The Grand Tour? It’s not Europe anymore

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

It was a rite of passage for young and wealthy British men from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s. Having finished college, they would, accompanied by a knowledgeable chaperone, complete their education (and acquire status) on a Grand Tour of architecture, antiquities, art and music found only on the Continent.

But technology, in the form of trains and steamships, did the Grand Tour in. Once commoners (and, good heavens, women!) could, on an affordable Thomas Cook package, duplicate the experience en masse, it lost its appeal.

The upper class would find other ways to enjoy Europe, but that particular ritual faded away.

I believe we’re witnessing the renewal of the Grand Tour. It has many of the same trappings as the original: It is, for the time being, only available to the wealthy; it can be justified on the basis of personal growth; it bestows bragging rights.

I’m talking about space travel. Virgin GalacticBlue OriginSpace AdventuresAxiom Space. Space Perspective.

There are, of course, significant and important structural differences. It may last only six hours instead of six months. The experience often confines movement, rather than encourages it; and attention is focused narrowly rather than broadly.

But despite the brevity and limited experience, I’m convinced that a trip to space (or near space) is no less life-changing for the traveler than a six-month Grand Tour, and perhaps in ways the traveler never expected.

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