Monday, February 7, 2011

Art as an Escape, Google, and Why More Americans Don't Travel Abroad

As we endure a true winter in New England, and some of us are getting tired of the white, snowy landscape for weeks on end, despite its beauty, I thought it appropriate to write on "escapes."

I love travel, and since I teach and conduct research on networks and especially transportation & logistics, travel is part of my "practica." My international travel is almost exclusively coupled with professional travel. I have also lived abroad in several countries, with these experiences being some of my very best.

I gain inspiration from museums, whenever I have a chance, and art especially feeds my mind and my soul. One of my recent favorite museums that I had a chance to explore two summers ago while in Paris (where I spoke at two conferences) is the Musee Marmottan Monet. When I close my eyes I can transport myself to the perfect Sunday in Paris when my family and I visited this museum and were surrounded by Monet paintings followed by the most delicious lunch of baguette sandwiches in the neighboring park. The website for this exquisite museum housed in a mansion will break up this winter's whiteness.

CNN Travel has an interesting article entitled: "Why more Americans don't travel abroad," in which it is reported that only 30% of Americans hold passports (and this is a jump from only teens a few years ago and attributed primarily to the requirement of travel to Canada). The article notes that 60% of Canadians hold passports and 75% of those in the United Kingdom.The below quotes are taken from the article:

"Not taking the leap is comforting, because this is the American life," said Matthew Kepnes, international traveler and creator of, a blog chronicling his travels and observations. "Breaking outside anything that is your norm is scary."

Tourism experts and avid travelers attribute Americans' lack of interest in international travel to a few key factors, including: the United States' own rich cultural and geographic diversity, an American skepticism and/or ignorance about international destinations, a work culture that prevents Americans from taking long vacations abroad and the prohibitive cost and logistics of going overseas.

If you can't get away but would like to feed your soul, thanks to Google and its Art Project, which was reported on in The New York Times, you can now take a virtual journey through some of the world's art museums.

Above are some photos taken in Paris two summers ago.

Of course, at this point in a New England winter, we may all just decide to move to Hawaii, where I spoke at a fabulous conference last May!