Hello, my name is Raychel J., I’m a freshman, and I really haven’t been anywhere. I was born in Austin, and have lived here my whole life. I have yet to travel outside of the state of Texas, (I’m trapped), but I have high hopes for when I do start to travel. I would like to visit California, Canada, France, England, Italy, and quite a few other places. I’m taking French because I was also considering studying abroad in France or England, and I believe it would be quite a helpful language over there.
In chapter 8, Meander, Ken Jennings discusses how international travel has evolved, and how travel can benefit our perspective and knowledge of geography. The chapter begins talking about the Travelers’ Century Club, which leads to the conclusion that “America’s infamous lack of map savvy ha[s] something to do with our reluctance to travel overseas.” (Jennings, 151) He goes on to talk about “country baggers” (Jennings, 153) which are people considered obsessed with visiting more and more countries and won’t stop until they complete a self-created checklist. Jennings moves to discuss other similar clubs such as the Highpointers Club, “founded by Jack Longacre, an Arkansas trucker who enjoyed visiting state high points” (Jennings 155), and people such as Peter Holden, who has eaten at more than twelve thousand McDonald’s. The topic of checklists is touched on as well, and Ken Jennings describes completing a checklist as “the universal smug thrill of crossing something off a to-do list, and finishing a checklist is even better, you recognize things in their entirety. If you can say you’ve got one hundred percent of something in your background, you don’t have to worry that you missed out on something.” (Jennings, 158) While Jennings is talking to Charles Veley, the world’s most travelled man, he points out that it’s not only going to the places that makes it great, it’s also meeting all the local people at each location that makes it worthwhile. Of course, money is a trouble with visiting many countries, but Chris Guillebeau, an average American citizen, found out that he could visit 100 countries for $30,000, which is far less than the over one million dollars estimate that Veley spent on his travels. Guillebeau also believes people racking up countries to make an official list or those who rely on an external reward need to reconsider their motivation, because there isn’t any external reward, the only reward is what you get from yourself.
I chose to cover chapter 8 not because I can relate to it (since I’ve never travelled) but because being able to travel whenever and wherever I want is a goal of mine. I also want to live out of this country or study abroad to experience other cultures. Personally, I love the idea of the Travelers’ Century Club, because people who all enjoy excessive travelling can share their experiences and ideas with like-minded people. But I think the people who want to visit all of the Starbucks and McDonald’s ideas’ are a bit far-fetched and a tad unnecessary, because what grand experiences do you get from going to McDonald’s all over the country? I also agree with the author in that if you travel more, you’ll be more geographically aware of the world if you actually go see it.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this book as I’ve always been a fan of maps and geography, and this book heightened my perspective, and allowed me to think beyond maps, but also to the stories behind maps and what they meant then compared to now and how they can be applied to any situation.