"Homepage" ZeekLTK's Profile

I've always been fascinated with traveling, and was lucky enough to be able to go on a few trips to Europe when I was younger. Over the course of two different trips for a student ambassador program I got to visit 9 different countries (10 if you count Vatican City) and loved every one of them.

In college, I got to study abroad in Quebec City and later Mali, and that solidified my love of travel. Now that I've graduated and have a real job, my goal is to visit at least 2 new countries every year.

I joined this site to both get tips about the new places I am considering visiting and to share tips about the places I've been.

My Travels

Where I've Been
2014 - Bahamas
2013 - England, Belgium, Netherlands
2012 - Finland, Estonia
2011 - Panama, Costa Rica
2010 - Gabon, South Africa
2006 - Morocco, Mali
2003 - Quebec (Canada)
2000 - Spain, Andorra, France, Monaco, Italy, Vatican City
1998 - England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway

Planned Trips
2022 - Qatar

Soccer

On a personal note, I'm a huge soccer fan. I play the game and I've been able to hit up quite a few international games here and abroad. I've been to some great games so far, including a handful at the 2010 World Cup!

United States 2 - 0 Canada (Detroit, Michigan - Gold Cup 2011)
Panama 3 - 2 Guadeloupe (Detroit, Michigan - Gold Cup 2011)
Spain 2 - 1 Chile (Pretoria, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
United States 1 - 0 Algeria (Pretoria, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
Spain 2 - 0 Honduras (Johannesburg, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
Brazil 3 - 1 Cote d'Ivoire (Johannesburg, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
Denmark 2 - 1 Cameroon (Pretoria, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
United States 2 - 2 Slovenia (Johannesburg, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
Uruguay 3 - 0 South Africa (Pretoria, South Africa - World Cup 2010)
United States 2 - 1 Honduras (Chicago, Illinois - World Cup 2010 Qualifier)
United States 2 - 0 Mexico (Columbus, Ohio - World Cup 2010 Qualifier)
United States 3 - 0 Trinidad & Tobago (Chicago, Illinois - World Cup 2010 Qualifier)
United States 2 - 1 Mexico (Chicago, Illinois - Gold Cup 2007 Final)
Mali 1 - 0 Guinea (Bamako, Mali - U-20 World Cup 2007 Qualifier)
United States 2 - 0 Mexico (Columbus, Ohio - World Cup 2006 Qualifier)
United States 1 - 1 Jamaica (Columbus, Ohio - World Cup 2006 Qualifier)
United States 3 - 0 Grenada (Columbus, Ohio - World Cup 2006 Qualifier)

Travel Algorithm

I'm a computer programmer, and I especially like working with things that involve artificial intelligence. To me, artificial intelligence is all about using a complex algorithm to give numerical values to all possible choices, and then making a decision based on those values. For example, a chess AI doesn't "think" about what it is going to do, it takes the data from the board and calculates all possible moves, and then it selects the move that has the highest value. It's not actually "thinking", it just looks at a list of values and then takes the top one as it's "decision".

This is essentially what humans do as well, we look at two (or more) options and then we pick one - but how do we decide? Clearly we give some kind of preference to that choice over the others. And it's usually not random. Given the exact same choice over and over, we will generally always pick the same option - do I want vanilla or chocolate ice cream? I'll always pick vanilla, that has a "higher value" to me.

But one of the things that I struggle to make decisions about is where to travel. I want to visit every city and see every country, however, that's a pretty lofty goal and since I only have a finite amount of time to accomplish this goal, it is very likely that I will NOT get to see "everything". So it's always hard to decide where to go, because if I pass up going one place, I may never get go there.

So I wanted a way to "maximize" my traveling by making sure I always go to the places that I would really enjoy, so that at least if I don't make it to "everywhere" then I can at least hit all the "top spots". But That's a very subjective category. What is a "top spot" for others may not be interesting to me at all, so I needed a way to come up with my "top spots" in the first place.

That was when I created my algorithm. I tried to think of every possible factor that goes into traveling. The cost of the flight, the distance to travel, the cost of being in the destination, what the destination is like (safe? cheap? expensive? etc.), requirements to go to the destination (need a VISA?), what time of year it is, even the size of the country and how many neighbors it has.

So that helped me come up with my initial rankings, and Costa Rica came out on top. Of all the categories, they had the highest marks across the board, just beating out Germany for the top spot. And so I used it, I went to Costa Rica in 2011... and had a great time! The algorithm was a success!

Travel Algorithm (cont.)

But then after I got back, I started to look into my 2012 trip. Germany huh? That seemed a bit expensive... and that was when I realized that (for me) it was much more important for a destination to be affordable than it was to just be "best overall", and so I came up with the "weight" system. Now I could set it so that the cost of the trip was more important than how many neighbors a country had, or the distance, or whatever.

And then it really got interesting because I could play around with the values and come up with specific spots to go for various scenarios. If I was traveling on a very tight budget, A, B, and C were the top places to go. If I wanted to hit up several countries on one trip, D, E, F were now top of the list. If I wanted to go see a lot of historical sights, it was X, Y, or Z, etc. Now it's starting to look useful!

So I used it again, I plugged in more values and I came up with the appropriate weights for myself and the list kept spitting out Eastern European countries... Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, etc. so in 2012 I decided that's where I'll go. Originally I was going to go to Lithuania/Belarus, but the VISA for Belarus was too expensive for such a short trip (I'd only have about 10 days total), so I then looked into Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania, but the flights to any of those countries was so expensive, it was much cheaper to fly into Helsinki, so I finally settled on Finland/Estonia.

Probably would have never even thought to go there without my algorithm, but I'm glad I did because it was such a great trip. I fell in love with both Helsinki and Tallinn and while I generally don't like to "back track" and go to places I've already been, I could definitely see myself going back to either place. Heck, I've even started contemplating moving to Estonia, I loved it so much. lol

So, I'm continuing to tweak my algorithm, and while it is still "me-centric" (the flight costs are based on flights from Detroit, the language value is based on English, VISA is based on being an American citizen, etc.), I've put it online for anyone else to try to use as well.

It can be found here: http://whereshouldigo.comuv.com

So check it out. I'm always trying to think of new criteria to add that will help influence the rankings, and I am definitely open to suggestions. One thing I want to add is "trip duration" - some locations are great for a long weekend, but others you need a few weeks to see everything, so I want to be able to factor that in and have it tell me "well, if you are only going for 4 days, go [here], but if you are going for 14 days, you might want to go [here] instead". So I'm not quite finished with it, but I'm getting closer though!

  • Intro Updated Jun 9, 2014
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Comments (15)

  • toemayn's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2013 at 5:20 AM

    Hope your birthday is filled with all the fun you can handle!

  • CEP1863's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    Wishing you a very happy birthday. Hope it's a good one!

  • May 7, 2013 at 3:02 AM

    hi ! :) just a new member of this page..
    just want to ask.. in your opinion, why should i visit morocco?? ^_^

    looking forward for ur shared stories.. Thanks! :)

    --
    beth of Phils.

  • gwened's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    ahh another soccer/football fan here, great. You have a good idea on car, is an adventure over trains in Belgium/Holland where the local folks are very much train goers. Cheers

  • WanderingNomad's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Great soccer picture. I did a Masters Thesis on Liverpool Culture "The voice of the KOP: songs chants and banners of liverpool supports". I also try to go to Costa Rica everytime we qualify against them. Great place to see the game, and you already know about the freindly Tico's. I'll be traveling there for next qualifying match

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    Seek... World cup 2014. You going?

    • ZeekLTK's Profile Photo
      Jan 4, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      Most likely! Will probably try to focus on the Rio/Sao Paulo area and go to the games there. How about you?

    • giampiero6's Profile Photo
      Jan 4, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      Chance I'll be in the Salvador area since that's where my friends live! Very much looking forward to it!

  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    i can see you're SOCCER / Football fan ;-)))

  • kmohandas's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    May the new year bring you & family tremendous joy and infinite reasons to celebrate your life. May it usher in new possibilities and give new meaning to your life. And may you cherish each moment it beholds.
    Have a wonderful promising and fulfilling 2013.

  • kmohandas's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Wish you a lovely Birthday filled with full of happiness & joy. Also wish you a happy & prosperous NEW YEAR.

  • Henrik_rrb's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Haha, sorry. No ideas about that. But the ticket price shouldn't be too high! Enjoy the game!

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ZeekLTK

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Location
Portland, Maine
Member Since
Jan 4, 2011
Website
http://whereshouldig...uv.co

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