Confessions of a List Ticker
I talk a lot about slow travel these days. It’s a major part of our Beyond Vacation lifestyle. I want to dig into the culture a little more, I want to see the local side of things, and I don’t want to feel like I’m in a race when I travel. Travel isn’t about ticking items off a list. But I have a confession to make: I’m totally a list ticker.
The travel game
Counting up different places that fit onto arbitrary lists makes a little game out of travel. All 7 continents before I turned 30? Check. Ongoing count of the number of countries I’ve visited? Check. Racking up gold medal winners from the Hillman Wonders list my friend Amanda found several years ago? Check. Smallest countries in Europe? Hmm…working on it.
I can’t help it, it’s just fun to me. I have gotten better about it over the years though, and I don’t wouldn’t plan a trip to a destination I have absolutely no desire to see. But there is an entertaining novelty to visiting a tiny country like Andorra or Liechtenstein. They were both beautiful countries with warm, friendly people, and even though they aren’t high on my list for a return trip, I did enjoy the short time I spent in each place.
My list ticking past
It often happened in the planning process. I started off with the intention of going to one or two places, and suddenly the trip morphed into something much bigger. A friend of mine was getting married in Malta (her husband is from there) in 2009, and while researching flights, I decided I didn’t want to go all the way to Europe and only go to Malta. I eventually decided on Dubrovnik, Croatia, which involved flying from Malta to Bari, Italy and boarding an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik. I spent about 4 days in Malta and one full day in Dubrovnik before I had to fly back to Atlanta. I know, crazy.
In early 2010 I had a trip planned to Hong Kong and Australia. I was months away from my 30th birthday, and my final two continents were Asia and Australia/Oceania. Again while researching flights to get between Hong Kong and Australia, things got a little out of control. I discovered how much cheaper it would be to connect through either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore rather than book a non-stop flight. The temptation to visit these cities instead of just switching planes was too much. And I couldn’t even make myself pick one.
Suddenly my itinerary had me in Hong Kong for 3 days, followed by a ferry to Macau (it’s so close!) where I barely even had time to see a temple before heading to the airport. Then I flew to Kuala Lumpur for one night simply to see the Petronas Towers. The next day I flew to Singapore for one night where I had a meltdown, not only because it’s an extremely hot place, but because I was burnt out from the fast pace already. The second half of my trip was in Australia where I spent 2 nights in Perth, one night at Ayers Rock, 3 nights in Cairns and 3 nights in Sydney. I’m amazed I survived.
My list ticking prospects for the future
Because I do find a little list ticking fun now and then, I don’t see this part of my travel style going away. When Andy and I found out the TBU blogging conference would be in Rotterdam, Netherlands and we decided to go to Belgium afterwards, I had to add a couple days in Luxembourg. It’s right there, and I’ve never been! When we decided to spend some time in Andy’s favorite Italian city of Bologna, I told him I wanted to squeeze in a day trip to the tiny country of San Marino. And I will continue to update my list of countries I’ve visited on my Where I’ve Been page.
Despite all of this, I fully intend to embrace slow travel and to encourage you to do the same. Slowing down and really taking the time to get to know a place is how you fully appreciate where you are. I will drag Andy on my list ticking runs when it’s not hugely out of the way, but it will not overwhelm our travels. I’m looking forward to checking off 3 new countries (#40 Luxembourg, #41 Netherlands and #42 San Marino) on our upcoming trip, but counting countries is not a top priority in any way. It’s just a silly game, and perhaps my dirty little secret.
You might also enjoy:
- On Living a Non-Traditional Life
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Europe for Two Months
- Scenes From a Russia River Cruise: Part 1
April 15, 2013 @ 4:32 PM
If I had longer vacations I would SO embrace slow travel!!!!!
April 15, 2013 @ 10:44 PM
Maybe someday you’ll have longer vacations!
April 15, 2013 @ 5:19 PM
My list is so long I don’t even pay attention to it anymore, haha
April 15, 2013 @ 10:44 PM
That’s how I am about my imaginary list of places I want to visit, but I guess within that I end up with mini lists. I’m getting better about it though!
April 15, 2013 @ 5:22 PM
I tend to find myself visiting things that are “the most” something. Like the most southern point of a place. Or the most Eastern. Or the highest. Or the lowest. Or.. well.. I’m sure you get my point 😉
April 15, 2013 @ 10:46 PM
Yeah, I have some of those too. Ushuaia, southernmost city in the world comes to mind.
April 30, 2013 @ 8:05 PM
Have you been to Minnesota to see the biggest hockey stick? Seriously, it is several stories tall.
April 16, 2013 @ 8:08 PM
I’m a list ticker too. I made a goal to visit my 50th country this year, which means I need to add 8 new countries if I am to reach that goal. Though I enjoy fast spaced travel, but not necessarily only a few hours in a country or city.
April 17, 2013 @ 10:44 AM
Several years back I decided I’d like to get at least one new country per year. I’ve managed to surpass that each year since making that goal, which is fun. This next trip will get me to 43, and then who knows what else is in store for the rest of the year, but I certainly won’t make it to 50! Good luck!
April 20, 2013 @ 1:09 PM
I’m an inveterate list-maker also, so I can appreciate this. Most of the people I’ve traveled with seem to like it though, because it means that the bulk of the planning will be done by List Guy and they don’t have to worry about all that much. 🙂
Great picture of Tian Tan, by the way. Did you take the cable car up, or a bus?
April 20, 2013 @ 5:32 PM
Thanks Steven! Nice to meet another list maker! I end up doing a lot of the planning when my husband and I travel too. As much as I like being spontaneous, I like planning and organizing too. I took the cable car up, and the views were really nice, although smoggy.
Jade Johnston - OurOyster.com
April 25, 2013 @ 8:07 AM
I am sort of like that as well, but I always budget a large enough amount of time so I am not rushing around.
April 25, 2013 @ 10:13 AM
I’m trying to do that too. If I’m going to stop somewhere to check it off a list, if possible I am trying to spend enough time to not feel like I speed through.