Travel advice from an unexpected source

A Souk in Marrakech, Morocco

New York Times celebrity opinion maker and columnist David Brooks discovers the benefits of simple travel in today’s column:

“Recently I did a little reporting from Kenya and Tanzania before taking a safari with my family. We stayed in seven camps. Some were relatively simple, without electricity or running water. Some were relatively luxurious, with regular showers and even pools.

The simple camps were friendly, warm and familial. . . . The more elegant camps felt colder…”

Brooks goes on to coin a phrase, the ‘Haimish Line,’ referring to the “warmth, domesticity and unpretentious conviviality” found in some places and not others. He decides that more often than not, the extra dollars we spend on luxury isolate us and puts us on the wrong side of the ‘Haimish Line.’

We found this to be true in Morocco. For simplicity, ease and efficiency we took a group tour of the African nation. The tour whisked us through many of the country’s great sites. We covered far more ground in our single week of vacation than we ever would have been able to as independent travelers. But we paid a price for the convenience.

Break free from the culture bubble and enjoy the local hookah, like Shannon here at Djemma el Fna square

We stayed in large western hotels at the cities’ edge. We traveled in air conditioned buses. Most everyone we spoke to spoke English. It was all safe, comfortable, familiar and totally apart from the place we were visiting. The tour was like traveling through an exotic location in a giant bubble of western culture. We took so much of home with us that we didn’t really get to experience the place we traveled so far to visit. We were on the wrong side of Brooks’ Haimish Line.

Brooks proceeds to make broader points about how money is often unwisely spent to isolate us. He eventually concludes with a thought that is a bit of theme here at EverywhereOnce:

Surveying the vast literature of happiness research, prominent scholars suggest: Buy experiences instead of things; buy many small pleasures instead of a few big ones; pay now for things you can look forward to and enjoy later.

Cheers to that.

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5 Comments on “Travel advice from an unexpected source”

  1. grant September 3, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    The only thing you can buy that will make you richer: travel…


  2. Royce Howland October 26, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Great post! I like to think in terms of sinking into a place instead of just skimming across the surface of it. Whether pleasures are small or large, many or few, I think in the main they are best when we get past what is packaged-up & obvious…


    • October 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

      We’re big proponents of “slow travel.” Which is why after 18 or so months on the road, we’ve only covered the ground you see on the “Our Trip” on the front page. It’s also why we needed to pursue this fulltime. LOL.


  3. Raxa Collective November 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Great site! From your profile pic I’m guessing you’ve already been to India? I know the hard work and planning that has gone into your lifestyle, but it’s still a privileged one, so congrats on that, and your focus on staying on the “right side of the line”.

    Our lives are about travel, too, even when we’re not traveling. We write about community, collaboration and conservation around the world, currently based in southern India.

    I look forward to exploring your site further!


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