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There are more places to see than there are opportunities to visit these destinations.  You need to be selective about your choice of destinations in order to maximize your satisfaction during travel. 

In the accompanying article, we probe the world tourism scene, and make some recommendations on focusing your resources on the "best of the best".   


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Travel Advice - Be selective about your travel destinations

The limited amount of time we spend on vacations is one of the paradoxes of life. Most of us have vacation time available but never seem to be able spend it in the way we desire. For many of us, taking a quality vacation is a rarity, seemingly an extravagance. How many people do you know who say “No, we did not really take a vacation this year, just a few nice weekends here and there”?

The paucity of quality vacation time is something that everyone should commit to changing: however, until then, it is up to you to make your vacation a quality experience. Memorable vacation experiences depend on you making good choices about where to go and what to do when you get there.


Some vacations are designed as “getaways”, a time to rest and relax. These vacations can be successful in many locations, as long as they offer the type of rest and recreation you desire (lazing around the pool, golfing etc.). Other types of vacations, designed to let you and your kids spend time together, involve visiting theme parks, shopping, hiking, camping, and a variety of activities that are usually geographically concentrated (e.g. in Orlando, Florida). Both of the previous two vacation types are easy to plan but may be difficult to budget.

At one time or another, however, most of us wake up and want to visit some world renowned destination involving that exotic term, “foreign” travel. Trips involving overseas destinations require you to do a little homework to make sure that you see the “best of the best”.

  • To be honest, there are hundreds of exceptional places around the  world and clearly more places to see than most of us will have the opportunity to visit.
  • Some destinations, however, are not particularly safe places to travel right now (e.g. locations in the Middle East and Africa).
  • Even so, we are left with many exceptional places to visit.

Of course, and this will not make us popular, there are an enormous number of places to visit that are not exceptional, interesting, or worthy of a visit.

It is interesting to consider that over half of the tourism in the world is accounted for by visitors to just 15 countries (see table 1.).  In addition, almost half of the world's tourism revenues are accounted for by tourism in  Europe, which explains why we focus on Europe in the Destination Guides section of ThereArePlaces.

Table 1.  World's most visited countries

1. France 6.   United Kingdom 11. Germany
2. Spain 7.   Russian Federation 12. Hungary
3. U.S. 8.   Mexico 13. Poland
4. Italy 9.   Canada 14. Hong Kong
5. China 10. Austria 15. Greece

Source: World Tourism Organization

Consider that the U.S. is the third most popular tourist destination on the list. We all know that the U.S. has some terrific National Parks, some great seashores, a few great cities, and an enormous number of places that you would never visit unless you were on business or just passing through. In essence, in the U.S. there are more places to avoid, than to visit while on vacation.

  • It’s the same all around the world. In order to avoid the “ordinary places”, you need to learn to look for the “best of the best”.

If you like visiting cities, consider the following example. While population is not a profoundly useful measure of significance to the traveler, it is a useful comparison to emphasize a point. In a world with a population of 7 billion people, it may come as a surprise that there are roughly only 150 places worldwide with populations larger than two million inhabitants.

  •  In the US, there are only 23 “urban areas” with populations of over two million inhabitants.
    • Since larger population implies more buying power than less populated areas, there are usually more amenities and cultural attractions in more highly populated places.
    • Can you name twenty-three cities in the US that are so special that you would like visit them on your vacation? We suspect not.
  • Well, the same is true around the world. There are many cities to visit but not many of them are “world beaters”.

Some countries have abundant, beautiful scenery. Others have cultures that are attractive and invigorating. When you think about vacations you need to realize that there a few great places and a lot of stinkers. The only way you can avoid the stinkers is to do the research and find out if the places that you are considering offer what you want to experience on your vacation.

When you plan your travel, try to focus on the “best of the best”.

  • Get a couple of high quality guidebooks that reflect your travel values.
  • Compare the places they suggest you visit.
  • If it is your first visit, try to narrow your potential destinations to those that are “world class”.
    • Research what you can see and do at these destinations.

Through your research, you will find that there are destinations that are so unique, wonderful, and historical that they are worth a trip just to see that place.

  • Other destinations might be worth a detour only if you are in the area but are certainly not the “the best of the best”.
  • Finally, there are places that just do not require visiting.

In other words, when planning your travel be disciplined in selecting destinations.

  • If a destination is not one of the  best, do not bother pursuing it unless you have seen the best and are looking for something new.
  • If that cruise you are considering stops in minor ports that have no significant attractions, find another cruise.
  • If the tour you are considering stops in places not mentioned in any guidebook as being worthy of a visit, it is probably not the tour for you.

See the “best of the best” first. See the “rest of the best” later.

If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.
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