Poll: What counts as having traveled somewhere?
Originally published at https://www.roadgoat.com/blog/poll-what-counts-as-having-visited-somewhere.
What exactly counts as having been somewhere?
As you map out your travels on RoadGoat , you may find yourself asking a common question: What exactly counts as having been somewhere?
We all have that one friend who boasts about having been everywhere, yet when you ask specifics before one of your own vacations, you slowly discover that, actually, it’s more like she was asleep in the passenger seat for that part of the trip. So much for getting a good restaurant recommendation!
If that doesn’t count, though, what does? What personal boundaries do we set before telling someone we’ve been somewhere without feeling the need to attach a bunch of asterisks at the end?
Let’s not waste our time on the obvious. If you’ve lived in a community, vacationed somewhere for a week, or given birth at a place (hospital or otherwise,) I think we can all agree that you’ve most definitely “been there.” What we’re really trying to do is hash out the more debatable scenarios.
Airport layovers are always questionable — assuming you never leave the terminal, half the time you’d be hard-pressed to figure out what city you’re in were in if not for the branded merchandise in the gift shops. Plus, if you’re unlucky enough to have to interact with someone in an airport, chances are he wouldn’t even be a local.
Driving poses another set of considerations. Some might say they’ve been to a city if they’ve driven through it, but how much are you really taking in? Perhaps there’s a distinction to be made between a leisurely drive through rural roads and a journey on the highway. Then again, if zipping through on a highway doesn’t count,has anyone ever really been to New Jersey?
For some, getting out of your vehicle and physically putting your feet on the ground is when you can say you’ve been somewhere — and if you’re Christopher Columbus, say you’ve discovered it, no less! That said, it’s not like stopping for gas offers a unique cultural experience. Neither does a restroom pit stop, but I suppose in that case you are at least leaving a part of yourself behind!
That’s probably why many tie the experience of a visit with some sort of sightseeing event or activity. If you’ve visited a museum, hiked a trail, or took a selfie beside the world’s largest barbershop pole, (I thought I was making something outrageous up only to discover it does exist), then you’ve experienced something concrete that place has to offer.
Others consider eating a mealto be a determining factor since at least you’re getting a literal taste of something local. However, even then there have to be exceptions — fast food really shouldn’t count, unless maybe you ordered some seaweed dish only available in certain McDonald’s in Asia.
Arguably, the activity doesn’t have to be unique to the site so long as there’s a memory attached. I mean, it only makes sense to count that rundown exit you stopped at on the way home from Vegas so that Greg could call and “explain” to his girlfriend the Instagram photos he was tagged in. You’ll be telling that story for years and pointing out that spot on subsequent road trips.
No Exceptions — It All Counts
Or maybe you’ve read through all this and decided any excuse to say you’ve been somewhere is fine in your book. Sure, it’s a little cheap when world travelers cross the border just long enough to get their passports stamped,but those “stamp collectors” if you will have clearly already decided it counts for them.
J. Stephen Conn embraced this philosophy in his journey to visit every county in the U.S. As he put it , even if he were only to be in a county for a brief period of time, if lightning were to suddenly strike him dead there, his obituary would say that he died in that place, “How could you die there unless you were there?” he asked.
Hard to argue with that, but please do me a favor: if I suddenly drop dead in the middle of nowhere, promise to drag my body back to somewhere cool before alerting the authorities.
And the results are in!
So there you have it. Whatever your definition is, you too can make a travel map on RoadGoat. Good luck!