Like the ongoing debate as to whether you’re a traveller or a tourist, others also debate whether counting countries has value or is a shallow pursuit.
For those days do count countries, does stepping foot out of an airport count? Maybe spending a night? Are you really seeing a country if you fly from point of point or does it take months of over-landing to really tick a place off? Will buses do the trick or is one required to hitchhike to really travel like a local?
What’s to be gained by keeping a record of how many countries you’ve been to?
I don’t know about you but I really couldn’t care less.
Some days on the road are incredibly hard work but I’m learning to wear them like a badge of honour.
Some days you argue, some you miss the bus. Sometimes the language barrier is just too great, others it feels impossible to get a good nights sleep – inconsiderate roommates, plasticwrapped mattresses and noisey roads – take your pick. Difficulties abound – nonexistent toilets, upset stomachs, scams, robberies.
Big or small, travel really can be challenging.
But often in retrospect, the difficulties become one of the best things about the journey; it’s all about learning. Sometimes when things go wrong it ends up with a result that’s unexpectedly right.
Patience, resilience, empathy, kindness and respect – all values you’d be hard-pressed not to deepen over an extended period of travel.
Regardless of how long you travel for or how you choose to do so, there are opportunities everywhere for self-improvement; to better understand how others live and to grow in the process.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
– Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Does keeping a record of the number of countries visited have any impact on this potential for personal growth? Does the process of counting countries (or not) matter in the big scheme of things? Does the manner in which we choose to travel make a difference?
Of course not.
Some opt for all-inclusive trips, in which they never step foot outside of the resort, but for the shuttle that brings them to and from the airport, whilst others trapse around far-flung countries on the tightest of budgets. Some immerse themselves in a new language, culture and food whilst others prefer visiting countries that feel a little more like home.
Do we have any right to judge? What’s a walk in the park for one might be a massive step out of another’s comfort zone.
Do I count countries? You bet.
Am I afraid to revisit somewhere I’ve been at the expense of adding to my count? Never.
We travel for the love of it – for the places, the food, the people, the experience (and sometimes, yes, the shopping).
Life’s too short to worry about what other people think.
Whether you choose to travel fast or slow, whether you count countries or not – you do you and have a fabulous time in the process.
Because at the end of the day, what should it matter to anyone else?
If you would like to track your travels, we love Been!
Whether you agree or disagree, pin this post to get the conversation going…
Photo Supplied: Flickr