Saying You've “Done” a Country is Really Your Loss. It could be the way some people speak to friends or colleagues, a way of travel bragging or travel one-upmanship. But really and truly, saying you've “done” a place is your loss. Here's why:
1. It Represents a Check-the-Box Mentality
We've heard this from the occasional client or reader, a way of signifying that they've already checked the box of a place on their bucket list, they can move on to the next new thing. And everyone's entitled to their view of what travel means for him/her. But if travel is merely a check-the-box exercise, another thing on one's to-do list, it reduces so much of the joy, discovery and self-discovery, and serendipity of the best travel experiences.
2. It Represents a Lack of Interest in Delving More Deeply into the Destination and Culture
As someone originally from Hawaii who has spent years living in the state, has been to six of the seven main inhabited islands and traveled around the state, I find it particularly galling when someone tells me they've “done Hawaii.” On a trip or two. In a matter of days. Really? Even with all my years of experiences there, I still would never say such a thing. It indicates a very cursory, superficial interaction with the destination and a lack of greater engagement with the destination's diverse places, people, and culture(s).
An anecdote I'll always remember is an Austrian student at my university. For a lark, he and a friend of his decided to go around Vienna, Austria, as English-speaking “tourists.” They had a delightful and completely different experience of their city than when they were German-speaking locals, even though they thought they knew Vienna like the back of their hands.
3. It's Not Realistic in the Slightest
Let's analogize travel to dining. After having one pizza would you say you've done Italian cuisine? If you've had sushi have you done Japanese? Does it make any more sense to say after one, two, or even three trips to Paris that you've done Paris, much less France? Countries and cities are too big to ever “do,” and even hotels and resorts aren't static, they're dynamic. New places arise, new people create and transform these places.
4. It's Offensive to the True Experts of the Destination
Let's say you're a sommelier, and a diner insists on a Malbec wine to go with a spicy Thai dish. You try to suggest a particular Gewürztraminer as a more suitable pairing. “Definitely not,” the guest insists. “I've already done Gewürztraminers.” Never mind the fact that the guest has almost assuredly not tried all Gewürztraminer wines. And sure, maybe there's something about that style of wine that the guest doesn't care for. But even so, the response is still going to sound nonsensical and offensive to many expert sommeliers, while a simple “I know that's likely the best wine pairing, and it's true I haven't tried all Gewürztraminer wines, but the ones I've tried I'm not a fan of” would be more accurate and less boorish.
What's your take? Do you think it's helpful or not to talk about having “done” a particular destination?
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