Making a REALISTIC travel wishlist

A time traveling dinosaur?

A time traveling dinosaur?

Random Observation/Comment #125:  It’s hard for me to accept the fact that I can’t experience everything first-hand.  I feel horrifyingly hollow knowing this fact.  It’s not even the idea that I wouldn’t be able to experience the differences between growing up as an orphan or as a medieval lord – I realize these are impossible given my current choices and subsequent timeline.  It’s the idea that I won’t be able to live all of the branches that exist in my lifetime.  The “Me” I think of now will only see that one path in the fourth dimension, even though there could have been infinitely more in the fifth.  Let me clarify with an analogy.  If we take these experiences as the pixel count of a simple Snake game (for those in my generation, we played this in high school on our TI-86 calculators instead of actually solving derivatives and integrals), the screen resolution cannot be fathomed.  If I were a snake trying to eat the experiences within my timeline’s ability (in this case they will come up as little pixilated apples), I would need to choose which path to take.  Given my time limit, I can only travel so many pixels my entire life.  Following the game’s rules, my snake tail will grow after eating every experience, but since the size of the board is so expansive, I don’t think that “oh crap I don’t know where to go without eating my own ass” aspect of the game will be taken account.  The new twist, however, comes in the weight of the experiences or the points each apple gives (the tastiness of the apple, if you prefer, since each experience is difficult to put a value to).  My limit, then, is not the amount of apples I eat, but rather the distance I travel.  If I see that I need to sacrifice a lot of “fun” experiences to reach the one in the end, I would have probably died with a shorter snake.  It’s quite unfortunate, but who says the size of the snake counts?  Well, if the size doesn’t count, then what is the ultimate goal of the game?  To tell you the truth, the programmer of this game was cruel, and He didn’t really have an intended purpose – you’re just procrastinating so you don’t have to pay attention during Calculus class…

Continuing from my previous post, I have decided to go to Europe based on that stage in my life.  I am ever-so curious and submerging myself into a spectrum of unknown, just hoping for any response.  Europe is broad and nowhere close to a travel plan because I haven’t introduced any realistic restrictions.  The two major ones are time and money.  Although there are other concerns with intensity of activities, weather preferences, and people you know in the area, I’ll let you weigh those independently.  If you already know what you’re looking for out of your trip, it’s highly probable that you’ve considered your time and money aspect within your first narrowing down.

Let’s say you’re going to see friends in London and you have a week of travel, then you can already concentrate on London locations and nearby flights to a few days in Ireland, or something like that.  If you’re going on a tour provided by Intrepid, then you don’t even have to worry about the itinerary (except for the start and stop locations).

For those who really just have a lot of time and money, and don’t want to do the whole tour thing, I suggest traveling with a buddy and working out your preferences.  Ask your friends for suggestions and talk to elders about their backpacking experiences.  Not only will you find that old people have a lot of great advice, but you’ll also find that they love talking about their experiences – trust me, it’s endless (don’t give out your number or you’ll be on the phone with your friend’s father for hours, appeasing that grandfather-storytelling syndrome).  It’s very rare that people would just want to pick up and go without some type of restriction, and if you really don’t have a preference, then I’m sure some blog or set of pictures will strike your fancy.  If you’re having difficulty with this step, you’ll really break down and cry when you have to choose the specific cities when everything looks so appealing.

In my case, I will be attending study abroad program centered in Germany, so I already knew I would be Europe (in retrospect, sorry if the last entry was a bit of a sham).  I also knew that I would be starting in March, so the winter season and heavy packing was also a bit out of my control.  The fact that the season is off-peak will also come into account when I decide where to go.

First, focus on the time restrictions and prioritize based on efficiency and personal preference.  In general, I found it too messy to think of the entire problem at once.  Before even planning the flight days, you really need a sense of which area you’d prefer and how you would get around this area.  Start by reading and looking at pictures to wherever you want to go.  I conducted this research phase very methodically by consolidating everything I read online into a 30 page word document.  I copied and pasted Seasonal Attractions and made sure I knew the weather for the countries ahead of time – it would suck to go to London during its rainy/bad weather season (which is pretty much, always).

After considering the climate, I read a lot of tour travel itineraries.  It wouldn’t be too difficult to just download an itinerary and follow the main attractions at each stop.  You’ll have to work out booking the hotel and planning the leaving times for the train or airplane, but you’ll be in control of where you go and what you do.  Most of the time, for the extra money, booking the tour would save a lot of headache.  Plus, if you’re traveling alone, a tour is a great place to meet new people and concentrate on relaxing while going to these exotic places.  I’ve tried the tour life and it’s, for the lack of a better description at the moment, really nice.

After looking at a few tour itineraries, you’ll see a lot of repeats.  Everybody wants to visit those main places to see those cliché things.  Obviously, they’re awesome and a must-see for a reason, but the problem I’ve always had with tours is that “rushed” feeling.  Six cities in two weeks is not enough time for the full experience – actually, one city in 30 years isn’t enough time.  There are so many underground treasures and hidden beauties that escape those camera lenses.  For this reason, I’ve decided not to deprive myself of these experiences that would have been so much more heart-felt if I just spent that extra time digging deeper.  It’s like not scratching that scratch ’n’ sniff sticker long enough to get through the first layer for the full aroma – all you get is that metallic disgustingness, if you’re not patient.

I expect a much more thorough life-changing moment if I take my time in every city.  I’ve so often mistaken my purpose of traveling – it’s not a checklist, it’s a road strewn with stores on either side for miles.  Why would you want to take a shortcut when every section of road has its set of unique experiences?  You’ll probably read this type of response in many of the tour reactions – “I wish we spent more time in <insert city of preference here>.”  That’s because tours can’t cater to your personality.  If you spend the extra time planning, maybe you won’t need to sit through an architecture exhibit if you prefer nature.  That is, if you dislike uncomfortable situations.  Knowing me, I would probably heat the coals for the brander.

~See Lemons Plan the EuroTrip