The Commodification of Travel.

In The Travel Habit, WPA guidebooks by IanLeave a Comment

It is clear when looking at the travel guides were used for the commodification of differences. Before the government initiative of the travel guides the difference in lifestyles was already present in modern literature and art, artists were already using the cultural hardships of others to get ahead.

But the travel guides went a step farther in, “it transforms local culture into a tourist attraction, and the tourist attraction into a symbol of national loyalty, in order to reproduce patriotism as a form of brandname identification.”

The difference being no one read Steinbeck and said “yes, lets go see that” the traveling authors were more legitimate narratives than the guidebooks. Whereas the guides focus was tourism driven in order to revamp crumbling economies. Instead of people traveling from New York to California for the sole reason of getting to where they were going the guides worked to interest those who had the luxury of traveling to take routes through these otherwise untraveled roads in order to see the landscape or meet people they have heard about in the guides.

The goal of, “the guaranteeing of a united, harmoniously diverse citizenry; the demarcation of a safe, knowable (and hence controllable) space within all the changes and threats of modernity; and the demonstration of cultural maturity on the international stage” worked only to further divide regionally those who encompassed the US. Showing exactly how far behind some of these areas were than others.


In the end one can assume the guidebooks did their job in forcing all regions to keep up with modernization.It is easier for change to happen locally if you are aware of the happenings nationally. No small town wants to be the one left behind and soon they began their climb to relevance rather than remaining how they were.

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