts of the country has been homogenized—so that wherever you go in the United States you see the same motion pictures, hear the same radio programs, watch the same television shows, eat the same packaged foods, select from the same ice cream flavors. We all know how desperately Chambers of Commerce work to create local color, how auto license plates advertise unreal distinctions. Alabama is the "Heart of Dixie," Arkansas is the "Land of Opportunity," Illinois is the "Land of Lincoln," Maine is "Vacationland," Minnesota has "10,000 Lakes," North Dakota is the "Peace Garden State." All this is obvious.

But in addition to this, the democratizing of travel, the lowering cost, increased organization, and improved means of long-distance transportation within our country have themselves helped dilute the experience. Even here at home we are little more than tourists. . . [T]he more we move about, the more difficult it becomes not to remain in the same place.

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image, or, What Happened to the American Dream, New York: Atheneum, 1962