Travel Addicts


My wife announced yesterday that she is “traveled out.” I’m not surprised — I am too: Since mid-August we’ve taken trips (mostly long weekends) to Istanbul, Munich, French Switzerland, northeast Italy, Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Barcelona, and, starting tomorrow, Paris plus London again.

Her comment illustrates her diminishing marginal utility of travel. Today we’re planning next summer’s vacation, a week starting after a conference I have in Lisbon. I suggested to my wife: “Wouldn’t you rather go to a beach and relax after all the travel we’ve just done?” She said no; she realizes by that time she’ll want to travel around more than she does right now.

She knows how rationally addicted she is to travel. Fortunately it’s an addiction we share — and I bet this is a pretty common kind of joint rational addiction of long-term married couples.

Gary Arndt

I've been traveling non-stop for almost 2 years now. 45 countries/territories and counting.

I really can't see not traveling at this point. I enjoy visiting new places and keeping my travel blog.

It is addictive. I'd rather have my memories when I die than a house full of stuff.


I can recognize an addiction to travel in some of my friends, though I don't know how to recognize a rational addiction.

I think the addiction to travel comes from the feeling of importance it gives you. That and a sense of purpose. If you are coming from lower on the business totem pole, being treated by business class travel feels like a perk.

And the people who are addicted are always tired of traveling. But when you ask, "Would there be a difference if you didn't go?" The answer is always no. "Why are you going?"

I don't see the economic rational of companies sending people around the globe for face to face conversations that last only a couple hours. Yes it needs to happen everyonce in a while, but I believe 80% of travel occurences are not motivated by the bottom line. Instead the motivations are irrational. The employee travels because he is addicted to the positive reinforcement to his self esteem.



I'm not big on traveling, mainly because of the cost. I'd rather have the house full of stuff. Now, if I had a job where I traveled a lot, thereby picking up enough frequent flier miles that I could take my family anywhere for basically free, that would be a different story.


I'm always flying because of my job. I had the opportunity to go to the coast of Kenya for the holidays this year but decided not to simply because traveling for fun has become a foreign concept for me.

If I did think about going though, it was mainly for the vain reason that my trip would allow me to say that I've been on every continent in 2008 (except Antarctica, of course).


Take me with you?!?!? I would love to be able to travel that much but can't afford to. I really don't think I could ever be "travelled out" I enjoy seeing and experiencing new things!

Talk Turkey

I love traveling... but not on business...

I am curious about your observations of Istanbul...


"Since mid-August we've taken trips (mostly long weekends) to Istanbul, Munich, French Switzerland, northeast Italy, Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Barcelona, and, starting tomorrow, Paris plus London again."

What a way to highlight the disparity in this country between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Here we are agonizing over the economy and job losses in the millions, and we have someone complaining about burnout over the number of 'weekend' trips that they have taken around the world. And planning for the same in 2009 when the economy is expected to get worse.

Good for you that you can afford these luxury trips. But there are a GREAT number of people in this country that would take this complaining as pure arrogance.


I've said it many times: I work so I can make money to go out on vacation and travel. However, I hate work trips. It pisses me off to be in nice places such as Miami or Cancun and pass the day in an office or a meeting room, wearing pants and a shirt, instead of relaxing by the pool or on the beach, sipping exotic cocktails and wearing nothing but my swimming trunks.


I don't understand the point of your frenetic travel. How much understanding or enjoyment could you possibly get out of long weekends in all of those cities? Go to a famous site, a museum and a "top" restaurant -- then leave. Your column feels like an excuse to brag about your wealth or connections that have generated these opportunities.


Vic, Hamermesh is in Germany, so these are indeed "weekend" trips. Not "around the world", around Europe.

Tkwon CMS

"She knows how rationally addicted she is to travel. Fortunately it's an addiction we share - and I bet this is a pretty common kind of joint rational addiction of long-term married couples."

You mean, how irrationally addicted she is to travel?
And I doubt that such an addiction is too widespread... unless the population you're referring to is to the upper-middle class.

Fred C. Dobbs

Business travel stinks. I used to be able to walk through most chain hotels with my eyes closed and get to my room. But, then again, the companies I worked for didn't pay for additional stay for personal pleasure.


Bruce .... so it's 'around Europe' instead of the world. I, and my wife in particular, would love to have the opportunity to visit all of the places which were name-dropped. However, the 'optics' of this piece given our economic predicament, to me, still stand.


I'm glad that another commenter pointed out my first reaction: that it seemed like you were rubbing your wealth in the faces of everyone else during this economically hard time.

As the economy continues to worsen (and it is), it might be wise not to mention your extravagances. Remember that most Americans fly on a plane once every five or ten years. If you do so more than that you are part of the 'rich elite'.

Good luck with flaunting your wealth in the future...


I'm proud of the fact that I haven't been more than 100km from my home in the last 3 years. These days the ecological cost of travel needs to be considered more. And these days the internet makes education, collaboration, and all sorts of communication so much easier without travelling.


Those commenting that Hamermesh is "arrogant" for talking about his travel opportunities are probably either forgetting about or not aware of the existence of the low-cost airlines easyJet and RyanAir that make it insanely cheap to travel around Europe on a moment's notice. Even as a poor student living entirely off my rather pitiful savings this fall, I was able to travel from London to Paris, Venice, Geneva, and Edinburgh. With the exception of the last trip, which was by train (but I could have flown), I flew one of the low-cost airlines for a pittance. I also have friends in similar economic situations who traveled to Madrid, Barcelona, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Vienna by using the same airlines.

Most of these trips that Hamermesh is talking about could easily be made for under $100 roundtrip; even if he chose to travel on a nicer airline such as British Airways, he could have gotten tickets for not too much more ($150-200 roundtrip) by booking well in advance. Of course, then there's the question of accomodations, since I imagine he stayed in slightly nicer digs than the hostels where I spent my vacations. Nonetheless, it's still certainly possible to travel all over Europe, even on an extremely limited budget.

Basically, to put the accessibility of European destinations in American terms, what Hamermesh is saying is basically on a par with "I live in Chicago and have traveled to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Denver this year." If travel is what you choose to spend your money on, you don't have to make a whole lot in order to visit all of those cities.



I'm unsure what point the author is trying to convey in this piece. My understanding, from what is presented, is that the author travels extensively with his wife.

While that could perhaps be the start of an interesting narrative, all I garner is that the author has his choice between visiting exotic places and well, hanging out on beaches.

Is this simply a small boast or did I miss something?

It certainly helps me understand the world no better and frankly, leaves me with a small tinge of resentment.

William McCloskey

How very grand for you to be so privileged that you can help burn up all that jet fuel that's laying around, with all the noise- and air-pollution consequences that involves.

William McCloskey


My husband and I were talking about this traveled out feeling recently. We live in Korea and like to travel to somewhere in SE Asia in the winter. We have a month that we could spend in Cambodia but we're only going for 10 days because we just want to spend some time relaxing at home.

I have a friend that used to spend almost all of his generous vacation time in countries all over the world and recently he's stopped doing that. After 7 years and countless countries he's just tired of it.

Now- before all of you start getting angry and bitter because we travel: I'm not thrusting anything in your face. We took the jobs we did in the country that we did specifically so we could have the vacation time and money to be able to travel as long as we are frugal with our money. We made choices that enabled us to have the lifestyle we wanted, and it certainly doesn't involve a lot of money or affluence.



@7, and all the other comments about the author's "bragging"

"Good for you that you can afford these luxury trips. But there are a GREAT number of people in this country that would take this complaining as pure arrogance"

I would be surprised if he has paid for these trips (except portions that were for personal relaxation) from his own pocket. Scholars of high caliber are frequently invited to speak all over the world. Typically such an invitation includes travel expenses at the very least.

My own father traveled in a similar way quite regularly. He was a prominent astrophysicist. So relax, some jobs have different perks than others.