Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Travelling from A to Z

I like to travel. In this day and age, I feel that "liking" to travel isn't as much of a surprise or even niche interest. Everyone likes to travel and thanks to the wonders of technology, many of us can do it easily. Some of us are even lucky enough to pursue our interest on a regular basis and visit locations that were once too exotic to get to.

In addition to "liking" to travel, I also like lists. I like having things in order and then checking them off. The logic can vary from list to list but as long as it's in a list and I can progress through it, I'm happy. Call it OCD but I try to put everything in my life in some sort of order. My clothes are in order by color AND sleeve length, my books are in order of genre and author last name and all of my pictures are in picture albums and in chronological order. It kills me when I find a picture from ten years ago and I have to methodically find the exact moment in the photo album catalog where it goes.

The World doesn't break down easily into lists. It's round and has ever changing borders as well as shifting political and meteorological climates. Instead of a universal list, we make our own "Must Visit" lists or "Places to see before you die" lists or sometimes just visit a location on a whim because a friend or relative lives near by. While I'm guilty of applying this logic to many of my trips, I wanted to find a more unbiased system. One that is not bound by my relationships or by popular opinion and one that is hard to refute. The fairest system I can think of is Alphabetical.

But how should I apply this? Should I pick one location in A, then one in B, etc.? After assessing various strategies, I settled on visiting locations in alphabetical order. But even then, it doesn't breakdown easily. Are Brooklyn and Bulgaria on the same list? Algeria and Alaska? Thinking of several ways to approach this, I decided to make the system even more complicated. I've broken my travel down to several types of trips based on scale. They are:
  • Statewide - In my case, Florida but formerly, Massachusetts
  • National - The 50 states
  • International - All of the countries in the world
I figured that this type of system will allow me to visit the world at a micro and macro level. In addition, these types of trips allow me to experience travel in all of its glory as well as trials and tribulations; Taking public transportation, road trips, airports, interstates, hole-in-the-wall stops, etc. It will also force me to try something new. Sure, Paris is great but I have to plan a trip to Albania. Albania! Now that's a challenge that can't be solved by 50 different travel guides at a bookstore.

With each trip, I'm hoping to learn something new about our world, about me and about all of us. Find patterns that unite us all and also understand why sometimes, we just cannot get along. I'm expecting for some of my trips to be uncomfortable, boring, uneventful and maybe even dangerous but even those experiences will push me to learn a bit more about myself and the World we live in.