Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
It’s not about how many countries you have been to (travelmap.net)
128 points by clementmas 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments



Where I live (dublin) there's a persistent tourist subculture that photgraphs doors of georgian buildings. I've met several tourists with irish surnames who set out to visit every pub that has their name (hard work if you're a murphy, kavanagh, ryan...). I met a chinese-australian couple doing an "ancestry trail" visitng the ancestral villages of their in-law.

That kind of stuff is ultimately just a frame. A way of exploring, selecting destinations, and allowing the unexpected to happen. The premise itself isn't the point. The premise is a way of facilitating harder to target stuff: meeting people, exploring.

I've heard similar criticisms of photo-takers. They're more concerned with photos than experiences.

These criticisms and accusations of shallowness are shallow themselves, and uncharitable. Collecting countries, places, pubs, doors or whatnot is just a way of deciding what to do next, and allowing experiences to happen themselves.


Yeah, just let people enjoy whatever frame they enjoy.

I (used to) do urban exploration when traveling, especially in frozen conflict areas, unrecognized states and similar, so I do tons of photography of stuff most people isn't interested in, can't comprehend, and potentially illegally.

You talk to locals, do homestays, and hike? Cool, I do that too, but my goals are my goals, yours are yours. I move quick and fast because the spots I'm interested in are far in between and will require time and study to explore safely, evade surveillance and the like.

One of my coolest trips I only knew long after the fact. I travelled to Abkhazia, a breakaway state from Georgia. There was a war between them in the early 90s and there were plenty of things to have a look at for me.

Among them, I visited an abandoned beach resort hotel in Sukhumi. I have plenty of pictures and footage from inside. As I usually do, I collected some kind of souvenir, in this case, a check-in form, because yeah, back in the day they were on paper. From that document, I got to know that it was called Hotel Tbilisi, a very bad name for the Georgia-hating Abkhazia, so it doesn't even appear on Google with that name (or any name, for that matter).

Fast forward a few years, and my wife starts explaining my weird travel kink to my mother-in-law (they're Ukrainian). So I start showing some pictures, and bam, full front picture of the hotel. She was like "that's in Sukhumi, right?". Yeah, right. It happened that my in-laws had their honeymoon in exactly that hotel, before the war and the collapse of the Soviet Union; she recognized the interiors, the check-in form, the surroundings. It was a sad, happy, and powerful moment that made us feel closer.


Pictures and more info please :)


Don't have access to the pictures (I'm at work), but I have a video[0] I recorded on my way out (missing the rooftop, unfortunately).

The biggest trouble I had in Abkhazia was regarding the visa. You first have to obtain an entry permit, and with it collect the visa at the Ministry of Interior (IIRC) up to 2 days after entry. Mine was a 3 day visa. The problem was that I arrived on Saturday, and it was closed, Sunday, closed, and Monday that I wanted to leave it was some national holiday as well. So I had no way to collect the visa, nor the visa would be valid if I stayed until Tuesday. So on my way out they didn't want me to leave.

Fortunately one of the soldiers was understanding and let me through, but only after about 4 hours of questioning and inspection of my stuff.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSi88CLRuZE (around 6:30 for the moment I collect the check in form)

Edit: found a picture [1] of the border checkpoint. This is illegal, they spotted me and made me delete the picture. I kept that SD card aside the rest of the trip so I could recover the deleted files. They reason there are horse cars is because no motor vehicles are allowed to cross in/out except for certain people. Enjoy!

[1] https://i.imgur.com/7uWzera.jpg


Super interesting - thank you! Also quite brave.


> That kind of stuff is ultimately just a frame. A way of exploring, selecting destinations, and allowing the unexpected to happen. The premise itself isn't the point.

Exactly. I'm doing an A-to-Z of half-/full- marathons. It started as an idea stolen from another runner: a challenge to see how quickly I could cram them in. But as I started searching for options (and going through those already on my "I'd like to do that one or visit there some day" list) it has morphed from 26 UK road halfs in two years or less, to a much wider spread over several years, still many road runs but a number of beautiful looking trail adventures too, taking the time to visit places and at least superficially explore them, seeing things I wouldn't normally see, taking regular proper breaks from my normal daily grind.

If anyone else has a problem with this, it is their problem. It is going to be rather good for my enjoyment of the next few years and I might make some memories that will last much longer than that, and it all started from that somewhat arbitrary initial goal.


> A-to-Z of half-/full- marathons [...] a challenge to see how quickly I could cram them in.

Isn't this really bad for your health? I thought you needed a significant rest period between marathons to give you time to recover?

(Please don't interpret this as 'a problem with' what you're doing - it sounds fun and a great way to see the countryside, I just hope it's not damaging you!)


If you throw yourself at it without any prep it won't be good for you.

But a proper marathon training plan at my sort of level includes a long run between 13 and 20 miles most weeks. My full recovery time after hammering for a PB at half distance is over a week but going even a little easier brings that down considerably. So a half every ~three weeks, with a couple of longer breaks here or there, should be perfectly fine. I'm not particularly planning to gun for a PB on any of these.

Doing a full is a different beast requiring more R&R afterwards, even if taking it easy, as is a fairly technical trail run, and if I'm travelling further to a new place I want time to see some of that place beyond running through part of it, hence the plan is now "several years" to spread the annual leave & travel costs out a bit more, and to allow more time for R&R and reconditioning as needed.

This way some of the more local road halfs fold nicely into a conditioning (or condition maintaining) plan for the longer/harder runs too. The longer time also helps with arranging the runs: due to the way the organised events tend to bunch around spring & autumn that becomes a constraint if you want to do it in a short time (not being able to do that particular B because it is too close to the C & D I've already set sights on, etc.)


Depends on who you are and how much you run. If you're running 50 miles a week, a slow marathon here and there would probably not hurt you too much. I know a guy who used to run a marathon every weekend through the whole season, but I think he ran way more than 50 a week.


Perfect example.


Ditto re: doors :) I’m renovating a Victorian house (Dublin centre) and it took us a good few weeks to pick a front door and its colour so it blends in the neighbourhood. I was surprised to find out there isn’t a single book on that.


Hello neighbor.


I collect bars. Restaurants too, to some degree but mostly I care about bars that can make a mean classic cocktail such as a perfect rye manhattan. I appreciate that people frame their experiences however they wish, but having said that I'm also deeply uncomfortable with being an unwilling extra in people's photos, and flash photography is the worst. I don't care that you really want to take a picture of this amazing drink you just ordered, or whatever, but what happened to showing some respect to people around you? Flashing lights is a harsh yank out of the escapist experience a bar is designed to provide, and it upsets me more than perhaps it should. I also don't want to be in your pictures, and find it rude that I must make an effort to get out of the shot, rather than you making an effort be more respectful.

("You" not referring to you of course, but an imaginary person.)

Some places I've gone have asked people kindly to at least turn off the flash, and asked repeat offenders to leave. I wish more would do so. More than that I wish people would learn some common decency.


Completely agree.

I regulary post on a forum about urban architecture. There's a section with people posting photos from their walks through their city. Basically google street view with some text commentary in an old-style phpbb forum format.

It's probably very boring for outsiders, but I enjoy it a lot and I started doing such a thread myself several years ago. It's a good excuse to go outside, you visit parts of your city you otherwise wouldn't, learn about its history and architecture in general, and you look at places you visit daily from a different perspective (looking for a good shot makes you notice stuff you normally ignore).

But for people on the street I'm that weird guy that stops to make a photo of an ugly house every 10 meters instead of enjoying the city :)


For me, geocaching is what gets me out and helps me discover interesting places. I finally hid my first caches last year and it's a pleasure to read a log of someone having discovered a neat little spot they would never have bumped into otherwise. There are players who've found multiple caches per day average all year round.


>...hard work if you're a murphy, kavanagh, ryan...

Might I interest them in some grossly unfair life insurance? :)


Relevant xkcd https://xkcd.com/1314/


I very much agree with the article, but "... instead, talk about your most memorable experience, how that one time you had this deep connection with this person in at meditation camp in Southeast Asia because you speak their language, or the quiet moment, the intense gratitude you had after a long day of cycling, after setting up camp, and looking at the beautiful sunset in the offing." makes me think of this pic: http://atimetoheal.london/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Cmon-In...

Next it'll be the trend to collect "Deep moments". I guess some influencers do it on Instagram already, copy-paste a "deep" thought onto their vacation pic so the IG scrollers can fool themselves into thinking they're being deep.


It makes me think of this British sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKFjWR7X5dU (it's also poking fun at a posh accent, with the pronunciation of year and Tanzania).


Thanks for the link - I loved its accuracy and humour :) In many ways, I think it's possible to apply some of the good answers here to any "how many X have you been to" question.


neural networks <= linear algebra [1]

deep learning <= linear algebra with some elementary graph theory

[1] Neural networks is included in linear algebra.

Now, none of us need ever to use the word "deep" again, unless we want to download a 1998 movie.


What does this have to do with the parent comment? That is, besides the word "deep" which gets used in an entirely different context.


The word "deep" is being used in social contexts more often after the advent of "deep learning".

Deep travelling is also nonsense, this kind of modern travel is largely just status fencing by upper middle class people who can't gain status through thoughts or substantive actions. Which is all fine, where it gets disgusting is tendency to somehow conflate it with virtue. "He's a really interesting person he spent 2 years in Holland". "Everyone should travel.. if you don't it betrays some closed mindedness".


That definitely happens, but there's a lot to be gained of visiting places for some time (couple of months).

For one thing, you can copy local businesses and spread awareness in your country for something that the markets didn't even know was missing. I've seen this happen first hand!

But in general, you learn a lot. You learn how much society really shapes an individual. It's different when you experience that first hand, rather than reading a Wikipedia article about a certain culture, or tradition, or something like that.


I disagree with this comment. I'm way down from middle class and I just got back from a very long trip in a developing country. The experience has changed me from head to toes in ways I wouldn't have conceived. I am so happy that I had was able to change who I was and to deviate from the life that I would have lived if I hadn't gone.

Not everyone who travels does it for "status" (in fact I would say that people who do that are a vocal minority)


I did the same thing — I had $5k to my name and quit my job and traveled through Central America for 3 months. A completely life changing experience, and I met my eventual wife who was taking Spanish classes down there and happened to live near my home town.

I don’t think anybody stays at $5 a night hostels in Guatemala for status.


I agree with this. I lived abroad (several abroads) for years at a time, but you don't need however many thousand miles to go meet a new society that has unique rules and different values than yours, just go spend a month at your parent's retirement home and don't be obnoxious to the locals. (Or move to the "bad" neighborhood, take a job as a teacher or police officer in the remote countryside, etc). Middle-class people exist in what is largely a pocket of society that they mistakenly think is how their country is because all the media is about them.


It's a shame that any travel experiences you may have had have given you that impression. My (relatively limited) experience of travel is that it has genuinely opened my eyes to the fact that the vast majority of the world lives a very different life to my own, and those differences are something I have enjoyed learning about. Reading a magazine or seeing it on television doesn't give you the same impact.

Not everybody wants to learn about such things. That's fine, but don't hate on the people who do.

> status fencing by upper middle class people who can't gain status through thoughts or substantive actions

You deserve a bit of a flame for one of the most pompous and vacuous statements I've ever read on HN. What is status? What constitutes substantive? I'll bet my definitions are different to yours!


You've taken my comment about the status we give to travelling, and assumed that it's down to some personal problem with travelling. I love travelling, but still find the status we give it disgusting and can recognize privilege laundering. It doesn't really matter what we think is a substantive action, there's no reasonable definition that includes travelling for the sake of it.


living abroad and traveling are quite different things. I agree that traveling, also "deep traveling", is mostly bullshit. It's tourism, it's consumption.

But living abroad, and especially learning another language and another culture, is something that is really illuminating on so many ways... and you don't have to be rich for that. In fact, most of poor immigrants do just that. The rich one, they call themselves expats.


I read "deep traveling" as "living abroad" - mainly because that's what I have done for a large part of my adult life. Though in the context of this article it is just trying to differentiate their service.


I'm not saying travelling is terrible, or teaches you nothing I'm saying that if someone goes to a foreign country for a long time and it's not as a byproduct (as in they have a career NOT related to travelling, picking a career specifically to travel doesn't count) of their work, then what it statistically indicates about them is that (privilege + propensity to try and socially signal) is greater than some number, but a lot of people seem to take it purely as "virtue".


As someone who went backpacking for three months when I was recently bankrupt and only had a few thousand dollars I had saved over three years because I was afraid to spend money on anything but food, I can assure you that it does not require any particular economic privilege, only a severe case of not giving a fuck about your future.

It worked out for me because I met my wife who was also traveling and came back and lucked into a good job, but that was by no means guaranteed when I left.

Of all the people I met at hostels in guatemala, there was only one that I would say was really privileged, and a lot of people who simply prioritized travel over everything else in their lives.


again, I won't conflate the two. traveling is way of more ephemeral than living abroad.

but then of course, there are people that are living abroad and it's like they are at home, like British pensioners in Spain. And it's also fine, I guess...


Whilst I agree with the underlying premise, there's a touch of what the kids are calling "privilege" these days in the blog post that's entirely unrealistic for the predominance of the world:

"It is way better to spend 1 month working and living in Ethiopia than 1 month visiting all the famous attractions of the African continent."

It purely depends on a few suppositions automatically being "true" for everyone:

1. People have a enough capital for such ventures.

2. People have employers who will "allow" this.

3. If not via employ, then they have enough vacation per year to do ventures like that.

For expounding on point 3, take our American counterparts, whom only get something like two weeks off a year. They would have to either consume their sick leave (assuming that they even have it) to make the full month or just have the crap-shoot of the two weeks.

If that's all that you get, would you rather take a chance that you'll be miserable for two weeks or would you do what all of the other cool kids are doing and just hit the main attractions because, then, at least you're doing something and you're not sandboxing yourself into possibly being miserable for the only time that you do get off for the year?

Whilst the article seems to have the best intentions at heart, its perspective seems pretty myopic, when you take into consideration the grand stage of the world and the arresting details those other cultures might include - which is what I assume the intended audience of the blog is (e.g.: the world).


> If that's all that you get, would you rather take a chance that you'll be miserable for two weeks or would you do what all of the other cool kids are doing and just hit the main attractions because, then, at least you're doing something and you're not sandboxing yourself into possibly being miserable for the only time that you do get off for the year?

Your comment made me wonder about the artificiality of tourist destinations/activities, because when we just have a week to experience a culture, we'd probably seek the condensed version that we think will give us an understanding of said culture (I'd compare it to reading a book's plot on Wikipedia vs. reading the book). One can go to Bali and visit a traditional dance show. Is it authentic, or just something performed for the tourists? It's like hiring a prostitute and confusing that with a relationship. To answer my own question: at least the bigger/village-wide ceremonies are being done by people who really are doing something due to their traditions, not for the show: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/indonesia/articles/tradition...

I guess in the end tourism and "deep travel" as written in the article are both just a search for novelty experiences. Sure millions have been to Bali, and looked at the same temple at the same time of day (sunset); but it would be novelty to me, compared to my office job. Less people from the West have spent time living in Ethiopia and that too would be a novelty experience (meanwhile the Ethiopians are wondering what the hell the white man is raving about).

Talking about the your novelty Bali experience with others who've had the same experience (novelty to each, but cookie cutter for all) does make for dull conversation.

Meanwhile there are also people who don't even get to experience something new, because they're busy being documentary photo-/videographers for their little corner of social media where they're a star.


Certainly it's a privilege.

But I'd say if you HAVE that privilege and squander it, it's a massive waste.

Some people seem to be showing the sentiment "people who are worse off are unable to travel, hence there can be no value or meaning in travel", and that doesn't compute to me.


People playing cultural bingo is nothing new, but at least gives people some sense of progress and accomplishment, which is probably the priority of those people.

Personally, having travelled a bit, think that travelling is not about moving. If you actually want to understand anything about anything, you need to stand still for a while, and then go away and come back. It's hard to reconcile this with being a (passport) stamp collector.


This is so true. I spent 3 years travelling through Europe in a converted military truck. I would say that of the 24 countries we have "been to", we have only truly known 2 or 3 (and of those, I was born in one, and now live in another). That is despite having spent months in many places, city and countryside alike. How anyone could ever consider "doing europe" in anything less than a lifetime is beyond me. City-hopping, and going to the typical instagram pictures to take more of the same is not travelling, IMHO.


I'd say there is a false notion that having been somewhere means you know it. I've been to France but I don't know it. During that week-long trip, I spent all my time in Paris but I don't know it. Even the places I've been to in Paris (like the Louvre or the ET), I don't actually know well.


Eh, I don't even really know my hometown.


Id HIGHLY recommend getting to know your hometown. It is life changing.


What does 'know' even mean in this context?


Well here's an anecdote; I went abroad and at one place was enthralled by the coffee they served. Astounded, I bought some beans and felt quite happy of the "treasure" we had found. Later back at home, I went to a local coffee shop to buy some beans. Turns out there's a local coffee place that makes their own coffee, actually just a kilometer away where I lived. After trying out their coffee, the coffee I had brought abroad just seemed bland.

There's so many things you don't discover just because you aren't "looking". When going abroad you're actively seeking out great experiences and places. In your home town you're probably satisfied with sitting on computer and watching Netflix.


Yes, that makes sense. It's good to have guests over, they help a lot with this.


for your hometown - being "knowledgeable" of the geography, the history, the people, the culture, and the economy.


If you can manage it, I really recommend visiting places in the off-season. You’ll get an entirely different perspective of the place, especially if it’s a touristy one. E.g. Dubrovnik in August is a humid, crowded nightmare. In February it’s an empty seaside village.


This is great advice. For example, Venice in March is amazingly beautiful and you can visit all the touristic locations without queuing for half a day.


But if you don't want big crowds be sure to skip Carnival, which can happen in March (earlier this week.)


I agree. Recently I was asked for the best time to visit Lombok. I said in 1979 , I had the whole beach in Kuta for me alone for a week. Ok, discounting the family of rats in the hut I rented, but they were friendly, too.


Yeah I did some back packing, south east asia tours and all that and honestly I didn't like it that much overall. You are whisked from one place to the next, 6am starts and getting drunk is the norm every night. My favorite part was just hanging out in Hanoi for a day or two without much of a plan.

I met people doing months of this stuff back to back around the world. I wished I had just spent the whole time in New Zealand in a couple of nice places. It would have been more relaxing and more up my street.


You're basically agreeing with the article: the moments where you just had to move where uninteresting, and you'd rather stay a day or two or much more in a place, surrounding yourself with the local atmosphere, right?


Was that a guided backpacking tour? Why would you get up at 6am (unless you like that)? Wait, how much planning beforehand went into that if you changed location that fast? I have so many questions.


The early starts were either to get to the next place or cram many sightseeing things into one day.

The tours were organised by a company.


Mhm, I figured. My travelling is usually more like the hanging-out-somewhere kind.

If you have a return ticket to a place, your visa and safety information (eg what not do to in order not to die) in place (and are not trying to go someplace small in peak season!) that's usually all you need. A guidebook is nice-to-have too, because there is a map and information about the country and language.

Sometimes you get stranded somewhere for longer than you'd like, sometimes you cannot find food (arriving too late or not in shop distance), you might miss some sights.. but that's fine.


Spot on article. I always preferred spending more than couple of days at a place (say, couple of months, if possible), just to see how it really is. Try to be one of them (locals) during the months you are there.

Also, walk. Walk in random directions, without a plan. See what's really going on!

In my opinion, there's no other way of truly experiencing another culture. Taking a picture in tourist-packed place is surely not the way to experience anything.

I realize that's difficult to spend a month in another country due to other obligations (kids, work, etc.) - not sure how are we going to solve that, ever (or even if it needs "solving" at all). That's just how society is structured, for now.


I find 100% vacation leaves me wanting to work after a week or two, and 100% work leaves me wanting travel after a few months.

I think it would be ideal to work a flexible job where it's possible to live and work remotely for several months at a time, while discovering that place slowly. In this way you get more of the day-to-day life experience, and you are able to "absorb" the place/culture at your own pace, getting to know it beyond a superficial level. Basically, you just try to live a "normal" life there, albeit with more frequent evenings out, weekend trips, etc.

This is of course, part of the appeal of digital nomadism, but I consider that to be a much more extreme version of what I mean.


> This is of course, part of the appeal of digital nomadism, but I consider that to be a much more extreme version of what I mean.

in what regard?


I'd say do both... in New Zealand we have the idea of an "OE" (Overseas Experience... and every other country is overseas for NZ). The OE often goes through asia and ends with working in England (often London) for a few years and doing excursions into Europe. Some of that can be soulless, you never really experience a place and its people. So you definitely do want to slow down and take your time with some things. But some stuff, you've read the history, the stories of a place and you really just want to go to the place and just "touch" it to feel connected to that piece of history.


Just... let people enjoy things their own way. I like taking photos of architecture and I don't like talking to people or immersing myself into culture (I rarely even eat local food because of my diet).

Tourism is a form of entertainment. It doesn't need to be "deep".


This hits home. Truly understanding a country is one thing and visiting somewhere for a few days is totally different. You don't get to experience countries inner values in a few days nor its problems.


I see where the author is coming from, but I have the exact opposite experience.

Me: I'm travelling to x

Chap: for how long?

Me: 3 days

Chap: Only 3 days?? You need at least 1 week!

If it is 1 week you need 2, if it's 2 you need one month.

I get the benefits of slow and deep travel, but I don't have the money and time to spend weeks in every single location I'm going. I also feel like there is a diminishing return on how much time you spend on each place.

So for the last few years I have been doing this 'speed travelling', and although it might look like checkbox ticking, I feel I'm getting a wider range of (albeit shallower) experiences.

So it might be the case that the dial has moved way too far into the fast travel and it needs a correction, but with the experiences that I am gathering now I'll be able to travel deep and slow to my favourite places later in life.


> It is way better to spend 1 month working and living in Ethiopia than 1 month visiting all the famous attractions of the African continent

Is it though? I have lived on a bunch of different continents, traveled both fast and slow, and this kind of weird elitism about getting a “true cultural experience” is way overdone.

You want a true cultural experience? Catch a local tropical disease. Pay a bribe. Get in a road traffic accident. There’s nothing special about getting bitten by a dog in the Caribbean as opposed to Bali. People are about the same everywhere.


Every time I've traveled somewhere, I've deliberately kept the plans extremely vague. My biggest priority is to sample the local culture primarily through food and drink, and to avoid the stereotypical tourist traps.

So far, this approach has been a resounding success. I just don't get the people who need to plan out their vacations in every detail. To me, the entire purpose is to relax and let life unfold on its own, away from the routine of everyday life.


That does not work too well in peak season, I found, and have to remember to keep in mind.


Yes, absolutely. We don't have kids, so we tend to not travel in the peak season, and we avoid the most popular destinations in any case.


Often the most popular destinations are popular for a reason.


I've found that my tastes usually don't line up with mainstream popularity. This tends to be very convenient. Just let me walk around some interesting architecture and find some interesting restaurants, I don't really care if it's popular or not.


Sounds to me like keeping up with the Jones' but in a different way. "Oh you've been to 20 counties? Well I've done one, but covered it 20 times deeper" Does any of it really matter? You experience life for you, not anyone else, if you get more out of speed running every country you can than spending a year in Provence- then that is the way to go.

Both are good, both are bad, both are nothing to keep score over.


The advice here boils down to: don't just vacation, quit your job and take up a freelance/remote worker lifestyle for an unknown period of time.


> Rue Cremieux, a trending attraction in Paris

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47482034 - the other side of the same coin. "Paris street to shut out Instagrammers".


The same thing is happening in Notting Hill atm.

Trying to stop it just feels futile, why not let people have fun taking some pictures? It'll be over in a while anyways.


I agree with the article, and I will also say if you're looking for a truly special experience, make the effort and go places on the planet where tourists simply don't venture.

In West Africa I repeatedly had people say "What means Tourist" and often people would want to touch me because they had never seen a white person.

I took a stupidly small route from Nigeria into Cameroon, and the Immigration guy that I eventually tracked down was more than a little shocked to see me. In three years working there, he had never seen a single foreigner.

When you spend time with people like that, it is a genuine experience, and sitting on floors to share communal food or being hosted in people's houses is something I will never forget as long as I live.


Please don't take this the wrong way, but white people love telling these stories (I'm white, american, middle class). I had the exact same reaction towards me in very rural India. I would love telling the story of me being the only white guy around for miles and probably years. For some reason we get a sense of pride telling others we have been to places nobody else like us have been to.


I'm British, and my birthplace has a moderately well-known football team.

I read up on their latest games before travelling, so I can discuss it with anyone who might ask or otherwise find out where I'm from. I think it makes me a bit less generic than the last 20 tourists who passed through that year, as they know something about me.

I doubt I've ever been the "first white person" to anyone, but several times I've been with children who probably haven't had a chance to stare before — e.g. a long bus journey.


> I agree with the article, and I will also say if you're looking for a truly special experience, make the effort and go places on the planet where tourists simply don't venture.

I agree, but you don't even have to go where no tourists venture. Just go where less venture. And, if you are American go to where less Americans go.

SEA is packed with Americans now because it's the current trendy place. Eastern Europe outside of the big spots like Prague are still pretty wide open though. Going in the winter also limits the number of other tourist (we went to Budapest in the winter once, enjoyed the hot springs nearly alone one evening and then went ice skating - quite fun).


This summer I was in Wales with a Dutch car. One day we parked the car on the side of a road and went for a hike. When we turned back to the car we could easily see the car from up high.

And the weird thing was, there was a van parked right next to it. There was no reason for it to be parked there; there was plenty of space; why park very close to my car? I assumed something was wrong.

When we returned to the car it turned out that the driver of the van was just curious what foreigners would show up.

Living in a city that is packed with tourists, it would never occur to me that someone would just wait next to a foreign car to see who shows up.


> I took a stupidly small route from Nigeria into Cameroon

When was this? I was invited to a wedding in rural Nigeria a few years ago, but considering the security situation it seemed crazy to contemplate going.


Early 2017. Southern Nigieria is mostly "OK", but Northern Nigeria is off-limits, as far as I know.


Something I can relate to, having "done" 85 countries myself (yes, I'm one of those 'shallow' travelers who counts countries).

This article is right in some ways. It's right in that deep travel experiences are almost always more memorable than shallow ones; that traveling by hitchhike will get you more face time with locals than traveling by rent-a-car. If you travel to truly understand a place, you need to spend real time there (I define 'real time' as at least 2-3 weeks, which is an eternity in travel world, since you really fully immerse yourself in the place during that time).

But it's wrong to try to define a right way to travel, as if there is some authentic travel nirvana that all travelers could or should reach.

First of all, it depends on what kind of traveler you are, and why you travel. If you travel to learn about as many places as possible, because you crave exposure to new experiences and cultures, and you know that every time you go someplace new you learn something new that you never would have known if you hadn't gone, travel has to be somewhat of a quantity game--unless you are a full-time traveller and have the luxury (or the tolerance for nomadship) to live on the road.

But most of all, there really is no 'wrong' way to travel.

There will always be people who criticize Club Med-goers and cruise-takers for only dabbling in 'tourist traps', glampers for not doing 'real' camping, backpackers for living like 'hippies' without jobs and 'vacationing' in other peoples' poverty, hostel-stayers for hanging out too much with other tourists, expats for isolating themselves from the countries they live in, students abroad for not making friends with locals, homestayers for not learning the language, peace corps volunteers for being neocolonial, missionary trips for dressing a vacation as charity...at the end of the day, every traveler is trying to explore their horizons at their comfort level, and no one who travels is truly ever "authentic" in their experience, no matter how many chickens they pluck themselves or squat toilets they use.

All travelers are just visitors, and before long they will leave, and everyone who knows them on their journey knows that their stay is temporary, whether it is 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years. The best you can do is learn as much as you can in the time you have, be open minded, and take your lessons with you when you go home, or to the next place.

Unless you're moving to a place permanently, starting a family and plan to die there, you're a transient, and you have no right to criticize how other people choose to be transients in their own way. Every traveler is better off for the experience and the world is better off for the cultural exchange and greater global understanding facilitated by travelers.


Came here to post a much less eloquent version of the same thing. Any proclamation that one way of travelling is objectively better or more worthy (of... what?) than another leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I've visited between 61 and 66 countries depending on how you want to measure it, and frankly I don't believe this to say anything deep or shallow about me - it's just a number, a score in the game I've chosen to play given the privilege to do so.

From the article:

> Yes, you have been to 30 countries in 5 years, but have you really “been” there? How many places do you really know and understand?

Perhaps my purpose or desire isn't to "really know and understand"? Some of us like to dip our toe in, or just take an experiential snapshot. And on the flip side, I don't consider anyone who stays in London for 6 months or even 6 years to "really know and understand" the place. I've lived here for my entire 45 years and wouldn't make the claim for myself, such are the new things I keep discovering on a monthly basis.

> I do not intend to criticize entirely the people for traveling this way. Society does sometimes pressure us to spend holidays abroad to look and sound more “well-cultivated”

I have felt absolutely no societal pressure to travel, only self-imposed. I absolutely do not feel, look, sound, or claim to be "well-cultivated". I've just visited lots of places, that's all. Travel for me doesn't have to be, and in the main is not, intrinsically profound or romantic - but it's fun, and collecting countries on lightning trips makes me extraordinarily happy, and that's my primary objective. Perhaps there's some profundity in that?


I did come here to post a much less eloquent version of what you both did say. For me the problem is someone telling me how I should experience something. I travel and experience countries and cultures the way I do it, bringing with me who I am and my whole past.

Some times I plan a lot about where to go and what to do and other times I travel to a place and then find what is to do and see there, or even walk around to see if I find something interesting. I like to do it my way, but someone telling me that I need to do it this or that way will not make my experience any better.

I like reading about others experiences, but even if I did travel to the same place, did the same things, and talked with the same persons as I was reading about, it would not be the same experience because with me is I, not that person that had the other experience.


> Any proclamation that one way of travelling is objectively better or more worthy (of... what?) than another leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

In terms of resource usage, people should travel a lot less to save the planet. Which may not be as big a limitation as most people think.


Very well said.


The main reason I don't like urban travel is it takes so long to get to know a place. Having been abroad to study and work on a few occasions, that experience of actually becoming part of the city is so powerful that just visiting one seems unfulfilling. Also, urban environments are pretty stressful at the best of times IMO, and spending a week in a city just means I never get comfortable.

Now, nature travel... I loved touring the western USA. The country is just designed for road trips. What little interaction you do need to have with the local culture is made tremendously easy by how standardized the service sector seems to be. Too bad flying is so damaging to the environment, I'd love to go again.


Mhm, we really have to work on sustainable air travel. Transport in general, actually.


I'm in agreement, and many people just throw the "quantity over quality" perception towards everything in life. It is as superficial a way to experience the world as it is anything else you do with your time.


We wrote this article for our blog but here is our website if you want to check out our app: http://travelmap.net


Hi Clement,

I work in the tourism industry. What's your pitch ? What's the difference between you and Cirkwi ? Can you connect to feeds from Apidae and others (well known formats and custom ones) ? Are your approaching institutional tourism information offices ?


The site is by default in French and if I try to switch to English on iPhone (which requires scrolling to the very bottom) the button can’t be pressed


It depends on why you're traveling. I you're traveling to impress your peer groups, that's fine. Nothing wrong with a little peacocking. Building your networks? OK, sure. Just want to do something to enjoy yourself? Rock on. Just be honest with yourself about what the purpose of your travel is, and make sure it actually serves you. Beyond that, anything anyone has to say about how YOU travel is nothing more than advice.


Ha, I love these discussions about what is a "good" way of travelling. In the end it's all about your personal values; if you prefer to be one with the nature you'll be labeled as a "deep traveler", if you are playing the social game you'll be labeled as a "shallow traveller", or you can do both and get a label accordingly. Long story short, the way you travel is proxy for who you are.


How does the saying go, it's about the journey not the destination? Have a destination in mind, but don't get completely caught up focusing on getting there. Head off the beaten track whenever something catches your eye or ears.


Nice. This blog post delivers the message that everybody should open an account there because even the one trip you made is worth putting it on. You don't have to be part of the traveling elite to be on travelmap.net.


Good recommendation for getting to know a foreign country is to marry a guy/girl from there and move there.

I can guarantee you will really get to know the place and the culture very well, perhaps even too much


Do we really need to police how the young and affluent are talking about their gap years?


Interesting opinion but if someone wants to travel this way, so be it. Reminds me of this: https://xkcd.com/1314/

Maybe someone has a more relevant one.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: