by Will Schreiber

“I did Chiang Mai” Pet Peeve

We were sharing a beer with other backpackers last night at the hostel next door. I noticed us saying, “We did Luang Namtha and Luang Prabang and blah blah,” and then they would say, “Oh I’ve done Laos, and we did Siem Reap in Cambodia.”

As if staying in a hostel, looking up TripAdvisor reviews, and going on a temple tour means you’ve “done” Siem Reap.

“I did Chiang Mai” implies that the city is a checklist that can be marked as complete.

If the goal of travel is to collect stamps1 in a passport, then perhaps it makes sense.

But there is a finality and imprecision to the phrase that misrepresents what flying and eating and meeting and drinking does for you.

  1. This quote is on the wall of the hostel next door in Chiang Mai. Is there really a difference between collecting places and collecting things?