Travel

Oh, You Count Countries, Do You?

November 24, 2017

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…

Do real travelers count countries? How long do you need to be in a place for it to count? How many cities? What even makes a real traveler a real traveler? Do real travelers count countries? Join us as we debate both sides of the argument - where do you stand on it?

Photo Supplied: Flickr

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8 Comments

  • Reply Sarah - Exploring Kiwis November 25, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    For those wanting to know, I’m currently sitting on 67 countries and Nathan just a few behind that.

  • Reply shesatripblog November 26, 2017 at 2:28 am

    I country count as well! I like checking things off lists haha. But never at the expense of my trip. I went to the UK again on my last trip instead of Belgium and Luxembourg because I missed it haha.

    • Reply backpackingbecky December 1, 2017 at 12:46 am

      Love that you missed the UK! 🙂 Belgiums lovely I recently visited Antwerp and have met some lovely Belgians on my current trip in New Zealand x

  • Reply Sarah November 26, 2017 at 6:15 am

    I have to admit when I first started travelling I was fascinated with counting countries, however now with four children that I am trying to install the same love of travel with. We focus more on places we know they will love (Why we have been back to Disneyland multiple times) places they will learn new cultures, and just places we want to visit.

  • Reply TheAmandatoryAdventure November 26, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Very interesting perspective! I have been counting countries, but only for the sake of trying to absorb as many different cultures and experiences as possible. Love it!

  • Reply A Woman Afoot 👣 Inspire & Empower (@awomanafoot) November 26, 2017 at 9:31 am

    I actually don’t know how many countries I’ve visited… But I live in Europe – it’s not that difficult to make a “check” next to three or even four in a day if I wanted! But I prefer to just go and enjoy, without the stress of going to a particular place so it adds a number to my count. And then, I’m a hiker, so by definition I am a very slow traveler!
    I like going back to the same countries – they different so much from north to south and west to east! It’s nice to see differences between cities and regions.
    But I don’t mind if people count. Life is too short to be bothered by that. Each person can travel the way that makes them happy – as long as they don’t hurt anyone, right?
    Nice post 🙂
    Happy travels!
    Ioanna
    A Woman Afoot

  • Reply The GypsyNesters November 28, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Got to admit… we count! Can’t help it.

  • Reply backpackingbecky December 1, 2017 at 12:44 am

    I was intrigued to see how many countries I’d visited when someone mentioned it to me. But it’s not important to me to tick as many as I can off, it’s more important to me that I am travelling where I want to whenever I can 😉 Unless it is en-route! haha. I don’t really enjoy being treated like a tourist at all, as I have been away a while and will be away a while longer, this is life for me right now if not home. I treat the places I visit with respect like I would at home! I appreciated being treated with the same respect where ever I am! stepping a foot outside the airport doesn’t count, but then I think, if that doesn’t count then does visiting one city or town in a whole country count? Nice read Sarah! I love that you are super keen to re-visit places you have already been! <3

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