"The journey is the destination," says the car commercial voice-over.

The journey is the destination? That doesn't make sense.

Unless it's metaphorical, as in, "Our cars are so darned luxurious, you'll think you're already at the hotel enjoying the king-size Magic Fingers vibrating bed and eating chocolate-covered strawberries." My experience has been somewhat different. When I was a kid, we'd travel to Chicago to see my relatives.

It's true that sometimes we flew — in a propeller plane made of balsa wood and Elmer's glue, with a pilot in goggles and a leather cap (and no complimentary peanuts). But more often, it was a road trip: my father at the wheel, mom riding shotgun, and my sister and I bouncing up and down on the back seat repeatedly asking, "Are we there yet?" in high-pitched little-girl voices that probably contributed to the hearing loss in my father's left ear.


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"No, we're not there yet," Dad would say — through gritted teeth — "I'll tell you when we're there. Simmer down, and stop waving at that car behind us. The guy's riding my bumper and waving at me now … with one finger."

I've concluded that a journey cannot, by definition, be the destination. It can, however, be a dreadful detour through the lowest circle of Hell.

Case in point: It's a 24-hour trip, give or take, from here to Japan. That doesn't include time spent driving to the airport in traffic and trying to park, missing your flight, standing in line for another ticket or schlepping two miles through the airport dragging a carry-on the size of a baby hippo.

It also doesn't include taking off your shoes at the security check point, and getting patted down and X-rayed by an agent who graduated from an eight-hour course on how to shoot radiation through your body, or running the risk of being "randomly" selected for a cavity search that stops just short of a colonoscopy.

Once on the plane, you cram your carry-on beneath the seat or stuff it into the overhead compartment with the broken latch. (It will fall on you.) You're wedged between a guy the size of a defensive lineman eating an ottoman-sized Cinnabon; and a woman with a large floppy hat wearing too much perfume ... and you're allergic.

Then there's the baby two rows back. As the plane reaches cruising altitude, the cabin pressure causes the eustachian tubes in her tiny little ears to explode, giving her the worst earache in the history of modern medicine and causing her to scream all the way to Tokyo.

After three hours on the runway — during which time the lavatories are declared official bio-hazards — the plane taxis back to the terminal because some genius brought a baggy of baby powder onboard.

Finally arriving at your destination, you rent a subcompact car and drive to the hotel ... then decide that instead of using your round-trip ticket, you'll swim home.

Considering the state of travel these days, maybe a more accurate ad slogan for that car company might be: "We'll get you there in one piece with only a small probability of engine malfunction. Godspeed."

Because if the journey is the destination, you need to choose another place to vacation.

Email Cathy Drinkwater Better at cbetter@juno.com.