June 28: Choose Your Own Adventure

I would venture to guess that one of the main forms of marketing that everybody from small restaurants to national tourism boards love to leverage are appearances on cable television shows.  Speaking from personal experience, seeing shows such as Diner’s, Drive-in’s & Dives, House Hunters International, Drinking Made Easy, No Reservations and Mancations make me add new places to my list of places to visit every single time I see one of the shows.

For many people, this is their primary source of research for their upcoming vacations.  Shows that focus on certain states or counties, or even dedicate entire shows to eating or drinking in specific locales are what drive vacationers to plan their trips around and to these destinations.

However, for so many of the people who will read this, including myself, one of two things happens whenever we go on vacation:

  1. We will take a vacation to a certain destination, fit everything we can into the trip and consider that location as DONE.
  2. We will visit the destination and spend the time we have dedicated to one attraction or activity, and proclaim as we leave that “I must go back” in order to experience everything else.

I cannot even begin to count the amount of places that I have visited, some as many as 5 or 6 times, and still want to revisit them, if not for the sheer purpose of experiencing even more than I already had.

What this has resulted in for me is scattered experiences for my vacations.  To propose a solution for this, I believe it is time to introduce another travel game:

Choose Your Own Adventure

Preparation

Pick your travel buddies. Watch some TV or do some online research.  All depends on the House Rules.

House Rules

You can set a pre-determined theme or pre-determined destination, complete with research, or you can decide to choose the destination and the theme when you arrive at the airport.  Any mixture of this game along with First Flight or Spin The Globe is acceptable.

The Game

Once the destination has been determined, pick your theme.  Some suggestions are:

  • Microbreweries (or just Beer)
  • Diners, Drive-ins & Dives
  • National Parks
  • Monuments
  • Casinos
  • Pubs
  • Seafood

Then your trip has an underlying theme, such as hunting down every microbrewery within a 50 mile radius, or hitting every single restaurant from a No Reservations episode or Diners Drive-Ins & Dives season.

The joy in the simplicity is that instead of doing 15 different things around a city or destination, you are completely and wholly tackling an entire category.  By the time you head for home, you can call yourself the not-so-resident experts on that category.

So….

Beer Trip Boston 2011 Anyone? Who is in?

Day 28. Way 28. Stop running around. Choose your own adventure.

Has anyone ever done a themed trip?

Our last was a “Wine Weekend” in El Dorado County, CA.

Share your stories, photos and recommendations in the comments below!

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  • I love doing themed vacations. They help me get most out of my traveling.

    Before I started picking a theme to go with my vacations I had the same feeling that you’ve had. I hadn’t seen it all, or wanted to see something else, and so on.

    A few years ago some friends of mine moved to Latvia, right on the border to Russia. They complained that noone was ever to visit them there because it was so far off. So a few friends of mine and I decided we would go for it, and as it was right on the border to Russia we decided to go to St. Petersburg, too. And as the best flight deal home was from Helsinki in Finland we saw on a map that we were covering quite an area around the Gulf of Finland (in the Baltic Sea). Before we started planning our trip we read some books and found out that the whole area is famous for its Art Nouveau Architecture. We decided that our theme for the trip was to be “Art Nouveau around the Gulf of Finland”. Though we didn’t focus entirely on the theme we always stopped when we saw another Art Nouveau building or detail anywhere. After we came home we had enough photos of Art Nouveau architecture to even make a decent photo show out of it. Whenever we think back of that trip we know that we’ve covered a whole theme, and didn’t miss out on anything. I want to go back to St. Petersburg one day, but this time I will choose something different to focus on.

  • Carlin Hush

    I love doing themed vacations. They help me get most out of my traveling.

    Before I started picking a theme to go with my vacations I had the same feeling that you’ve had. I hadn’t seen it all, or wanted to see something else, and so on.

    A few years ago some friends of mine moved to Latvia, right on the border to Russia. They complained that noone was ever to visit them there because it was so far off. So a few friends of mine and I decided we would go for it, and as it was right on the border to Russia we decided to go to St. Petersburg, too. And as the best flight deal home was from Helsinki in Finland we saw on a map that we were covering quite an area around the Gulf of Finland (in the Baltic Sea). Before we started planning our trip we read some books and found out that the whole area is famous for its Art Nouveau Architecture. We decided that our theme for the trip was to be “Art Nouveau around the Gulf of Finland”. Though we didn’t focus entirely on the theme we always stopped when we saw another Art Nouveau building or detail anywhere. After we came home we had enough photos of Art Nouveau architecture to even make a decent photo show out of it. Whenever we think back of that trip we know that we’ve covered a whole theme, and didn’t miss out on anything. I want to go back to St. Petersburg one day, but this time I will choose something different to focus on.

    • Thanks for dropping by and the comment!  Sounds like quite an amazing trip around Finland and the Baltic, but you hit the nail on the head with the theme, you have such an association with that trip and it will always be one to remember, not because you did 15 different things, but because you did so much of the same thing in different areas, you really learned about the Art Nouveau architecture throughout the region.

      Sounds awesome!

  • Do the National Parks! (There’s my plug)

    I’ve been working my way through the ones in the lower 48 since 2003 (280 of 340 completed!). I love the NPS, they do more with less funding than any of our other government institutions.

    I agree with everyone else- themed vacations rock!

    • That is awesome.  I have been to a few of the rather large ones, but there are ones like Zion and Bryce that I haven’t visited that I would love to.

      Best of luck on your travels!

  • This sounds like so much fun. As soon as I have some money in the bank i’m gonna do a low-budget version of this (first Greyhound out from the station). Thanks for the motivation!

  • These are great fun.  Before our life of nomadism, we had planned on a trip based on a movie award theme.  In one year we were going to try and hit all the film festival and awards cities (Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, Golden Globes, Oscars etc.)  It’s still a dream to attend all of these in 1 year 😉

    • That definitely sounds like a good theme. See if you guys can get on the red carpet at all of them. Just have D challenge them all to a drinking contest, apparently she will win 🙂

  • Justin, I love this idea.  I took my father to London for his 60th.  We hit 36 pubs and drank 38 pints over three days.  We seen nothing else but pubs.  We photographed every pub AND every pint, which I then created a book with.  Great times.  I”m in for most adventures that are located from Key West and south.  How about Antigua for the Classic Yacht Races?  I can get our group onto some amazing floating works of art.

    • I am all up for doing one of these in the Caribbean.

      I think that 3 day pub crawl is damn awesome and right up my alley. I had heard you reference that before, but 3 days and 36 pubs, that is impressive!