Search for anything travel-related online and you’re bound to come up with a number of lists for results. The top 10 things to do in Bangkok, 10 things not to do in Cape Town, or 14 places to go this summer. While there’s nothing wrong with list format (I’ve written my fair share), it’s the generic overarching variety that can be difficult to glean information from.

crumpled list

You can, however, leverage all of those lists into useful information so that every top 10, worst 7, and best 8 page you come across isn’t wasted digital time.

Use More Lists

You might be thinking that more lists isn’t what you need when you’re already overwhelmed with them. Yet cross-referencing several along the same topic lines can help you gather more information than just skimming to the bottom of one. You can, for example, anchor a few travel plans around items that keep coming up on several “things to do in Denmark” or top 10 things to do-type articles.

tivoli copenhagen

In fact it’s repeat items on a number of lists that can help you at least garner the popular results for a specific search you were looking for.

typing on laptopGo To The Source, Contact The Author

It’s not always possible, but the person who wrote the list can be a good way to get behind the numbered headers. You can do so directly when it comes to most travel blogs but even on larger sites (e.g. CNN Travel) many authors are fairly accessible.

Of course, you don’t even need to send an email to anyone. Writers on larger sites claiming expertise on specific destinations tend to write more material than one list about them. Simply Google the destination followed by the specific author; for example, “Jake Sisko New Orleans”, and you might have more meat to add to that skinny list.

Comments sections too, if available, can sometimes have good information to add to an online travel list as well. This tends to work in reverse site-size though, with (relatively) smaller blogs having more useful comments than those of larger websites which can get bogged down with trolls or other irrelevant banter.

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tokyo at nightAppreciate The Impact Of Short Lists

Lengthy lists often try to encompass everything under the sun. Lists are brief by nature but don’t have to be nothing but all of the numbered places possible to see in Tokyo. A collection of shorter lists can help do the narrowing down for you – rather than a few long lists which leave you more overloaded than when you first started searching. Travel lists that are 50 items long are tough to grapple with – and though sometimes fun to read, usually cumbersome to extract good information from.

Solidify Subjectivity

Most travel lists, unless they’re counting quantifiable data, are subjective. The key to making the most out of a generic travel list is to turn that subjectivity into your own personal concrete plans or database about a given place or culture.

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bird following breadcrumbs

Avoid the 4 kinds of travel lists that won’t help you very much and mold the generic ones into shape pointy-edged precision tools, working your way from there. You might find plenty of the same 10 things to do in Vancouver but only the hiking appeals to you. Focus on that aspect when you continue your travel search and you’ll find that generic travel list might just be the perfect breadcrumb…leading you to find travel-related information you didn’t even know you were looking for.

[photos by: macwagen (crumpled list), SPazzo (typing), (Tivoli Copenhaen: foXnoMad Photo) TOMOYOSHI (Tokyo at night) dirkstoop (bird following breadcrumbs)]