Travel Explainer

What’s at the End of the Road Not Taken?

The Explainer answers travel questions for the month of August.

Lost? Confused? The Travel Explainer can help!

Photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock

For many of us, August is the time of year when we set out for parts unknown—or perhaps parts comfortingly familiar. It’s the month of beach schleps and backpacking sojourns, of road trip warriors and Rick Steves wannabes. At the height of summer, we want to stuff our bags and grab our passports; we want to get out and go somewhere, anywhere, else. We want to travel!

The trouble is, traveling is always easier in theory than it turns out to be in practice. There are questions of logistics and finance to attend to, not to mention the fundamental quandary of exactly where, in this big wide world, we should go. And then there are the million-and-one details and contingencies that can make or break even the most carefully planned trip. Yes, the road (or airport, or train station, or hotel lobby, or customs line) is trembling with uncertainty and shadowed by mystery—so much so, in fact, that it’s a wonder any of us ever take that first step out the door.

But in the restless month of August, staying put is not an option. In order to help everyone get going, my Slate colleagues and I have created a first-class series of Explainers on all things travel, ranging from the painfully practical (can you legally use the airplane bathroom even when the seatbelt sign is on?) to the charmingly whimsical (why does hotel carpet feel weird?). We’ll publish a few of them each week—and who knows, maybe a solution to your own particular quandary will arrive just in the nick of time, like a departure delay announcement when your airport shuttle is stuck in traffic. Bon voyage!

Take the grand tour of the rest of our Travel Explainers here.