Many times, a trip to Mars has been proposed. But, like almost all trips off-world that involve human beings, it would be insanely expensive. Doubly so, in the case of Mars, for while trips to the moon and to the asteroids involve leaving from a fairly weak gravity well, Martian gravity, while not as strong as that of Earth (it’s about 38% of Earth gravity) is still enough to cause rather a large hassle in terms of escaping from the planet. Plus, there is also the matter of location of the planets in the solar system. Earth and Mars do not have the same orbital period, and so there are times when Mars is much further away from Earth than the average. Returning from the red planet at that time would take a great deal of extra fuel. Of course, emergencies do not wait on perihelion to occur.
There is, of course, a simple solution to many of these problems. Don’t bother coming back. It saves on the mass of the spacecraft, both in reliability and fuel, leaving more space for cargo that can be used in situ, rather than expensive emergency escape vehicles that could never be used. The improved in situ resources means that the expedition can be on Mars longer, which could allow more permanent construction, or better tests, or the beginning of a commercial footprint.
And it’s not as if leaving for a new world is something unheard of in human history. Colonists have done it time after time. It’s how America became the polyglot civilization that it is today. Now, granted, immigrants knew that there was fertile land and the prospect of jobs in America, and they wouldn’t die from the atmosphere. But, America wasn’t on another planet, and that alone will count for everything with the first who go. No man nor woman has yet set foot on Mars, and the first to do so will have their name chiseled into the history books. That just might convince a few people to give it a try. Although judging by the initial surveys that have been done on the matter, there’s already somewhere between 400-1000 people who are willing to take a one way trip to Mars, just for the privilege of living out their remaining days on another planet.
The technology exists, the volunteers exist. Now it’s only a matter of waiting for someone to plan the trip.