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Question of the Week: Getting Lost (7/13/2001)

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I don't care how smart you are, how well-traveled, how canny your ability to estimate longitude by the position of the sun. If you travel, you will get lost. Not confused. Not disoriented. Lost. Your sense of direction will fail you. Maps will fail you. Your former Eagle-Scout training will fail you...and you, Traveler, will be directionally clueless. But don't feel too bad. It happens to the best of us. Some travelers even get lost on trips requiring only one road...

Next Week: Politically Correct Travel

Are you a politically correct traveler? Do you support countries that seem to share your social and political values - and avoid places that don't?

I remember back in the '70's, I was offered a trip to South Africa to give a speech. There was the lure of a big animal safari and a climb up Tabletop Mountain in Capetown. I wanted to go but I was definitely against supporting the racist government. I rationalized the trip because I was giving a speech there and thought it was worth going to put in my two cents' worth about their horrendous human rights agenda. I had a great time, saw elephants, got to swim around the tip of the African continent and all, but it really bothered me that even my few tourist dollars bolstered that government. I was horrified to see the way blacks were treated, forced out of Johannesburg by the stroke of sundown every single afternoon. One day I was invited to lunch at a magazine editor's house. Not a wealthy woman. She was single with a mid-management salary, and like most of the whites I met there, she had some ten servants. Gardner, cook, chauffer, seamstress, maid, etc. All black. All packed up to hurry out of the city by sundown.

In the end, there was no doubt in my mind that I had made a mistake and I felt very guilty about the trip. And since that time, I make an effort not to visit and support places that offend my sensibilities. How about you? Call in with your experience of visiting a place that goes against your social conscience and how it affected you. Or perhaps the opposite. Maybe you've become a big fan of a place that meshes perfectly with your views.

Call or email us and share your story. The number is 888-SAV-TRAV. That's 888-728-8728.

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