08 September 2011

Lists: The Travel Blogger's Obsession

The other day, I was checking out my Twitter feed, and somehow I noticed the fact that travel bloggers seem to have a rather strong affinity to creating lists. You know, Top 5 best places to check out in Argentina, Top 10 mountains to scale, Top 3 buildings to jump from, Top 10 activities in Nepal, and so forth. There's also the memes that usually circulate in the travel blogger community. A few examples of these was the not-so-recent 7 posts of various qualities.

So here I thought, is it really that important to create lists?

But first, let me tell you how I read blogs, and travel blogs in general.

If you look at the right-hand side of my blog, there are several blogs that are listed there. Some are personal blogs, some are travel blogs. I think those blogs are interesting enough for me to list them and in essence endorse them for reading. That's one way I read blogs.

There's also a bigger set of blogs in which I read through an RSS feed via Google Reader. The blogs whose links show up in my blog are also here, as it's more convenient to read blogs through a feed than by checking their websites every single day. The ones I don't religiously read are only read if the feed catches my attention and I decide to concentrate and read further.

Finally, there's the Twitter feed, where I have feeds from a bunch of other blogs and personalities. Sometimes, the travel blogs just tweet a blog article they wrote, whether it's recently or not so recently. I tried doing that to my posts too, in the past, I used to be more diligent in trying to promote my blog articles, especially the ones that had something to do with travel. But later on, I only relied on the automatic feed distributors, as I didn't see any benefit in the added work. After all, my blog isn't a dedicated travel blog; it's a melange of all sorts of things.

Now, sometimes, when I go to Twitter, I see these headers. Top 10 here, top 5 there. Really, why do people need to count and rank everything they see?

Perhaps that is what I do not get. I do not get the importance of ranking places. Can't we just write about a place we have been without putting a value judgment to them? If a mountain was an awesome trek, why not just write that, instead of making it so commercialized that the personality of the traveler/writer gets lost in ether? I get the feeling that these lists of Top 10 this and that are so impersonal, that sometimes, I get discouraged from reading them.

I read travel blogs to travel vicariously. As much as I want to be on the road often, I have other obligations. Lists and recommendations might be useful for planning purposes, but for some people, planning is not the only reason why they read travel blogs.

(The Ceiling, from my Machu Picchu Series)


  1. The Internet in general likes lists, it's easy to read and they are always well-received.

    Or maybe travelers like to be organized...after all, traveling starts with packing and for that you make a list!

  2. "OMG China is so big, I don't know what to do!"
    "Relax, here is a list of top 5 geographic attractions, and here's a list of top 5 historical sites..."

    Lists annoy me, because they are merely a prioritisation and listing of someone's preferences. It is also based on the premise that people are dumb and need to be told what to do. You'll notice that most religious text dispense lists.. 10 commandments, 5 prayers a day or 3 fasts a year and what not.

  3. Zhu,

    I suppose. I get the idea that since the Internet is very big, then one way to organize this massive collection of information is to list them. But perhaps, as Puku mentioned, lists are just someone else's lists. One has to make it their own.

  4. Puku,

    Perhaps that's the same sentiment I have, annoyance. I just see all these people pushing so many lists down my throat that it somehow suggests my inability to plan my own trip and find what I enjoy in these foreign destinations. A trip is after all, a personal one. If I visit China, I would have my own set of things I enjoy, and perhaps I don't need other people's lists.