16 March 2017

Reddit Travel Rants, No. 4: The Checklist Traveler

I've always found it bizarre that people use the number of countries visited to be a measure of how well-traveled one is. Granted, it is a convenient measure: even I use it. However, it also is an inaccurate measure, and somehow I cannot come up with a better measure when it comes to knowing how well-traveled one is. See, the thing is, because counting how many countries one has been to is a trigger perhaps why some travelers just plan these checklist style travel itineraries, only to say that they have been to many countries. And somehow this makes me scratch my head, wondering whether these people actually enjoy seeing places, or whether they simply enjoy the feeling of getting a stamp in one's passport.

You see people planning a 15-day trip in Europe, seeing Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. Or a 5-week trip in South America, seeing Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. I don't get it.

Granted, sometimes people have a limited amount of time off per year, and so one wants to maximize one's trip. However, this also reduces the trip to mere glimpses of the city, and the city being a stand-in for the country. Paris is not equal to France. Vienna is not equal to Austria. Berlin is not equal to Germany. I suppose this is what annoys me, especially after traveling to other places outside of these capitals, and knowing that there's a whole world waiting to be discovered just by wandering outside these capital cities.

Sure, I enjoyed Paris. But I also enjoyed my time in Normandy. I enjoyed Barcelona, yet I also enjoyed visiting Bilbao. And I definitely enjoy living in Berlin, but I also enjoyed it when I visited smaller towns outside, like Stralsund, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, or Wismar.

Sometimes, people say that they do these checklist itineraries because they want to maximize their trips. After all, if one lives in Los Angeles, and is planning a trip to Cairo, then might as well add a tag on visit to Athens, rather than buying another round trip to Athens from Los Angeles. But that reasoning doesn't make sense either, because there are so many other places worth visiting in Egypt that surely you would want to just set up another time to visit Greece.

I suppose I just have a different view of travel. For most people, traveling is something you do once in a very rare blue moon. Like something that you do once every decade. So perhaps that 15-day Europe trip would be the only trip you'll be doing to Europe in a lifetime. Or that 1-month South American backpacking trip.

I understand that different people have different travel styles, and I cannot expect everyone to prescribe to mine, but nevertheless, sometimes other people's travel styles would make your head scratch.


  1. Yeah, I hear you... I don't care about that either. I can never remember how many countries I visited for instance. What counts as "a country visited", anyway?

    1. Zhu,

      Oh I see so many debates about how to count countries, it's unbelievable. Some count border crossing checks, visas, currencies, some even count the fact that a land is detached from another land.