The Road to Nowhere

In The Travel Habit, Tourism during the Depression by Ian1 Comment

Having been born well after the 1930’s I had often wondered how the idea of travel especially the idea of vacations became tied to the american way of life.

One thing the past readings have shown is that the idea of traveling as a form of relaxation was not present in writings from traveling authors who visited and wrote about the down and out in rural america.

However after, “decades worth of paid-vacation advocacy and aggressive tourism promotion had created a cultural climate in which Americans had come to view vacationing as more than a trivial diversion.”

The new found importance of vacationing could be seem as the ultimate social change of the New Deal. After sinking money into new roads and bridges along with the fleet of young artists making travel guides in order to sell the need to see other areas of the nation, the new deal was able to provide the means as well as the will to travel and vacation in the US which ultimately sets up a perpetual economic stimulus to rural america.

As travel is continually looked at as an american right, the goal of forced relevance on rural america and reliance on the wealth of travelers and passersby in order for their towns to turn a profit set up a new form of sharecropping.

Whereas as long as the town has a reason for people to visit and thus have a good crop of tourists, their off season wont be too rough but if they have a weak crop and are not able to bring about visitors then there off season will be rough and the amount of indebtedness from the rural towns of america will continue to grow until another collapse leaves them as down and out as it did in the 1930’s


  1. I find it interesting how in earlier units we’d talk about how tourism objectifies a culture, minimizing it to a consumer friendly size. Yet, this vacationing could somehow be a catalyst for economic wellbeing. By the ‘tourists’ visiting other parts of the country, they stimulate the economy and help the towns they visit flourish. They become the consumers. It’s also compelling how close to bankruptcy all these towns are. If they don’t get enough visitors in one year, they won’t survive. It’s crazy.

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