17 June 2016

Lightning Itineraries and the Checklist

Recently, I have come across folks whose travel styles puzzle me. Mostly it has something to do with their itineraries, where I think it definitely doesn't make sense.

So, for example, my sister's partner's family visited Europe recently. In a short span of time, they went to Munich, then to Austria, then to Switzerland, and then to Barcelona, then to Toulouse, and from there they go home. Another example is a traveler in Couchsurfing, who posted his itinerary for a month-long visit to Europe, where he would visit Berlin, then Warsaw, then Krakow, then Bratislava, then Vienna, then Budapest, then Prague, then Dresden. Sometimes, I see these itineraries and they just make me scratch my head.

Yes, these travelers are flying inter-continental in order to visit Europe. One is coming from India and the other from Brazil. Maybe the distance they travel plays a role here, as they think this would be the one and only time they would be visiting Europe, and so they want to see as much as they can in a short time span. Nevertheless I think it's not the most practical way of seeing the place.

Just take Berlin to Warsaw for example. There are so many things to see in between, yet most of these checklist travelers just skip it. There's Poznan, there's Torun, there's so many other smaller places that I think are interesting too, yet all of these are just ignored because people just hit the big cities. Heck, if I were traveling for a month in Europe, I would probably need one month for just one country the size of Germany or France!

Yes, I am told that there are plenty of different travel styles, and I admit that my style isn't the only one out there. So I guess this makes me wonder, what do these lightning checklist travelers get out of it? Is it bragging rights, saying that you've been to 10 countries, when in fact, you only spent 11 days? Does that mean you're traveling not for yourself, but for others?

Or maybe I feel this way, because I have seen quite a bit of the world already. I've moved on to the places that aren't considered Beginner anymore. Going to London, Paris, and New York don't excite me anymore the way going to Isfahan, Ushuaia, and Luang Prabang does. I have to admit, I am planning an adventure for later this year, and the route I find attractive is such because it is off the beaten path.

I wonder why that is the case, why travelers tend to have this idea that it is ideal to get off the beaten path. Is it inherently the case that we are elitist, that we want to say that we are better travelers than the next person? Or maybe because some of us want travel to be an out-of-comfort-zone experience, and it just happens that most of Europe at least for me is within my comfort zone? Maybe this is the reason why I have been going to not-so-common European countries lately. Who knows.

In any case, every time I hear these lightning checklist itineraries, I cannot help but shake my head. If they asked me, I would gladly plan an alternative and more enjoyable trip, with less travel, and more time to see things.


  1. Meh... I sometime think other travelers' itineraries are weird, but there is often an explanation for them. They each have their own logic. Remember, I explained you ours last winter in South America? It felt all over the place, but we were dodging bad weather and enjoying cheap flights, made sense to us.

    1. Unknown (Zhu),

      Very true, of course I agree. There are often personal constraints and preferences that I do not know, making some of these itineraries sensible to others but not to me. I guess what I am saying is that broadly speaking, I am now more a fan of slower travel than before. Big cities with very known sights aren't the only one that attract me.