Jonathan Yardley takes a look at Lawrence Osborne's The Naked Tourist: In Search of Adventure and Beauty in the Age of the Airport Mall. Osborne is another "Disney World is the end of civilization" traveler, but he's fascinated by entirely made-up environments as well. For instance, he lingers in Dubai's otherworldly airport, where the duty-free shopping includes Maseratis. Dubai is a stop on the way to his ultimate destination, Papua, which has its good points (it's pretty much the opposite of Disney World) and its drawbacks (cannibals). Before you can say "neo-colonial tourist," though, Osborne recognizes how unreal Papua is in Western eyes, describing it as "the far side of the looking glass, a parallel world about which Indonesians and Westerners could make only fraudulent images."
After recently returning from Italy and also contemplating issues of authenticity in travel, I found Osborne's description of the process of travel perfectly captures its insidious, and entirely necessary, effect on you:
A journey is never a simple thing. The hitches and the boredom, the missed connections and the empty hours are the price that must be paid for leaving one's real life and entering an unreal one. On the other hand, this temporary unreal life has its advantages. You have nothing to think about except the logistics of the journey itself, in all their maddening detail and stupidity. With time even these details take on a poetic urgency. How far is it to the bridge? Is the car waiting on the far side of said bridge? It is only when you are thoroughly submerged in such questions that you begin to become unconscious.