Like, really knowing your destination

Zen moment.

Zen moment.

Random Observation/Comment #135: This has nothing to do with the entry’s topic; hence, random.  I have been listening to a few Terry Pratchett audio books read by Nigel Planar (thick British accent with a perfect aural rendition of the character Death).  Recently, I’ve put on this soothing reading before I sleep, but I always pass out before the chapter finishes – these books have been taking forever to finish.  Anyway, I’ve noticed that the British narrative I hear while I’m falling in and out of consciousness has given me the most bizarre dreams.  The best dreams I’ve had so far is with “Interesting Times” as a part of the Wizard series in the Discworld book set.  At some point towards the end, there’s an epic battle between 8 old barbarians and a million soldiers.  I’m never really sure what happens, but my dreams play it out with a lot of violence and hilarity.

 I started my research about two months ago, but it seems I keep finding better searches in Google, travbuddy , tripwolf, Yahoo!Travel,, random travel blogs, and other sites to help me create an optimal itinerary.  I started by just Google-ing “Things to do in <city>,” “<city> suggested itineraries,” or “<city> attractions.”  The top results helped me find the main websites represented by the government or tour-businesses in these major cities (i.e., [dot]gov or [dot]info sites).  For the most part, the descriptions were all very factual, but the purpose of the websites was all to pull the user into paying for the tour.

What I wanted was a resource to get some general background information, so travelwiki provided a nice guideline covering “How to get there,” “Things to see,” “Things to do,” “Local transportation,” “Places to eat,” “Sleep,” and a few other major topics.  This a great start, but doesn’t necessarily help map your locations.  Looking through all of these major sites, you will be able to filter the “Must-sees” in the area, but what’s important is how your day unfolds to include all of these “Must-sees” efficiently.  To help me understand some very nicely written user reviews and blogs, I looked to Yahoo!Travel.  This site basically created a database of major sight-seeing attractions combined with a map and an easy-to-use travel blog.  The purpose of your blog could be to write detailed accounts of your travel days, or to simply just pick the places you’ve visited that day as a reminder of your location.

What I applaud about this site is the main connection between the place you’re researching and the existing blogs that include these places.  This means that when I search for main attractions of a city, I will see a list of most popular viewed blogs that include this person’s full itinerary and recollections of their trips.  Some people may use this to vicariously live their lives through people’s memories, but I’ve found it a great resource to search for a plausible solution for the Traveling Salesman problem.  I’m sure Frommer’s guide has a great set of optimized itineraries, but you can’t just suggest one itinerary for all the different types of people in the world.  My taste may very well fit a fellow users’ writing styles and passions in modern art, so if they ‘highly recommend’ specific stops, I will include these into my itinerary.

It’s interesting how I’ve performed the same information gathering technique when engaging in conversations with adults that have traveled in Europe or around the world.  I speak to them about random topics that I enjoy, and then weigh their responses to suggested destinations based on our matching tastes.  If we have interests in the same things, I would most probably like what they liked to see.  I guess if I say, “I’ll add that to my itinerary,” I’m assuming we have similar interests.  I feel like Frommer lacks in this department, although it’s not their fault because they can’t possibly write all of the itineraries for every location and type of person in this world.

It’s true that my method of research will take a bulk of your time because I tried every single technique possible to absorb information about the world.  I chose to obsess over people’s pictures and read countless blogs just emphasizing their reflections of each sight.  So does this work for me?  I honestly feel like I’ve spent a very large amount of time reading and not enough time sitting down and planning where I will stay, how I will arrive to the first stop, where I will walk, what I will see along the way, what I can eat (local specialties), and how much money I will spend.  If I were to do this all over again from the beginning, I would probably focus on these main issues because no matter how much you read, there will always be places that just don’t live up to your expectations.

At the end of the day, I think the most efficient way for a photographer who enjoys nature and a few museums to plan their trip are to use one of the traveling social networks I listed in the beginning, and review your location’s pictures.  Sometimes you’ll pass by a photo that just makes you say, “Wow, I’m definitely going there.”  In retrospect, the trip will be worth it if you have a handful of those moments when you think, “Wow, I’m so glad I’m here.”

~See Lemons Research Endlessly