Why All The Travel Lists?

LACMA Los Angeles, CA
LACMA Los Angeles, CA

Ok. It seems like travel advice via list is all the rage, or better, is what is driving the traffic. Hey, I like lists. They are succinct (something I struggle with). They say things like, 1. “If you do not want to get sunburned, apply sunscreen.” Easy. I was intrigued, compelled, and mostly, I could follow along. Yet, as I searched, I was also blasted with such an avalanche of numbered travel lists, I short-circuited.

“It is almost like they snowball together and cancel each other out.” I told Dave. He seemed intrigued. I continued, “With one click, I saw the seven ways I could pack myself for a beach getaway, the eleven ways I can pack my entire family (their clothes, not them) using only one carryon bag, five different ways to pack my rabbit (who has a rabbit? And who travels with their rabbit?), the nine best travel hacks for traveling your way across Europe, and the twelve best ways to see Wall Drug in a day (ok, I made that one up, and in truth, I also made up the about the rabbit). Instead of mocking, ok, after mocking (only slightly), I decided to join them and create my very own list. Not so fast. I am still putting all the numbers together. My list comes from experience and a place where we have seen the humility, awesomeness, horror and bat-shit-craziness of an unexpected traveling companion.

My Working Topic: The Top 10 Ways to Travel Together and Return As Friends
(…Or at least not kill each other along the way).

I shared my topic with Dave and as he and I broke it down, we realized (he realized way before I did) that my lists were not actually one, but two. What? He was right. We went back and forth asking each other, deciphering and distinguishing. Ultimately we came up with these lists: Compatibility Attributes (pre-travel) and Tips for Traveling With Others (Surviving on the road).

Here is an example of how broke it down. Because List One would suggest how to identify potential issues before you hit the road, a good way to identify these characteristics would be to ask yourself questions like, “are they a trip hijacking-psycho? Or are they a pouty, bitter, passive-aggressive control freak?” As such, List One would be called something like, “The Attributes to Look for in a Compatible Travel Companion,” or better, “Saving Lives: When Traveling With Others, You can Successfully Save Yourself, Your Traveling Companion and Your Trip…” I know. Way to long. I told you I struggle with succinct-ness.

Of course List Two (the Surviving-on-the-road list) would include tips for compatibly traveling with others. Here is where we think the whole idea of healthy boundaries will save a trip. So if you are crazy enough to travel with your psycho, hijacking-the-trip buddy, then List Two would help you cope. The numbered boundaries would say something like, 1. “When signs of hijacking are eminent, lock your pal in the trunk. If locking in the trunk does not work, try Benadryl (or something stronger — for both of you).” Consequently List Two, our list of travel boundaries, would show you how to make your trip survivable (even in those moment when you have lost your mind and are willing to pay full price for a plane ticket home).


Right now I am stuck. Travel tips and behaviors seem simple to distinguish. Set boundaries; always rent your own car. Leave the self-centered crazy at home. Simple. But what about the reason I started this whole post — the lists themselves? Why do people make them? I am beginning to wonder if people make lists, because it is an easy way to churn out content. That is not how I roll (or at least not how I think I roll). What I do instead is agonize over whether I am truly providing useful advice, do not finish the list at all, and then a meta post about the process of failing to come up with my very own travel list write (while simultaneously analyzing the process).

Stay tuned. Very soon I will (may) publish these Travel Tops.