Just a couple of comments, additions, etc.....
> Why don't I travel more? Why have I never traveled outside the Continental U.S.?
> I personally have some ambivalent feelings about traveling. There is the expense of
> hotel accomodations,
In many places in the world (Indonesia, Cambodia, ...), you can get a decent (and clean) hotel room for US$10 per night. In a lot more places, you'd get it for US$ 20 (Thailand, Malaysia, ...). And, almost everywhere, you can, if you look hard for it find a hotel room for as low as US$ 50 a night.
An alternative is home exchange or even couchsurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.com/
). You will travel for cheap, and get the best opportunity to meet the locals.
Or just exchange with people over the internet, and then go and visit them.
> plane fare
This one can hardly be reduced. only advance planning will get you lower fares.
> or gasoline/rental car expense,
Public transport is very oftne the best place to meet the locals.
> it seems that everything I want to see requires fees to do so.
The landscape is always free. And museums are free in many places (London, for instance), or have a time everyweek when they are free. In Asia, you seldpm pay more than a couple of US$ to get into a museum.
> Then, there is constant eating out.
This can be cheap too. You get very good (and healthy) meals for US$ 1 or 2 in many places: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, .... In Europe, if you pay attentioon, and try to avoid the tourist traps, youcan have many meals for as low as EUR 10 (US$ 12).
> And, then the shopping, souvenir or just cause you are away from home.
Going out of the tourist track will get you cheap and authentic stuff, and often, you will have the opportunity to meet the author of the object. Even in Japan, you can find a lot of fun stuff in a 100-Yen shop (US$ 0.85).
> You can save up for months or a year and then blow it all in a week or two.
Or you can save up for months and travel for months.....
> (btw, I get 5 weeks vacation per year on my job)
Good news! Enjoy!
> Then, there is inconvenience and fatigue.
For me, it is counterbalanced by the discovery of new people, places, etc...
> While at home, everything is at my fingertips, right where I put it.
> There are no crowds or lines (unless I choose to go to the grocery). I can avoid
> traffic jams.
There is never a traffic jam in the Mongolian steppe, in the Taklamakan desert, or in the Amazonian forest ....
> I can walk the street without being in a mass of people. I don't have to spend hours or
> even days cramped up in a car or plane.
You get more space in a train than in a plane. And the reward of the discovery makes you forget about the time spent in a plane economy seat.
> While I might enjoy the vacation trip, I am always happy to return home and to recover.
> All of these things are true (for me) while traveling in U.S. They would be even
> greater factors if I traveled abroad.
Yes, but, you'd discover new people, places, etc....
> I don't relish a 9+ hour plane trip to go to Europe -- longer if I go to Asia, Africa
> or Australia.
Nobody is happy to stay hours in a plane.
> There is the expense of travel, plus lodging, food, etc. . . with the US dollar fallen > against other currencies, the expense is even greater than staying here in US.
See before. Traveling for cheap is just a metter of motivation.
> Then, there is the language/customs barriers.
Well, many people in the world speak English. Or they will do their best to understand you if you speak slowly and ar-ti-cu-la-te.
> And yes, there is the concern that someone in those countries resents that I am an
> American in their midst and would give me a hard time.
We already exchanged about this. The world is not as anti-American as yo think..... Any news from Jo on this point?
> So, I salute my son and other "world travelers." But, it is a low priority to me to
> travel abroad, at least for now
I do my best to change your priority ranking
> (If I was traveling on business, with an expense account, reservations and itinerary,
> that would be different!)
Yes. Of course. But you'd have a distorted view of the world.