Blog: Dave LeggettAddicted to travel

Dave Leggett | 2 March 2007

I heard an interesting statistic on the radio while driving home from the office the other day. Back in 1890, the average British adult travelled the sum total of 35 miles a year. By 1990, the travelling had picked up to 35 miles a day. Staggering, really.

Are we still travelling more? I suspect so. Road congestion gets worse and cheap flights have also made long distance international travel a routine activity.

Any 17-year-old here is itching to get a driving licence and their first car. The car gives you freedom. It’s liberating and fun to drive a car. Go where you want, when you want. And in the process impress your friends and the whole neighbourhood by playing the latest album by someone called something like '50 Pence' at 180 decibels.

And yet we have technology at our disposal that makes communication across distances easier than ever before. I regularly talk to people on the other side of the world on Skype and the audio quality is such that we could be in the same room. Skype-to-Skype calls cost nothing. Amazing technology.

The appetite for travelling has not gone away though, has it? IT was supposed to bring about the paperless office, but I’m looking at three skyscraper piles of paper and magazines that are threatening to collapse at any moment.

Yes, you can get on the telephone, send SMS messages to mobiles, email, use ‘instant messaging’, Skype and so on, but you still have to meet people in the real world sometimes. And that's not usually a chore. We are social animals.

Likewise, you can access webcams on the web and have a look at the weather in Miami right now, but that’s no substitute for going there and getting the full sensory immersion. In fact, easier access to high quality information about the world makes it more likely that in reading about, say, the good surfing to be had on deserted beaches in Vietnam, you will make a few clicks and book yourself a break in Da Nang.

People don’t like giving up stuff they like. Tackling CO2 hits a tricky paradox that politicians must wrestle with. Of course we don’t want a screwed up world or polar bears to disappear, but we really do rather like our cars and our cheap flights.

Just don’t complain when you get to Da Nang that the world and his wife are already there.


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