[FOUNTAIN]Hitting the road

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[FOUNTAIN]Hitting the road

Travel in the old days was a pain. The English word "travel" comes from the Latin word trepalium, which means three pits. Trepalium also refers to a three-hole piece of torture equipment. Because travel can sometimes be a pain, the English word travel transpired from trepalium. And the word "trouble," meaning pain or hardship, has its roots in travel.

Traveling took the form of the modern leisure business that it has become in England in the 1840s. The momentum came from innovative transportation inventions, such as trains and motorboats. Thomas Cook, an avid prohibitionist, once transported participants on a train to a large anti-drinking function -- for only a shilling each. Winning great approval from the passengers on that voyage, Mr. Cook launched new projects, such as group tours to Wales and Scotland. In 1851 he started group tours to the London Trade Exhibition and in 1855 to the Paris Exhibition.

Mr. Cook then expanded group tour projects to the worldwide level, and along the way invented the first traveler's checks. That is how Europe's biggest tourist firm, the Thomas Cook travel agency, got started.

The invaluable benefit of traveling is that people can spend quality time looking back and seeing the world in perspective. For the same reason, Buddhist monks continue the tradition of going about asking for alms to this day. The once debauched Saint Francis strengthened his religious beliefs and awakened to the virtues of a humble life through travel. Indians share a proverb with Japanese that says the more precious the child, the more he or she should travel. They also share the saying that the amount of travel equates to the amount of life, reflecting the wisdom that traveling benefits a person. Then again, the British like to joke, "Taking your wife on a trip is like taking a lunchbox to a dinner party."

Beginning this week, the majority of the nation's elementary, junior and senior high schools have recessed for the summer vacation. For travel agencies, that means a peak demand for overseas and domestic trips. The Incheon International Airport authorities said recently that they estimate some 1.81 million people will travel in and out of the airport from July 19 through Aug. 11, the highest figure to date in terms of number of travelers overseas. With the won gaining in value against the U.S. dollar, there are voices of concern of overspending on luxurious goods by Koreans in a foreign land. Why not find a quiet, reflective place in this country instead of going overseas?

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jai-hyun

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