Traveling a Distance

This past weekend I traveled a few hours each way to visit family. When I got back, I had some chores to do. This rush to try to get my chores done (such as laundry) before work tomorrow reminded me of the concept of a long drive or trip. To me, a four or five hour trip is an undertaking but not impossible. I have been on a nearly 10 or so hour trip (high school choir trip). That was a looong trip. Now a half hour drive is simply a commute. However I do distinctly remember my conversations abroad about traveling and the distances involved.

I grew up in the Midwest where, lets face it, it takes a long time to get to most places when you aren’t in a city like Chicago. Like I said earlier, long drives are not unusual to me. However, I do not hold any illusions that a drive for 4 hours is desirable. I really wish that I had the ability to teleport. I am fully aware that people in Texas often have it worse. Regardless, I think that no matter where you grew up in the US, you are moderately aware of the size and general distance of the country. Now I am also aware that there are Americans who don’t really have a grasp of how Europe compares in size and distance to the US. That is often pointed out about us but what isn’t so well known is that sometimes there are Europeans who are equally unaware of the distances involved with the US.

I was in my Spanish class in Spain and I was talking about Christmas with a few classmates. They were talking about taking a two hour flight home. I’m not sure if they felt that two hours is a long trip but it felt to me that they thought that way. I remember mentioning that if I wanted to go home, I would have to take an 8 hour flight home, which even for me is an exhaustive (and definitely expensive) trip. I vaguely remember their surprise at the time frame. That part of the discussion is not very clear in my memory, I must admit. There was a much sharper point later.

I was pointing out to them where in the Midwest I am from. I think that I was telling them where in relation to a city in a number of hours. The comment that to this day sticks out in my head, even though I can’t remember who said it, was “Have you ever gone to NYC? Its just right there.” I think that most Midwesterns are fully aware, that NYC is not “just right there.” That is a few hours away, even by plane. Now, please don’t think that I am picking on my classmate here. I really don’t remember who said it and they were so innocent about the question. I think that I answered the question with something along the lines of it isn’t close, and it is more like halfway across Europe. The distance would be comparable to what they would be using to fly home. Which brings me to the idea of distance.

A flight within Europe can easily be less than $100 depending on the locations, baggage, and airline. Similarly so can a flight within the US, again depending on the same variables. I just find it fascinating though, that to a person who is used to very short commute times or the ability to just walk to a shop fairly quickly, may be used to the idea that a long trip is a couple of hours. Where someone like me, who grew up in an area where a car was a necessity of life, a two hour trip to somewhere can make a day trip. A couple of hours is not the worst trip ever. A commute means different things to different people. Did you grow up in a place where two hours was a long trip or one where it is a short one? What do you think of as a long trip? Do you measure distance in driving time or something else? Please answer below with your comments and thanks for reading.

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