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Dr. Hogenauer ...                 Portions of Countries & States

 



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Systematic travel: Part 5
Portions of countries and states and other adventures.
By Dr. Alan Hogenauer

Hello again, fellow travelers!

Thus far in our series on systematic travel, we have focused on visiting political units, ("countries" et al) and spatial units (sectors or quadrants defined by meridians and parallels). But there are in fact many more potential visit challenges related to these two!

Politically, you can travel "larger" to some portion of each of the seven continents (hopefully before you reach the eighth - "in-continent" - sorry about that one!)

Or you can travel "smaller," as most countries and territories are divided into pieces like: states (the USA, Australia), provinces (Canada, Panama), departments (Colombia, El Salvador), parishes (Bermuda, Barbados), counties (at the national level, England), even prefectures (Japan). All offer endless possibilities for systematic travel, as they ultimately provide a more complete destination experience. And they, in turn, can be further subdivided into the familiar (counties - most U.S. states; parishes - Louisiana!) or the unfamiliar (tourist regions).

Tourist regions? Yes, these are a fascinating subdivision of all the U.S. states and Canadian provinces. The respective governments have spent millions of dollars developing and promoting "tourist regions," but they remain little known to most visitors and residents alike. As of December 7, 2008, there were 323 such regions in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, obviously averaging 6.3 each, but ranging from 12 in California to just one (DC itself). Size apparently doesn't matter; Texas and Rhode Island each have seven! You've undoubtedly visited many without even realizing it.

Tourist regions don't leave out any part of their larger political unit, and generally correspond to groups of existing counties and parishes for administrative simplicity. They are named either geographically ("North Central" in New Mexico) or cleverly ("Gold Country" in California, "Timberlands" in Arkansas, "Red Carpet Country" in Oklahoma, etc.). And they serve two main purposes: 1) potentially encouraging visitors to spend more time (and money) within the state or province and 2) efficiently allocating promotional monies.

Such regions are not cast in concrete; in 2009, for example, Explore Minnesota Tourism is splitting one of its present four regions to create a fifth. And diligent web surfers may find some conflicting numbers on different sites; in Missouri, one site indicates seven regions, but another, that of the state's Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus lists 10 different ones. (I used 7 in calculating the 323 number cited above.)

Spatially, there are countless options. One method that is easily envisioned and readily tracked is referring to an atlas (local, regional, state, national, or even global) and traveling to at least some point on every full-page map. Obviously, the more detailed the atlas, the more challenging the goal. I've "finished" this approach using the classic Rand McNally Cosmopolitan World Atlas (1971 version), their U.S. Road Atlas, and several of both the venerable Thomas Guides and the excellent DeLorme series. One can also use the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's 1x2-degree "quadrants" index, which delineates 481 rectangular quadrants across the 48 states.

If you're really determined (or certifiably insane!) take a typical road map (like those of the AAA, since those gas-station freebies are ancient history), and visit some point in each of the sections created by the folding! I've tabulated 2,726 so far, using 68 maps in the AAA's U.S. and Canadian series and have managed to reach some point in all but 95.

Finally, as mentioned previously, there are two categories of lists: objective and subjective. Let's look at a few of each category. Objective lists are self-explanatory. Subjective lists, despite their subjectivity, are rarely capricious or inconsequential. Below are a few of my favorites, some of which are still works-in-progress; there's a bit of overlap, to be sure, but that simply reinforces the perceived importance of some of the places.

Objective lists include all those "rank order" compilations, which certainly help the traveler evaluate the relative importance of a potential visit or experience:

The world's top 50 airlines, in terms of annual passengers carried;
The world's 50 most populous countries;
The world's 50 largest countries in terms of area;
The world's 50 largest cities;
The world's 10 smallest "countries" and so forth.

Subjective lists include all those compilations based on judgment rather than rank order:

Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels, still intriguing, decades after its publication;
Incredible Sights, a marvelous little compendium of worthy places worldwide;
501 Must-Visit Destinations, which really pushes the possibility envelope, but does include some non-repetitive ideas; and
Heaven on Earth - 100 Places to See in Your Lifetime (actually 101, paying tribute to the "eventual return of New Orleans").

What all of these diverse methods do, in case you still just don't get the idea, is motivate the traveler to explore parts of the world - even around the corner from home - that might not otherwise be experienced.

Next time, we'll pursue even more systematic efforts to open your horizons, focusing on transportation!

Until then, happy travels -- determined or otherwise!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Alan Hogenauer is Associate Professor in the College of Business Administration at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, specializing in travel and tourism. He has been traveling "systematically" for more than 50 years. In 1980, he became the first person to reach all the units of America's national park system, which he updated in 1995 and 2006. His multiple travel challenges are listed on his website cheklist.com. Dr. Hogenauer's latest and ongoing goal is to link everywhere on earth using surface transport only; to date he has linked 169 countries and territories on all seven continents without using an airplane.


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Dr. Alan Hogenauer

 



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