I’m not a fan of travel lists. The latest thing circulating through the online traveler’s world is the Travel List Challenge, which you can access here. It’s basically a new Facebook app consisting of 100 places from around the world to visit and/or experience. The app states that “we think most people will have been to fewer than 9 of these 100 places to visit before you die.” While I do admire the purpose of the Travel List Challenge (to encourage people to get out and travel), does the fact that I’ve only been to 30 places on the list mean that I’m not well traveled? Of course not. Because this place was created by a person (or a group of people) who deemed these 100 places everyone should try to see in their life. While I’ve been to some of the world’s most famous museums-the Louvre, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art-another person, someone who hates museums, may have been to none but perhaps they have visited a vast array of spectacular outdoor sights such as Ayers Rock in Australia and the Grand Canyon (two sights I may add that I’ve never been to).
When going through the list I couldn’t help but wonder about some of the selections. While some make sense from a “places to see before you die” mentality (Angkor Wat and the Eiffel Tower), I was perplexed as to why others were included. I have been to the Atlantic City Boardwalk countless times (my hometown of Philadelphia is roughly 90 minutes away) and while it certainly is extremely rich in historical significance and retains some of the grandeur from its heyday such as the Steel Pier and restaurants like Dock’s Oyster House which dates from 1897, it also has some junky and unappealing shops and businesses as well. I couldn’t help but wonder if the reason the boardwalk made it on the list was due to the immense popularity of the HBO television show Boardwalk Empire. Two other places on the list that I didn’t necessarily agree with were Times Square in New York and Puerta del Sol in Madrid, both of which I’ve been to. Times Square to me is entirely hyped up and completely overrated with overpriced hotels, stores and restaurants all geared towards the tourist. For anyone not familiar with Puerta del Sol, it’s somewhat of the Spanish version of Times Square. Madrid’s New Years Eve celebrations are held there and there is also a large number of smutty (i.e. sex related) businesses. On my first trip to Madrid I stayed in a hostal a couple of blocks away and while I found the area safe it was not glowing. Puerta del Sol was the only Madrid place to make the list and I just couldn’t believe that they picked it over other more worthy places like the Prado Museum or Retiro Park (but hey, that’s my opinion).
To me, a travel list challenge should define your personal travel tastes and preferences and should embody what you hope to visit and see and experience in your lifetime. There should never be one set list for people to go by because that is not how life works. Life, including the institution of travel, is all about you as an individual. While many travelers from around the world will share the same interests and likes, some things they may not. And it is for this reason that I believe in the personal travel list challenge, one created by just you.