Travelling less

Now that the summer holiday season has come to a close, it has become obvious that all of us are travelling less.

This despite the fact travel is a great deal easier than at any time in several decades. Nowadays it is not unusual for many families to have two cars – unprecedented in preceding generations.

Furthermore, there are more driving licenses than ever before. Also, bicycles have become less expensive and lighter than heretofore. As well, train and bus service has improved over the past two decades, and plane travel fares have become cheaper.

Notwithstanding all of these improvements, we are not travelling as much as in the 1960s and 1970s. Travel by car has declined in part because of the business slump, but also as a result of the rising price of gasoline.

The average family now makes fewer car trips than at any time in over 20 years. Changes in how food is grown, packed and stored mean food lasts longer. Frozen foods, introduced only after the end of the Second World War, have become commonplace, and consequently more people have freezers.

Stores are bigger and carry more items, and chain stores in town centres now carry food. For instance, Shoppers Drug Mart and Wal-Mart have retail food sections. These factors clearly have diminished the need for repeated shopping trips.

Internet shopping has soared whereas almost nothing was available by internet one decade previously. The suburban shopping mall gradually is disappearing while urban retailers have sprung up in many places. Television currently is the pastime for most of us. Multi-channel television offers a great variety of programs, and numbers of us spend many hours on the internet reading or just browsing.

There has been a noticeable reduction in the amount of trips to visit friends. It is surprising that it has become popular to visit online, using emails in place of personal calls, and texting has become the favourite means of communication.

According to Nielsen, a research organization, internet users occupy an average of 50 hours a month online at home. It also was reported that social networking sites are used by more than half of all households.

The phenomenal rise of women in the paid workforce is another element in the decrease in social travel. Women find that they can and do socialize at work. Moreover, church attendance has plummeted, diminishing the number of Sunday car trips.

Travel generally has become far less enjoyable. Traffic on roads is much more onerous, as is plane travel. Perhaps too, we are a much less gregarious society – a rather depressing thought.


Bruce Whitestone