Author Topic: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck  (Read 4913 times)

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Offline The Practical Nomad

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Re: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2022, 12:38:57 PM »
The Amazing Race 34, Episode 6:
Amman (Jordan) - Toulouse (France) - Château de Beynac (France) - Château de Commargue (France) - Domme (France)

Face masks (“respirators”) for safer travel

As I noted last week, one team of contestants on The Amazing Race 34 was eliminated before the last episode because they tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, the remainder of the cast of the reality-TV travel show has more often, although not always, been shown wearing face masks when they are close to other people.

Viruses and bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, and it’s easy for the threat they pose to be “out of sight, out of mind”. As for real-world travellers, it sometimes takes having someone close to us test positive or get sick to remind us of the risks we are taking of infection and/or trip interruption if we resume travelling exactly the way we used to, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 testing is required — more strictly than in almost any other industry in the USA — by Hollywood TV and movie production protocols and union agreements. But masking, at least on camera on "The Amazing Race 34", seems to have been left to cast members’ own judgement....

Our choices are about reducing risk, not eliminating risk. We can no more avoid all risk-taking when we travel than if we stay home. Travel, like everything we do, is inherently risky, and many of the hazards of life are the same whether or not we travel. To keep things in perspective, the greatest risk of death or serious injury to travellers still comes from car crashes. That calls into question the balance of risks in choosing, as the producers of this season of The Amazing Race have done, to have the racers travel by car rather than by train or bus.

During the AIDS pandemic, thinking and advice about risk-taking evolved from sexual abstinence to “safe sex” to “safer sex”. That conceptual framework of “harm reduction” is applicable today to travel: If we are travelling again “after the pandemic”, what can we do to practice “safer travel”, recognizing that there is no such thing (before, during, or after the COVID-19 pandemic) as “safe travel”?...


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Offline The Practical Nomad

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Re: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2022, 11:00:39 AM »
The Amazing Race 34, Episode 7:

Domme (France) - Toulouse (France)
A case study in COVID-19, travel, and insurance

Master of ceremonies Phil Keoghan sends off the racers at the start of each season of "The Amazing Race" with the line, “Travel safe!” But what does that mean? And is it even possible?

My previous couple of columns prompted the e-mail message below from an online acquaintance. With their permission, I am sharing their story, not as a conclusionary parable but as food for thought:

https://hasbrouck.org/blog/archives/002665.html


Offline The Practical Nomad

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Re: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2022, 09:20:40 AM »
The Amazing Race 34, Episode 8:
Toulouse (France) - Malaga (Spain)

"The Amazing Race 34" left Toulouse without a visit to, or mention of, the major reason Toulouse attracts tourists.

In some cities, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Tourists have diverse interests, and I’ve enjoyed visits to places where I never went near any of the marquee attractions. Finding less-crowded alternatives to the best-known attractions may be a higher priority than usual for some travellers in times of continued concern for COVID-19. And what if you’ve already “been there, done that”, and want to explore more of a city or region? Toulouse isn’t prominent on the bucket lists of visitors to France, but it rivals Lyon as the third most populous city in the country after Paris and Marseille. There’s more to see and do almost anywhere, especially in a big city, than shows up on any “must-see” or “must-do” list.

But because even the main attractions in Toulouse aren’t top of mind for foreign visitors, it’s worth pointing them out to those who might be interested and might otherwise pass through (I’ve changed trains in Toulouse, and in Lyons, without having had time to stop over in either of those cities), or nearby, without realizing what they were missing....

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Offline The Practical Nomad

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Re: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck
« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2022, 09:00:48 AM »
The Amazing Race 34, Episode 9:
Malaga (Spain) - Ronda (Spain)

What to do where cash isn’t king

One of the trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the reduced acceptance of cash as a form of payment.

Earlier in this season of The Amazing Race, for example, Molly and Emily made a wrong turn into a parking garage and then couldn’t figure out how to get out without a credit or debit card to use at the unattended pay station at the exit. Eventually, they found another pay station elsewhere in the garage that took cash in Euro notes or coins. But not infrequently these days, there is no provision at all for cash-payment fallback.

Although COVID-19 is spread primarily by air, not by surface contact, fear of surface contagion has provided a rationale (or a pretext, for those businesses and public agencies that already had other reasons, as many did) to stop accepting cash. In other travel contexts, including at TSA checkpoints, the fallacy that “contactless is safer” is invoked even when the alternative to handing over a physical document is having to remove your face mask, which is clearly much more dangerous. Similarly, “For health reasons, we only accept contactless payments,” is an easier sell and seems less customer-unfriendly than, “Your bills and coins aren’t accepted here any more.”

More and more products, services, and points of payment are unavailable without a credit or debit card or some other form of plastic or virtual payment such as a smartphone payment account or a stored-value mass transit farecard.

You can’t always anticipate when and where cash won’t be accepted, and no single type of card or form of virtual payment is universally accepted. In some European countries, for example, payments that in the U.S. would be made by credit or debit card are instead made by transfers directly between bank accounts. If you don’t have an account with an IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which U.S. bank accounts don’t have, you’re out of luck. In China, many merchants and public and private services — from bikeshare rentals to the tiniest tea stalls — not only don’t accept cash but accept only AliPay or WeChat Pay (not Google Pay or Apple Pay), and/or are accessible only through smartphone apps that are available only for phones with Chinese SIM cards and phone numbers and have user interfaces only in Chinese. Sometimes you can cut a deal with a sympathetic bystander: you give them 10 Yuan (US$1.50) in cash, and they buy you a bowl of noodles from the street vendor using their smartphone. If you hold out cash, and a merchant turns it down, a local will often step in to help, even if you don’t speak the local language. But depending on the setting (what if you are alone at an unattended kiosk?) and the product or service, that isn’t always an option....

With cash, you can limit your exposure to pickpockets and snatch thieves, especially when you are making small purchases in crowded public places, by carrying only a small amount of local currency on your person or easily accessible — enough for a day or two or the largest impulse purchase you might want to make. You can keep most of your cash, as well as your credit cards, buried deep in your luggage, or locked up in your hotel, hostel, or apartment if that seems sufficiently secure.

Is there anything similar that you can do to limit the risk you are taking when you hold out a credit or debit card, or your phone, to pay your bus fare or make a small purchase in a crowded market?...

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Offline The Practical Nomad

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Re: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2022, 10:03:31 AM »
The Amazing Race 34, Episode 10:

Malaga (Spain) - Keflavik (Iceland)- Sólheimajökull Glacier (Iceland) - Thingvellir National Park (Iceland) - Gullfoss (Iceland)

The best decision made by any of cast members during this week’s episode of The Amazing Race 34 in Iceland may have been the choice by David and Aubrey to take a two-hour penalty (which they knew would almost certainly mean their elimination from the race) rather than make a third try to complete a memorization task while snorkeling through a crack in the rocks filled with glacial meltwater. The decisive challenge involved memorizing a timeline of major eruptions of Icelandic volcanoes, including Surtsey in 1963 and Eyjafjallajökull in 2010.

Knowing when to fold can be key to winning a game or to staying alive. Extra points to David and Aubrey for having the presence of mind to make a difficult choice despite being cold, tired, and motivated by the chance at a million-dollar prize for the winner of the race. David didn’t know how to swim, or at least not well, and they no longer thought it would be safe to go back in the water, especially after they had already been through a cold, wet, and possibly even more strenuous canyoneering challenge....

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Offline The Practical Nomad

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Re: "The Practical Nomad"--Edward Hasbrouck
« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2022, 10:42:49 AM »
The Amazing Race 34, Episode 11:
Keflavik, Iceland - Lynchburg, TN (USA) - Nashville, TN (USA)

Travelling around the world… without travelling around the world

The Amazing Race 34 ended this week on the historic former stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Music lovers from throughout the USA come to Nashville (and Branson, MO) for country music. But is country music really the epitome of “American” music? And is Nashville really “Music City USA”?

Yes and no, depending on who you ask. Country music is an important component of U.S. musical culture and music tourism, but it’s not the only one. For some visitors, seeing a musical “live on Broadway” may be the quintessential U.S. musical experience. Others see African-American jazz and blues, and the rock-n-roll that grew out of them, as the most significant contribution of the USA to world music. When foreigners come to the USA on music pilgrimages, they may visit Harlem for jazz (even if they are afraid to go to Harlem alone, and go in guided tour groups), or Chicago for blues (even if they go to North Side clubs, rather than to sites of blues history on the South Side), and never think of Nashville.

My point isn’t to put down country music or music tourism to Nashville or Branson. Rather, it’s that different people in the USA are listening to different kinds of music and identifying with different flavors of “American” culture. These include immigrant and minority cultures and subcultures that are both equally American and equally interesting for visitors who seek them out and pay attention to them.

Obvious enough, you may say — but do we have this in mind when we travel to other places?

The Amazing Race 34 was described, as usual, as a race “around the world”. In reality, it took place entirely in the USA, Europe, and the Levant.

Jordan isn’t in Europe, but neither is it a stand-in for all the other continents.

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