Magazine article Insight on the News

Road Worriers

Magazine article Insight on the News

Road Worriers

Article excerpt

Millions take to the road but not always as happy tourists. Pining for pets or a good night's sleep are big hang-ups.

These days the planet seethes with tourists, agog over scenic views and local dialects. According to the World Tourism Organization, about 664 million tourists wandered the Earth last year. We aren't all happy ramblers, however. We tend to unravel while we travel, just a bit at a time.

The international travel agency Thomas Cook released a survey which found, for example, that one-half of us drag along some tactile reminder of home on our treks -- everything from tea bags to a personal pillow, slippers, canned food, photos, foolish knick-knacks or a preferred brand of beer.

The poll also found that 35 percent of those surveyed admitted to missing their pets more than anyone or anything when away on holiday. Eleven percent said they missed little Boots so much that they actually phoned home to speak to the pined-for pet. The hospitality industry does not overlook such longing. San Francisco's Hotel Monaco offers "loaner goldfish" for guests who miss their pets, and plenty of bed-and-breakfasts brag about affable resident dogs or cats on their lists of "services."

Some can't bear to leave their faithful companions behind, however. The Travel Industry of America reports that 14 percent of us -- some 30 million people -- take our pets on vacation because "owners apparently want to share their travel experiences with their pets." It is the dog who goes along most frequently, followed by the cat, birds, ferrets, rabbits and, yes, fish.

Separation anxiety and pet angst notwithstanding, tourism clearly has become a favorite pastime, and the World Tourism Organization is determined to make the best of it. Representing 139 countries, the Madrid-based group declared Sept. 27 "World Tourism Day" and planned to hold an official celebration in Iran. …

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