Travel Time Ratio

A formula to consider while planning your trip. Take the Total Days of Trip and deduct the Travel Days of Trip to gain and understanding of the Net Days of Trip available to enjoy the travel. Now divide the Net Days of Trip by the number of places you plan to stay. SO lets examine a proposed trip itinerary I just saw on RS: 14 total days for trip Arrive Paris Go to Alps (left undefined at to what village in the Alps) Go to Provence Go to Barcelona Depart Barcelona 14 days minus two travel days = 12 net days (arrival and departure) Paris, Alps, Provence, Barcelona = 4 destinations 1/2 day travel from Paris to Alps, Alps to Provence, Provence to Barcelona = 1.5 days travel 12 net days minus 1.5 additional travel days = 10.5 net days
10.5 days divided by 4 destinations = 2.65 travel ratio As a rule of thumb we strive to stay at a 3:1 travel ratio. This ratio allows for an enjoyable pace optimizing the ability to meet people rather than just seeing "things". Note: while folks may respond they believe they can travel "efficiently" to maximize their days I ask consideration of the impact of stress associated with the travel (avoiding delays, settling into new accommodations, adapting to new destination). I share this perspective due to the common question of "How many places can be jammed into a trip?" Safe Travels! Steven

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

What if one destination only requires sixteen minutes? Would you have to convert this whole process to minutes or could you just use fractional hours? What about destinations that aren't that far apart? Most importantly, Is there an App?

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

So using the sample itinerary in your post, what advice would you give to the traveler to modify it to achieve the more optimal 3:1 ratio. A statistical approach is useful if it can actually be applied to real circumstances.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Well Steve the math gave me a headache, but I do get the gist of your point. I personally like a minimum of 3 nights in a place to get a full two days there..one night stops to me are transit stops,,you may get an hour or two in late day to wander around ,and while 2 night stops are much better its still only one full day in a destination. We 'moved" 7 times on our trip last year ,in 26 days. We found that too much and its the most I have ever done ,, usually keep it to once or twice in 5-6 days. I guess everyone has their way of doing it though. I just feel if a place is only worth visiting for one day only ( 2 nights) I may have to consider eliminating it from itinerary as most great places ( to me) should be worth at least 2-3 days of visiting.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

No, I am not kidding. This is a discussion about destinations requiring an overnight stay (so the 15 minute comment is irrelevant). It is meant to be a method to help people understand how to judge the value of spending their time while on the trip. Using a three night ratio has helped us prioritize what we desire to see, but more importantly; using a "ratio" makes us think about how much time we are leaving ourselves to invest in meeting people.
You either get it or you don't.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

My daughter is a senior Boilermaker. I am from another school based on logic........Texas A&M.
Thanks!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3577 posts

WHOOP! Gig 'em, Aggies!!! Therefore, whatever Steven says IS the truth ;-) So basically, 3-1, and pay attention to your travel days. For those having trouble with the math - don't panic, just read the entire problem once through, then re-read it and solve it. Just like school...

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

To make matters worse, I just barely passed "cowboy math". But nice to see you get the concept. I raised the subject cuz it is the most common mistake to plan point A to B to C without consideration of providing time to interact and create an enjoyable experience. Safe Travels!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I think this is a good guideline, as a guideline - not a rule. There are some places that travelers are determined to see (Rothenburg odT, Venice, etc) that for MOST travelers are great for an overnight but are total overkill for 3 nights. There are also some people who enjoy the transportation aspect of the trip, particularly the train nerds, so they're not neccessarily going to see ALL transit time as a total write-off. But I agree with the general principle. I'd say 90% of the time I travel, I wish more for time at my destination, not less.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

Completely agree with you. Striving to help folks to view themselves as being a "sponge" able to soak up wonderful people experiences versus the need to "check off" places they have seen. "Just add time" and great wonderful memories can be made by engaging with folks. I just had someone ask me if one night was enough for Paris....... from a first time visitor. What many travelers do not recognize is many cities (large and small) offer a great evening/night time experience which should be valued as much as the time spent during the day seeing sights.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I just had someone ask me if one night was enough for Paris.... I sometimes wonder if people who ask this kind of question are from small towns and have never been to NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. Do they really have no concept of a large city with a widespread and complex infrastructure? Or maybe they're just so focused on wanting to 'see' as much as possible in the short amount of time they have for a trip that logic kind-of goes a bit out the window.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

The question, often asked with different cities as the subject, has come from a variety of locations. This one was from Chicago. I believe part of the issue is the pavlovian response many people are lead to believe is required for "enjoying travel". The characteristics include: - need to maximize the return on expense investment by "seeing" as much as possible - need to maximize the limited amount of vacation time by "going to" as many places as possible - need to be able to say "Been there, done that", either to friends, family or themselves - overly concerned with "security" in terms of willingness to stay out late or venture into unknown environments - a concern this might be a once in a lifetime experience so EVERYTHING has to be "tasted/touched"
- a concern about the "language barrier" being too great of an impediment to overcome in meeting folks. All of the above are REAL issues to resolve for each traveler in order for them to maximize their experience. My wife and I started out with the same mentality, but were so fortunately to quickly learn "add time/reduce expectations" to create wonderful memories. So to everyone I advocate, regardless of your destination..... set aside time to walk in the parks, sit at a cafe, lean against a building and ENGAGE YOURSELF with people! Safe Travels!

Posted by Janis
Grapevine, TX, USA
870 posts

Eileen & Steven will understand this. I love it when people come to Texas for the first time and have a "whole week" and want to visit Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, South Padre Island, and El Paso!!! It's further from Dallas to El Paso than from El Paso to California!
And everyone we talked to this year in Germany, Austria, and Slovenia when asked where we were from and we responded Texas their first question was, "Really! Do you live on a ranch?"

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2373 posts

I personally like to travel at a slower pace and spend a few nights or more in a major city. But the reality for many people is they simply don't have the time, money or interest to travel as slowly as I like to. Of course it can get ridiculous, say spending only one night in Paris, but I'm not going to criticize those that want or need to do a faster pace. I did whirlwind trips in college - it's not unrealistic to be able to see a lot in a short amount of time. There is a tendency on this board to forget that many European travelers might not return and really want and need to maximize the time and cost of their trip. And not everyone likes sitting around in cafes or late-night, 2 hour dinners. I can't stand laying around on a beach for more than a day; I'd be offended if people told me I was crazy to only spend a day at Hilton Head or some such... A more reasonable evaluation is whether people are doing fast-paced trips in a narrow or wide geographic area. Paris-Berlin-Rome in 10 days is far different than London-Paris-Amsterdam in 10 days. And there is nothing wrong with making sure people are aware of transit time and the time spent getting to and checking into hotels. Some people clearly do forget to factor that in or don't realize how much time it takes. But otherwise, let people travel the way they like/want to.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

I share this perspective due to the common question of "How many places can be jammed into a trip?"

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17728 posts

steven, I'm also a big fan of logic (I have on occasion been referred to as "Mr. Spock"), but the method you're proposing is WAY too much work and too much effort to use in trip planning. I prefer to base my time in each location on what I want to see and to there, rather than using a predetermined formula or ratio. I plan logistics very precisely (transportation, hotels, etc.), but touring is more relaxed. I have a list of sites that I want to see in each place, but if I don't get to all the ones on the list, no problem - I'll add them to the list for the next visit. I suppose I could program your method into my HP RPN Calculator or an Excel sheet to make it easier to work with. Your method is interesting, but I don't think it would work for me. Cheers!

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

Am enjoying the life, 90 days, this post is lasting. Keep in mind the intent is to GUIDE travelers on how to optimize a trip while minimizing travel stress and maximizing enjoyment. Clearly responders are more focused on the arcane math used in my initial post...... So lets have some fun. How would you concisely compose a formula/haiku/graph/art conveying the GUIDE? So using a smile put your mind into formulating a positive response! Safe travels

Posted by Trishia
Vancouver, Washington, United States
41 posts

Steven, this may be a bit off topic but I'd like to ask how do you "engage people"? I know Rick Steves also says this and shows it in his films but it's easy to do if you're Rick Steves:) I find it's even hard to "engage" people in the US. Everyone seems to be head down looking at their phones for the most part. I make a 1-mile lap around my condo complex 2-3 times a day and I find that for the most part, people do not want to interact at all and these are my neighbors! My husband and I spent a month in Europe earlier (Spain/France) this year. We found a British couple who yakked with us at the Barcelona hotel and in Granada, an army guy from Texas visited with us a bit because he needed us to watch his stuff while he ran back to his hotel. I did have some fun crazy experiences in Girona trying to locate a laundry mat (there are none) and the Catalinian thought I was asking for paint.... But overall, I find that people don't want to engage at all. I do shower every day.
What am I doing wrong?

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1333 posts

@ Trishia, Youre from vancouver. seriously tho.... ive found that some/most people you may WANT to chat with ARE NOT on vacation and are doing/going to someplace like work. So thats puts a damper on things. ive found that if one person doesnt chat, then someone else will. i also found that the person behind the counter in a store will be more happy to chat especially if youre buying something. also, some people are out there to rip you off so i can see why people wont stop to talk. it will depend on the sit alot. happy trails.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

We "engage" quite a few people in the countries we travel in. Begin by "heads up" and notice all the people coming towards you. You may nod your head towards them and smile. When in shops I always ask if they speak English. Standing at a stop light I look at the person next to me and if our glances meet I nod and say hello. Its not hard. People who recommend not meeting the eyes of stangers are destined to be strangers themselves. I really do not know how that ever got started. We have gotten into some very interesting conversations with people we have never met before who are citizens of distant lands.

Posted by Marbleskies
USA
277 posts

Excellent topic, thanks for bringing it up. We do keep our heads up and genuinely smile at folks. We strive to ask the basic questions in their language. In shops, where they are paid to engage, we ask about go to non tourist bars. We even ask if they know the owner so we have a name. We buy some drinks. Not all our efforts are successful, but we are successful in always trying to make the effort. Admittedly it is a tough shell to crack, but well worth the effort. And we find people watching to be as rewarding as museum viewing.
Btw, love Canadians, great people.