Squeezing the fun out of the magic of travel

Az and I spent last night talking about what makes an experience good or bad when traveling.  Typical to my need to systematize even the unsystematizable, I came up with a little matrix kind of thing by which we can grade a place.  Or a scoresheet.  Checklist?  No, scoresheet works.  That´s most accurate.

When we´re in a new place, there are 4 factors that contribute to the quality of the experience: A) Housing.  B) Transport.  C) The City/Town/Place. D) The Geography/Environment.

Within each there are several variables:

HOUSING
1. Security (10 possible points) – Is it private, is it well locked, do we feel safe leaving our things out, does anyone else (a cleaning person) come in?
2. Stability (5) – Are we there for a month or for 2 nights, will we have to change rooms, do we get to know the city well?
3. Comfort (5) – Clean, sleepable?
4. Location (5) – In the suburbs/country/city?  Is there a grocery store close by?
5. Amenities (5) – Is there a kitchen, a pool, a view?
6. Price (5)
7. Bonus (-10 to +10) – Is it a chateau, a log cabin, a sailboat, does it have a view of the neighbors changing or a mango tree?

TRANSPORT
1. What kind of mobility do you have? (20) – Motorscooter (16-20), Car (12-15), Bike (10-15), Location doesnt need self-transport (10-15), Good local transportation (8-15), Bad local transportation (1-8) (hi, Seattle! 1), No local transportation (0)

PLACE
1. Cultural Authenticity (20) – Unique & beautiful archetecture, locally-made goods & art, minimal restaurant franchises?
2. Central Interesting Activity (15) – Is there something you could do over and over again, day after day?  Is the city explorable?  Is there a beach culture?  Is it a chateau?
 Is there a dope swimming pool?  Can you learn something there like tango or French or yoga?
3. Price (10)
4. Is it intellectually challenging? (10)
5. Bonus (-10 to +10) – Is the food good (+20 if it´s Italy), is it a spiritual center, is it your ethnic homeland, are the people especially beautiful, etc

ENVIRONMENT
1. Does it have significant natural borders? – Ocean/lake/river (5-15), Mountains (5-10), Nothing (0-4)
2. Is the climate right for the trip? (10) – Is it hot at the beach and cold for skiing?
3. Is it beautiful or ugly? (10) (hi, Seattle!  10) – Trees & hills? Other beauty?
4. Bonus (-10 to +10) –  Is it windy? An island?

Anyway, when we broke it down like this we could see why we feel ambivalent about Mendoza: It´s a beautiful city in an environment without natural borders.  It has interesting activities and local art in a beautiful main plaza, but it´s tough to get there from our housing in the suburbs.  In other words, we love the city but we aren´t as self-sufficient as we´d like to be.  Travel is about finding the combination that makes the experience totally wonderful.  For those 1 or 2 times per trip when everything comes together it becomes the experience of a lifetime that makes you dream of traveling again (as happened in Thailand and Barcelona for the two of us, itt came together for me in Portugal, it happened for Azure in the chateau… among many other places).

What else should be added to this?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Squeezing the fun out of the magic of travel

  1. Anne Heartsong

    The people! You’ve got to add “the people” to your scoresheet!!

  2. Miss Smiley

    agreed…more about the people. That should be one of the headings because there are so many variables that could be discussed!! 🙂

  3. Laura

    seriously mike, for someone who loves “gossip” so much, you’d think there’d be more mention of people than 1) janitors and 2) their aesthetics. Get to the juicy meat of the matter! 🙂

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