“Travel with those of like mind, for whom an elegant voyage through America is as treasured a gift for them as it is for you.” I was struck by the first phrase in that sentence, buried in a brochure from Uncommon Journeys, advertising the new French America Line riverboat, the Lousiane.
This boat, with only 75 suites and staterooms, promises a lovely experience, one on which I would happily indulge. But that idea of traveling with people who share our worldview, well, that conjured up all the ways the travel world has grown stratified. Oceangoing cruise lines are creating ships-within-ships for the people who can afford larger rooms and luxurious shared spaces accessible only to the upscale few. Hotels, with their club floors, have been doing the same thing for years. The Transportation Security Administration lets those whom it deems safe, and who have paid for the privilege, pass through security lines more quickly.
At times, it seems we want to see the wider world — but only from our own, comfortable bubble. I, by the way, am as guilty as anyone.
Private driver or crowded city-to-city bus? Usually, I opt for the driver. But back in the day — that “day” being when funds were more limited — I took a bus from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo. Traditional music played loud from a boom box. The vinegary scent of aging apple cider wafted from the overhead rack. It was one of the most vivid memories of the trip.
The riverboat brochure also made me think of one of America’s most famous (if imagined) Mississippi River travelers. Huck Finn floated down the waterway with escaped slave Jim and a couple of unwelcome con men — people certainly not of “like mind” — and those experiences helped broaden his understanding of and appreciation for his world.
Once in a while, we should all travel by local bus — and metaphorical raft.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.