Oct 22, 2008

The decreasing returns to traveling

Jackie Lee is a traveler. While in Europe for his master’s degree, he flew to all easyjet destinations from Geneva. When in Bergen, enjoying the view of the amazing fjord and the UNESCO World Heritage city, he noted: “I don’t get impressed anymore by these things that are supposed to be gorgeous. I traveled too much”.

There are indeed decreasing returns to traveling, at least for some of us. Here's a way to grow old and keep on having fun traveling. It's all about technological progress in the pleasure production function as can be seen below.

12 comments:

Sebastian said...

I am sorry for all those that need "technical" inovations to make their travelling more appealing. The beauty of travelling is not primarily in the beauty of a stretch of coast line, but the experiences you make at this place. Since people are different you will never have decreasing returns as long as you interact with the locals rather than hanging around in your backpacker hostel drinking cold beer with the ususal bunch of Europeans/Australians/North Americans....

Maribou said...

I definitely agree but don't you think that even that could get a bit tiring or not as enjoyable the more 'local interactions' you experience?

F said...

You are a genius!

F said...

and, after all..

1) maybe having fun in Bergen is hard after 5pm..not much left but the fjord view

2)why does jackie keep on travelling even with the kinda same technology? maybe one is led also by the simple lust for travelling. Or just because he/she wants to put a little flag on every single nation/city regardless of the decreasing returns from trips! (this makes me think of Jackie's average 1-day city-hopping)...

Dany said...

the is a big difference between a traveler and a tourist. The decreasing returns goes to the latter, not to the former....

Pierre-Louis said...

yeah, tourists are American and wear flashy bermudas and huge sunglasses and flip flops and don't understand anything about local cultures, they even eat at Mc Donalds when they travel!!! its not like travelers, who are just the coolest thing that ever existed, who just blend perfectly with any culture and really connect to the people through spiritual conversations about political economy...these definitely dont suffer form decreasing returns, they're way too cool...by the way if that shit was true, it would be tourists that wouldn't suffer from decreasing returns, as they have fun even they always do the same thing!

cosimo said...

What is the purple line? What economic intuition does it represent? Why is it steeper, the higher the number of travels? On the purple line, I read increasing returns...

Pierre-Louis said...

its in the paper cosi!

cosimo said...

OK, technological progress determines a the convex relation between travel and happiness (the pink line). So either a "shock" will make you move along the pink line (e.g., if at trip t you backpacked, at trip t+1 you are at the Hilton, supposedly with higher utility); or a "shock" shifts the curve upward (the same trip t is more enjoyable if you sleep at the Hilton than in a dorm). In the first case, you want to travel more until you reach the equilibrium where the curves cross. In the second case, the equilibrium shifts Northwest, so at the optimum you want to travel less. But in neither case does the concave function moves. The concave function is arguably given by preferences, not by technology.

Dany said...

I love the examples man!! but I'm thinking in something else. Take tourist/travellers as risk averse/lovers. If the expected probability of the next place you will visit is a "fair game", so the place can be in average as good as the last you have visited, the tourist will not go, but travellers will....

Dany said...

btw, is not important if you sleep in the Hilton or in a tent, but whom you sleep with...

cosimo said...

Dany: I totally agree on the last point.