A Working Theory of Travel


What makes for a great trip? A destination you’ve dreamed of? Nice scenery? Good company?

Those things certainly help but, for me, there’s more to a truly great trip.

My most satisfying travel experiences have had four dimensions:


Food and wine


Nature/physical experience

And the converse is true: the trips that have been less memorable have missed one or more of these dimensions.

Because they insulate the traveler too much, and speed through regions, I’m not generally a fan of cruises. But I did enjoy the Tauck trip from Budapest to the Black Sea. With three tour directors who were from Central Europe, they brought depth to what is primarily a cultural trip, a chance to learn about this part of the world before and after Communism. And to me that matters because, regardless of what some presidential candidates may claim, we’re connected to the rest of the planet. We need to know what happened in places like the Balkans. We need to understand the damage caused by nationalistic fervor. We need to see what intended and unintended effects our American policies have elsewhere.

But I also want to eat and drink well, and broaden my palate with food and wine from other parts of the globe. I was impressed that Tauck incorporates regional dishes and wine items into its menu. (For the less adventurous, there were plenty of options.)

As for art, Tauck incorporated music throughout the itinerary, both on and off the ship. The itinerary also included a number of walking tours; in Budapest, I clocked 5 miles between the morning and afternoon excursions. So my itches for art and exercise were scratched, though not as much as I like. But… our after-cruise trip to Alsace fleshed out our experience with more art, wine, food, and hiking in the Black Forest and Alsace.

So culture, food/wine, art and nature — all four elements — but that’s just my working theory. I’ll just have to keep investigating.

How about you? What have made your best trips great? What makes a trip truly satisfying?


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