New travelers often make the same error as young bucks: They put too much value on the count. Months later, what is left from that quick night with Jennifer or blazing through Italy in five days? Both were better than staying home, but an opportunity lost to go deeper.
The era of social media and cheap HD cameras has exacerbated this old traveler pitfall. Destinations are now edited down to highlight reels. Production teams, eager to push out content, fall into the same ruts that steer the banana-pancake backpackers: Laos becomes a drunken float tour and waterfalls, the Philippines is about a party in Boracay and paddling kayaks around Coron; Italy is about hiking Cinque Terre and eating pasta.
This content is not without virtue. It inspires folks to travel, which is intrinsically a good thing. However, it inadvertently encourages the idea of checklists: You gotta do this. You have to go here.
People don't care about numbers as much as we estimate*, and numbers don't build a sense of self-worth as much as we hope. Investing time in a culture or a person creates connection. Connection opens the mind by exposing us to different perspectives. Connection creates a sensation of belonging and inclusion. Connection fosters understanding and love. This is the essence of travel.
St. Augustine famously said "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."
The world is more like a library. Those who do not travel read only one book. Those who speed travel are only reading the back covers.
The wealth of emotions, the complexity of the human experience, and the novel perspectives can only be reaped deep in the pages.
* With the exception of social media numbers, which is a currency that continues to gain value.