Limiting Travel For The Sake Of Maximizing It

I wouldn’t classify myself as a ‘travel blogger’. I really have little interest in being one.

By that I mean I simply do not want to travel to places for 1 week stays in hotels, get city tours, massages, dinners, and take pictures and videos of myself doing it… even if companies pay me to do so.

In fact, shocking as it may sound, I really don’t even like the act of traveling… Security checks, planes, buses, long lines, taxis, hostels / hotels– yeah, just not for me.

For example, just the other day I was traveling between a couple of countries. I took a grand total of 2 planes… Guess how many times I had my ID checked?

Seventeen times.

I counted.

Plus, I had my bag checked or scanned 5 times, and I myself was scanned, felt up, or interrogated another 5 times.

All of this was so that I could sit still in a small chair for 7 hours of my day and pay $10 for a salad… Who in their right mind enjoys this type of thing?

Oh yeah, and I didn’t have wifi.

Consequently, as part of my New Year’s resolutions for this year, I committed to not spend more than 21 days traveling this year. And for me, a full day traveling means spending of over 7 hours in total transit. I simply don’t want to spend too many days of my life riding or waiting for transportation.

And I am happy to report I most likely will achieve that goal.

The purpose of such a resolution, of course, was not to limit the good things that travel can bring, but rather to limit the undesirable parts of it. I am getting to the point where I want to travel to a new place, figure out if I want to stay, and then STAY. There is so much more to places than a quick skim of the touristy parts.

The other day, for example, I read some travel blogger bios on twitter and they said things like “lover of hostels and old cathedrals.” Really?

Really? You love hostels? How many hostels have you stayed in?

Really? You love cathedrals? How many cathedrals and old churches have you been in?

I can’t help but thinking some travelers through South America may actually get sick of seeing another cathedral and another hostel that look exactly the same as the previous ones.

I swear I’ve seen this church in at least 5 cities.

I am not saying that either of these things are bad, as there are certainly some beautiful cathedrals in the world, as well as some great experiences in hostels to be had…. I am saying that so many people paint them with a romantic brush that quickly fades after a bit of exposure.

At least this is the case for me.

From a purely practical point of view, I wish had more money so that I wouldn’t have to stay in a hostel ever again… or at least in a hostel dorm again…

Can anyone say they really prefer a sweaty mess of unkempt backpackers over their own private quarters with a queen-sized, pillow-top mattress and a window looking out on the city?

On top of these practical considerations, how long does it take to really get to know a place? 1 week? A month? A few years?

I recently read somewhere that a certain seasoned traveler was not going to consider that he ‘knew’ a place unless he stayed there for a minimum of 12 months. I think this is more towards the way I am thinking… there’s just so many layers to really knowing a place and knowing it’s people, it’s not really accessible to the casual or continual traveler.

There’s knowledge and experience only available to the committed expat… a person who will stay in a place for a long enough time to maximize his knowledge of it. It’s not really available to the one who jets off after hitting up a few of the popular cafes, restaurants, and night clubs.

That’s why I am now in favor of limiting my travel for the sake of maximizing it. On top of the undesirable features of travel like being interrogated, patted-down, cramped for space, and jet-lagged, there’s just the considerations that a short time in a place does not seem to be the best investment.

Besides, some places get better and better as your knowledge of them grows– you begin to reap the fruits of your time investment on the ground… perhaps in the form of favorite spots, increased connections, and better friends…

Why would you uproot a fruit-bearing tree?

  • I recently thought to myself “Travel is flicking through the channels but never really watching anything”.
    I must say, as an Australian I’m still blown away by the many options Cable has to offer (As recently as a few years ago Aussies only had 4 free-to-air channels). I’m always flicking through channels even when I’ve settled on a show. If I have the option to I’ll keep browsing. I guess its the same for some travelers.

    • Interesting quote… Yea, I’m sort of wondering the same thing as to why I would keep flicking when I’ve found something I really enjoy.

  • Pacorro

    After travelling for some time, you realize that all the places are quite similar. I enjoy having a more profound connection with people, making friends, etc… than just the mere acquaintances that you make when travelling and this requires to stay for some time in one place.

    • I disagree with your statement about traveling. I don’t think all places are similar, even if you have traveled for a prolonged period of time. I think the act of traveling could become similar and that might lead to boredom. I have often found some of my strongest connections to be with strangers that I’ve met on some of my travels.