10 cities in 15 days. Why? What should we call it?

There are several current threads in which people want to "visit" a lot of cities in a few days. Why?

I used to be that people who traveled carried their things in trunks, upon which they affixed decals of all the places to which they had been, so they could show others how "well traveled" they were. Is that what these people want, to brag to others about how many places they have been in? Of course, they weren't there long enough to really see the city, or to know anything about it, but THEY WERE THERE!

In terms of personal enrichment, I think it is necessary to stay in one place long enough to understand it.

When my wife was in college, she took a "birdseye" tour of Europe, the classic "if this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium" tour. She saw a different capital city every day, and took a picture of the hippies around the fountain in the town square. When she got home, she could not identify the location of any picture.

So, what should we call these people or what do we call their method of travel? Madness? "Decal collectors" is kind of obscure. Someone once said this is "Blink and run" tourism. I call this "quantity, not quality". Or maybe we should call it a "Vanity trip", because they don't care anything about where they were, they just want to be able to say they were there.

Posted by Liz
Seattle, WA
1311 posts

The vast majority of those who ask about schedules like this I would call "overly optimistic", "unrealistic", or "uninformed".

I think first we must draw a distinction between those who simply don't realize how long it takes to get from place to place or how much there is to see. I can think of lots of cities you can "see" in one day (in terms of hitting highlights/famous sights). These just aren't the big ones: London, Paris, Rome, Munich, etc. Once you start pointing out travel times, things going wrong, etc., they realize the plans are unrealistic.

There are the people who go "well, I'm paying all this money to go to Europe, so surely I can squeeze one more city in" and before they know it, they've got 10 cities in 8 days. It's also easy to fall into the "this is my only chance" mode of thinking.

Finally, although the majority of RS travelers prefer a more laidback, "sponge" approach to travel, we must remember that some people really do prefer the checklist approach. Colosseum, check. Big Ben, check. Louvre, check. This is simply another travel style that some people may enjoy ala the Disney 'theme park warriors'.

In my experience most of the people who post for advice on this board generally take the advice that these itineraries are insane and not very enjoyable, and cut back accordingly. Sometimes you just need an expert to tell you to slow down and smell the roses. Labeling the photos would also help. :-)

Posted by Jennifer
Lincoln, NE, USA
390 posts

This is a toughie. I get frustrated when trying to explain to people that they should really slow down - that we're not just trying to be mean, that it really does make Europe more enjoyable and memorable.

I too though, am guilty of the "super-fast" tour syndrome - but I didn't do it so that I could brag about being to every country in Western Europe and I don't think it's fair to assume that's always the reason.

I spent a semester in London a few years ago and at the end of the semester two friends flew over and we did a 5-week trek through 8 different countries. Was it crazy fast? Yes. Was it a blast? Absolutely. I think we did it this way for the same reasons everyone else does it - they're so excited about seeing everything!

I knew I would make it back to Europe someday (and fortunately I've been able to do so yearly - now spending TWO weeks in ONE country), but we were a bunch of crazy college kids who wanted to sample a little bit of everything. We had no idea where we'd end up in a year or if we'd have the chance to travel again anytime soon. I can understand why a lot of newlyweds try to do this too - kids get in the way of Europe! (I know, I know, lots of you take your kids to Europe, but it's certainly not the same as traveling without.)

Just my view on the issue. We can try to talk people out of their psycho itineraries, but in the end, they'll learn it themselves.

Posted by Denny
Columbus, OH, USA
733 posts

Maybe we shouldn't be too quick to judge anyone and just call them people who choose to do something differently than you would choose. Maybe they are people making their first trip and are very excited and want to see as much as they can. Maybe they don't have the time or resources to make another trip in the near future. Maybe they'll have a wonderful time.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1361 posts

In travel guide books written by Rick Steves, he put the label "blitz" tourists on people who travel to a different city or place every day. And he puts the label "Kamakazi tourists" on people who travel long distances in railroad trains in Europe at night, they do sightseeing during the day, and travel a long distance in a train that night. I think Rick's use of the word "Kamakazi" (which means Japanese military pilot committing suicide in an airplane during World War 2) indicates that Rick things that method of travelling in Europe is not a wise choice. Each of my trips to Europe was to one or two countries, and I am glad I did it that way. My first trip to Europe : I went to Germany and Austria only. I did not know that I would ever go on a second trip to Europe. But, I am aware that travelling to very many countries in Europe in one trip, travelling long distances in trains half of the person's days in Europe, is satisfactory for some people. For example : when I was in a train going across Sweden, in the year 2007, in the train car with me were 3 young men, age 18, from Vancouver Canada. Immediately after graduating from High School, in May, they flew to London, they travelled in England and Europe for a total of 2 months. Their visit in England was brief. They decided to go to every country in western Europe and Eastern Europe (with the exception of the micro countries : San Marino, Andorra, ...). They travelled a long distance in a train one day, and visited a city the next day, and travelled in a train to an other country the next day. I think they went on a boat from Stockholm to Helsinki, and on a boat from Helsinki to Tallin. Spending much money for a rail pass, they could not afford to buy admission tickets to go in any place. They did not go in any museum or art gallery or castle or mansion or palace that required paying for an admission ticket. I think being at Stockholm would be dull (not interesting, not fun) if a person does not go in any museum.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

"Maybe they don't have the time or resources to make another trip in the near future." But as others have pointed out, in the end, they're spending a lot of time and money to see very little.

What to call this type of trip? How about a "meth-march"? Or "Europe Through the Train Window"?

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1361 posts

(Continued from my previous reply here). Those three young men travelled in every country in Europe (western, and eastern), from Norway to Greece, from Portugal to Bulgaria. It was a two month trip : half of their days in Europe were travel days in trains, or boats. They did not go in any place that required paying for an admission ticket. Using the amount of money that they could spend in that trip, they had a choice : they could go to some countries in Europe, and go in the museums and palaces and castles, etc. Or they could go to every country in Europe (western, and eastern), not going in museums or palaces or castles, etc. They chose to go to every country in Europe. That was their choice. That is not what I would choose, but I can not say it was a bad choice for them. I guess that sitting on a seat in a train for several hours, every other day, became boring, but riding in trains in Europe is not a stressful experience. A family with young children or a baby, travelling in trains for several hours, many days, would be a different story ...

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4766 posts

I think it is easy for those of us who have travelled a lot, to be amazed when we see these kind of posts, but on the other hand how many times have we heard the question - What's the weather like in Europe? As though Europe is just this small state like Ohio, with really cool different cities, and you can get to all of them in the space of a few days and if it is cold in Sweden, it is cold in Spain.

One grows up seeing all the famous sights on TV and movies and naturally, you want to see them all. Many people wait their whole lives to come over here, saving for years, and when they do, they want to see all those sights. I admit that I have not been as gentle as I could be when telling these posters that their plans are borderline crazy, but I will attempt to do so in the future. I certainly did not know much about travel in Europe before I came over here. I thought going to London would be an easy day drive. This was pre-internet of course, but still. I laugh at this today.

What I sort of wish is that people would read some other posts before posting their own question on here.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

I have to admit, I am guilty of one of these "Kamakazi" trips - sort of.

But, it was my 6th trip to Europe (Germany) this century, and I think (thought) I knew what I was doing.

In 2007, I made a two week trip around Bavaria, starting with two nights in Oberammergau (Linderhof), then 4 nights up the Romantic Road (Landsberg, Nördlingen, Feuchtwangen, Weikersheim), two nights in Würzburg, then Fürth (Nürnberg), Vilshofen (Passau), Burghausen, and ending with 2 nights in Munich - 10 place, 13 nights, 1.3 night per place.

That trip was a far cry from my 6 other trips (5 before, 1 since) where I have spent 5-7 nights in one place (3.3 nts average), but I wanted to know what the Romantic Road was really like. Most of the time I only spent a few hours a day traveling and the rest sightseeing. I moved a lot, it was exhausing, but I didn't spend that much time or money (~$300, ~$21/day) on travel.

Posted by Corinna
Krems, Wachau, Austria
386 posts

I nominate you as Guardian Angel & Good Spirit of the RS site, Jo! Unsere Reisefee :-))
That was a beautiful post!!!!!!!!!!!
You are one classy lady,
chapeau!
Corinna

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I would call it "Fifteen Days Sleeping on Trains."

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Well, I love geography and I love to travel and do so often. So yes, I too forget often that other people have different priorities in their lives and when they do get to travel their questions seem, well, "dumb" questions to me. But you do get it on both side of the Atlantic. I had Germans ask me more than once how to organize a daytrip from Calgary to see Niagara Falls. It is not that easy to understand the relationship between space and time on different continents. Try travelling in Africa and you get an all new definition for a "Blitz" Tour ...

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

Whatever we call it, I'd prefer to be helpful and kind.

One unmentioned reason for these kinds of itineraries is that it's really hard to make choices, especially about places where you've never been.

It's much easier to just make a big list. Not so fun to prune it back.

I'm one of those people who really enjoys planning the heck out of my trip, but not everyone is that way. A good itinerary is built on lots of research, sober reflection, attention to logistics, and brutal honesty about what one really prefers.

That's a lot of work! Worth it though.

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
827 posts

Why do we have to call them anything? They come on asking for opinions: politely give your opinion and movie on. If you are personally offended by the post, then say nothing and move on to the next thread. I see a huge difference between Rick Steves giving "groups of people" a name in a book-where he is not saying it about any particular person, and threads getting started that want to "name" someone who has a post about 10 spots down. Usually these are the people that can gain the most from posting on this site. I think mocking them is not a good way to welcome them to this forum.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

I've enjoyed reading the responses to this one especially since no one has really attacked those who want a whirlwind tour.

My first trip to Europe, many,many, many,many years ago was one of those 15 countries in 5 hours tours. I saw it as a highlight tour, an introduction to Europe, and as a way to see where I wanted to go back to and where not to. Sort of a hop-on, hop-off bus tour but for all of Europe instead of one city.

Not long after that, i became a tour director a took people on similar type tours. It was not my favorite way to travel as I now wanted to slow down, but found it was the way many wanted to. They wanted to see as much as possible in as short a time as possible.

Some had saved up to take their one big trip to Europe, others were there to see Europe before starting a family, and others just wanted to be able to go home and tell people they "saw" the major sights. And then the next year take yet another cruise to the Caribbean.

People will travel any way they want and I respect their right to do so. If they come to this board, then I would answer with the travel theories most of us have. If they still want to see everything at once, they I would help point them in the right direction.

As to what to call them...well....they are tourists. Just like us. Their method of travel is what we called "a highlights trip" because all they are getting are the highlights.

And before we judge them, remember, we all have our own idiosyncracies about travel that other members on this board might think just as strange.

If you haven't seen it, I suggest some of you rent the film "It It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium." It's a great satire on European tours.

Posted by Adrian
Costa Mesa, CA
35 posts

Perhaps we should call people such as Lee here "condescending snobs". I'm not normally so blunt (even on the internet), but I've seen this attitude a few too many times on this site. When people ask if seeing 10 cities across Europe in 12 days is reasonable, perhaps we should take it as an opportunity to enlighten them in a more gentle way, as I have seen done many times on this site. As someone who relied on the information and experiences provided on the RS site, including this helpline, I am very grateful to those who were patient and helpful rather than derisive and superior. BTW, your response, Connie, was very well put.

Posted by Mike
Seattle, WA, USA
492 posts

Don't know what to call it, but I think it is fairly typical of first-time visitors. Many people dream of going to Europe or elsewhere long before they actually go, and there are so many great places to see that they've heard about or studied up on that it's hard to pick just one place. So if seeing a bajillion places in a 3 day sweep gives them a feel for the landscape and helps them focus for their next trip, there's really nothing wrong with that. Consider it an up-front "investment" toward better things.

Now, if they repeat that type of travel throughout their life, well that's another story....

Posted by Kate
Winnipeg
590 posts

Wow. I didn't know this site was so judgemental!! The reason why I usually browse this forum and not the Lonelly PLanet forum is that the people on here are usually very understanding towards first time travelers.

If people want to take these quick trips let them!!! WE can give our advice but in the end it is their money and trip!

Posted by Gonzy
Pacifica, CA, USA
171 posts

Maybe we should just call them excited -- I'm including myself as one who is excited. My upcoming trip will be 28 days and visiting 14 cities. My main focus is Spain but I will spend eight of them in France. I'm leasing a car and will be doing what I like to do - drive. Most of my driving is limited to 2-3 hrs between cities with a couple of long days. Seeing as how I am perfectly ok with spending 12 hours on the road, the two 5 hours days that I'm looking at don't really concern me. But the biggest part of my trip will be relatively short driving days which allow me to stop as I plese to look at the little things. So am I insane? Maybe.... Am I doing it my way? You bet! I consider this my fam trip, my next one will be half as long and focused on one locale. Meantime --- 106 days to go!

Posted by Jed
Seattle, WA, US
345 posts

As someone who did their first trip to Europe this past summer, and one who used the board quite often for help (and invaluable help it was!), I can just say that it is hard to get a sense of what you are getting into with a big trip like that. I'm sure there are some people who like the whirl-wind travel experience, but most are probably looking for guidance and feedback to help create a reasonable itinerary. Since this is a "helpline" that is what the "experts" on the board are for. It's a great opportunity for people who reply to teach them and help make their trip enjoyable and worthwhile. There are varying levels of anxiety, naiveté, and feelings of being overwhelmed in planning a big trip, especially for first-timers. It's the experts jobs to help them work through that.

Based on my experience with our trip, we'd even shave a city or two off if we did it again. We loved it, but still a bit too much traveling. But, as someone previously said, we knew we were going to see a lot, but it was going to help us for future trips to see what/where we liked/didn't like (we found we really like the smaller cities and towns much more than big cities). Kind of like a fact-finding mission for future adventures!

I do agree that it would be nice if people would search the posts a bit before posting the same question that was just posted by someone else, and to also be able to handle constructive criticism of your itinerary if you ask for feedback.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1521 posts

One of the reasons people plan these over-ambitious trips is that countries seem so much smaller and closer. To those of us in North America or Australia, to get on a train and in just 1-2 hours be in a different country, different language and culture, why, it's just magic!

All these people who ask these questions are new. I vote that we nicely try to steer them to a slower trip. Point out the time and distances involved, etc. They'll thank us later.

Speaking of which, this site last year helped us narrow our focus to just London and just Paris, no countryside, no trip to Belgium. And I thank you all now.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

Different people look for different things from travel. I know several people who go to the same condo at the same beach every year, but to them, that's relaxing and fun. It would drive me nuts.

To each his own.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

Maureen, in addition to my 2007 Blitz of Bavaria (22 sites, 10 overnight places in 13 days), on four occasions I have spent a week at a time in a little town in the Iller valley in the Oberallgäu. There, each time, I have visited Kleinwalsertal, Oberstdorf, Sonthofen, Immenstadt, Füssen, Lindau, and twice Freidrichshafen.

So, I have kind of done both extremes. I prefer something in between.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

The original point of this posting, if you would read my OP, was to find a name for this kind of a trip - 10 cities, 15 days. Other than conjecturing about the point of it all, that maybe the person was more interested in the quantity of places visited then the quality of their visits, there was no intention to "put down" their choice.

In fact, in the thread that prompted this posting, I questioned whether 1 site in each of 10 cities wasn't as good as 10 sites in one city. But, as I pointed out, it is difficult to see as many places when you are spending a lot of time getting from place to place, and a lot of travel drives up the cost. So, the Blitz kind of trip, although certainly a person's right, would not be defended as sensible by any experience traveler.

As Frank (USA) pointed out, "no one has really attacked those who want a whirlwind tour." This site, is, afterall, a place for travel advice; it is virtually impossible to give an objective opinion without sounding "judgemental". On the other hand, most recently, there have been a lot of individual who attacked those who advised against a whirlwind tour.

I mentioned my Oct 2007 "Blitz" tour around Bavaria where I visited 22 places in 13 days. But there the places were close together, and I only spent a few hours and about €15 per day traveling. That's far different than trying to see London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Rome, the Berner Oberland, and Madrid in two weeks.

On my last trip in November, excluding the last night in Mainz, where I deliberately stayed at a Hotel I recommend, just so I could "check" it out, I only stayed 4 nights (aver.) in each of three places. But, I used those three places as bases for 10 other nearby places to visit during my stays.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

As for names, I like "Blitz " and "Kamakazi" as well as "Blink and Run". Someone suggested "Europe through the train window", which, considering the title of Rick's book, is a cute take-off. Of all of the suggestion, perhaps "Checklist" says it best.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Officially, they are usually referred to as "highlights" tours. (Look at similar itineraries in tour brochures and the word "highlights" will usually be in the title. I've also heard them referred to as "Blitz" tours but not Kamikaze.)

It's not uncommon for many of these tours to do a morning tour of say, Paris, and that morning tour (via bus) will include driving by the Arc de Triomphe, down Champs Elysees, stop at the Louvre to see the big three," back on the bus for a short stop at Notre Dame, back on the bus to drive by Pigalle and up to Sacre Couer.

Lunch

Afternoon, drive back down to the Eiffel Tower and go up to the first landing.

the rest of the day is free.

Next day, on to somewhere else.

Did they see the highlight's of Paris? Yes. Can they go home and say they saw the major sights of Paris? Yes.

Have they really explored Paris? No

And there's the difference. Some travelers want to get a highlight trip of europe and "see" the sights, while others want to explore and experience a place.

And both types of travel are right for the person who travels that way.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1361 posts

Hello Frank : in your reply here, dated 1/23/09 5:53 P.M., you said your first trip to Europe was one of those "15 countries in 5 hours" tours. Ha Ha Ha, Hee Hee Hee. That is humorous.

Posted by Steve
Morristown, NJ, USA
83 posts

I personally think, three days is the absolute minimum one should stay in any MAJOR city in Europe if they want to get any feel for that city at all (just my humble opinion, but the three day rule seems work). Truth be told, in any really large city (Paris, Rome etc.) three days doesn't always do the trick either but at least it's a good start.

Incidentally, I've often wondered how much Rick really listens to comments or suggestions from his readers but after taking his Best of Turkey tour last year (which was terrific), I suggested (along with many others I'd venture to guess) in my feedback that he consider doing a seperate week long Istanbul only tour. Lo and behold, there is a new "Istanbul in 7 days" on the agenda this year. Sometimes it pays to speak ones mind I guess. :)

Posted by Steve
Morristown, NJ, USA
83 posts

Oh yes, back to the question at hand:

"what do we call their method of travel?"

Would any of the follwing work:

Insomniac touring
Adreneline touring
Amphetamine travel
Mucho coffee vacation
Steroids trip
Multi tasking tours?

Posted by Sharon
TX
505 posts

Well, when we took our family on a 14 day Best of Europe RS trip, we called it priceless.

Posted by Tami
Boulder, CO, USA
780 posts

In December, I spent 7 days tourist time (after travel time) in London. The first few days, I saw all the "highlights' (Big Ben, etc). Then I took the Tube and local (not tour)red buses all over, Hammersmith to Covent Garden, etc. I walked from Soho to Picadilly, Battersea to Whitechapel, Kensington to Notting Hill. I saw alot, got alot of great pictures, got a feel for alot of the areas. (Also sore feet!)I really felt as if I can say yes, I have Done London. I couldn't imagine just popping through London on a 7 hour layover to Germany and saying I have BEEN there.

But alas, there were still things I didnt get to do so I am going for another week in April (cheap airfares right now, get em while theyre hot).

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

I don't really call it anything.

I think the fundamental problem is new travelers don't realize the time, effort and expense involved in getting from one destination to the next. They have heard that distances aren't as great as in America and assume you can get from one place to the next quickly and easily. Even when they stay in one place for a few days, they plan day-trips each day.

I cover a lot when I'm traveling by starting early and spending little time for meals. Many people wouldn't enjoy our style of traveling but DW and I have always been the type who say, "If we leave in 10 minutes, we can do ____." While each day is full, I'm careful to limit my travel time and travel days lest the entire vacation be spent looking through a car, train, plane or bus window.

Posted by Jodi
Baudette, MN, United States
163 posts

I agree with Connie and Adrian. And Kate, you are right. Since I have been frequenting this site, it seems to have become increasingly judgmental. I myself, am planning my first trip to Europe and will be visiting 5 cities in 14 days. I’m not going to go into it, but life circumstances make this itinerary the BEST choice for ME. “what do we call their method of travel”(madness, blink and run, vanity trip)…..IMO, those are condescending and offensive remarks…..but that seems to be the theme on many of the posts I run into on this site. Although I have gotten a lot of good feedback from a lot of good people, general opinion seems to be that you are ‘not in the club’ if you’re not on your 5th+ trip for a month long stay.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Jodi, you will meet judgemental people on this site who think their way of traveling is the only way. Then there are others who will try to help you make your trip easier and more enjoyable.

BTW---There's nothing wrong with 5 cities in 14 days.