fast travel

Whirlwind travel isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Photo by Ian Muttoo.

Gadling has an interesting post about why the author hates the popular TV show The Amazing Race. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the show is essentially a reality TV program in which 11 teams of two fly all over the world, completing both physical and mental challenges in a bid to win a one million dollar grand prize.

I personally love this show because I take it for what it is – a TV game show with a pretty unique setting. However the author over at Gadling complains that the show depicts traveling all wrong, namely, that it emphasizes quantity over quality when it comes to experiences.

“The Amazing Race 12, had contestants traveling 30,000 miles to 10 countries within 21 days. I understand that such a breakneck speed makes for great television – it is a race, after all. But I feel that The Amazing Race sends the wrong signal to travelers that it is okay to speed through airports and train stations and villages. Travel should be one of those activities where you allow yourself to slow down and take note of the details. Travel deeply not quickly.”

I agree with her point – to an extent. Travel is generally more meaningful when you take your time immersing yourself in the culture, exploring small villages and really getting to know how people in that part of the world live their lives.

That said, I think there is a case to be made for fast travel that takes you on a whirlwind journey through multiple cities in a short space of time. The kind of travel that leaves you breathless, exhausted and a little dazed.

And I think this is exactly the kind of voyage that is perfectly suited to first-time travelers.

Why?

Because someone who has never been abroad before has no way of knowing what kind of places they’re actually going to like. And someone who picks one place, goes there and dislikes it might assume all destinations or all forms of travel will be similarly unpleasant.

For a first time traveler, the best kind of trip is one that gives them a taste of many different places, people and cultures. It’s the kind of trip that whets their appetite and makes them want to go back. It is essentially the kind of trip that leaves them bitten by the travel bug.

If you watch The Amazing Race, you’ll see this is exactly what happens to many of the competitors – particularly those who have never been outside the US or beyond Europe. They might not be experiencing the kind of “deep” travel that long-term or experienced travelers do, but their eyes are opened to a new world – one they will hopefully revisit. At the very least, seeing the hardships others in the world face seems to make them appreciate their own good fortune a whole lot more. And isn’t that ultimately, what travel is all about?

What do you think? Have you taken short, multi-city trips? Do you think this is a good way to familiarize yourself with different kinds of destinations? Is fast travel better than no travel at all? And what do you think of The Amazing Race?