When you’ve been on the road and your poor planning means that you don’t have any recreational reading to peruse during that dinner for one, you’re probably going to end up looking at what might be called, generically, “travel magazines.” That loose category includes the in-flight magazines on airplanes, the city magazines found in hotel rooms, and all other magazines that regularly feature multiple articles on traveling.
If you read such magazines, be prepared to be charged with enthusiasm about, well, just about everything and everywhere. Because no one, anywhere, is more enthusiastic about anything than travel writers are about their subject. Next to these guys, Mary Kay consultants, recent converts to the Church of Scientology, and the paid actors raving about the latest piece of exercise and weight-loss equipment on a TV commercial seem glum and disinterested.
You can’t have too many exclamation points in these travel magazine articles. Every city, no matter how backward, dirty, or decrepit, receives the most glamorous photo montage that can be prepared without engaged in outright Potemkin Village falsehood. Every restaurant is one of the finest in the region. Every city is growing and experiencing an explosion of diversity and development. And pay no attention to the stories that you might have read about political and liberty issues in, say, mainland China. Hey, these guys are wearing sunglasses and western clothing. How cool is that!
Another thing about these magazines, too: they’re incredibly bossy, presumptuous, and somewhat unnerving. You see articles with headlines like “Twelve Things You Must Do in Akron!” or “The Ultimate Guide to Mung Bean Tourism!” or “Three Absolutely Perfect Days in The Bronx!” telling you that you have to do this or you’d be insane not to do that. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever had one “absolutely perfect” day, much less three in a row.
If you read enough travel magazines, you might come to the conclusion that that you may as well plan to travel everywhere and anywhere, because it’s all great. Or, if you’re like me, you think of the old saying “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”