There are lots of reasons to make lists, but I’m going to resist the impulse to list them. Well, maybe I could just mention a couple, OK?
First, jotting down the things one needs to accomplish on a given day or week helps organize the allotted time. The second reason is that it’s just so darn satisfying to draw a line through each task when it’s completed: “snake the drains” — check!
As much as I like lists, I’m not enthusiastic about having other people make them for me. Travel magazines do that regularly, with headlines like “The Fifty Hottest New Destinations” or “Where to Go Next”. There’s a best-selling book called 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
As the title grimly states, it’s a bucket list; things to do before you kick the bucket. I’ve thumbed through my copy, and it’s pretty clear to me that I’m not going to make it. I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, but I’ve only seen, oh, maybe a quarter of the places that author Patricia Schultz thinks I need to see to make my life complete.
But I’m OK with that. I’ll probably never make it to the hot dog joint in Chicago that she raves about, but I have been to Paris. And by the way, why should a diner and the City of Light each count as one of the thousand on her list? There are at least a dozen things in Paris that I would personally rank above any ’dawg.
Maybe you wouldn’t, though. For all I know, you’d much rather have the Everything-On-It than visit the Louvre. That’s what’s tricky about these “oh, you must” lists. Everybody has different ideas of what constitutes a satisfying travel experience.
Several of us went to Colonial Williamsburg together (it’s in the book — check!) Some in our group were fascinated by the demonstrations of life in the 17th century by people in period costume: “Most of our clothing is made of wool, which is spun on wheels like this one.” On the other hand, some of us were less enthusiastic. After about forty minutes of lectures from faux colonists, one friend muttered, “I get it. Let’s go play golf.”
The truth is, he’d rather play golf than almost anything, so his wish list might be a lot different than yours. And if your idea of a dream vacation is non-stop shopping, your list would look very different than mine.
My wife has a novel approach to travel lists. Instead of a bucket list, she has compiled hers after the fact, when she’s had experiences associated with the places she’s been. For example, she noted that she ate Maine lobster in Maine, drank Scotch in Scotland, had French fries in France.
Many of her entries seem to be food-and-drink related: ate Black Forest cake in the Black Forest, had a Coors beer at Coors Field (Denver). Several are more observational: saw African violets blooming in Africa, was in St. Patrick’s Cathedral (NYC) on St. Patrick’s Day.
The thing I like about Sally’s travel list is that it emphasizes fulfillment, not falling short. She may not make it to 1,000 “must-sees”, but she’s having fun along the way. And maybe I should put Hershey, Pennsylvania, on my list so that someday it will make it onto hers.