I’ve traveled to 20 countries! There’s a lot of debate about counting countries in the travel community, but here’s why I like to keep count:
What’s up with counting countries?
I count a lot of things: bears I’ve seen, castles I’ve visited, the number of times I’ve been to Ireland, countries I’ve traveled to. I guess I just like counting, and I like making lists, which is essentially what counting these things lets me do.
The debate around travelers counting countries stems from the thinking that counting countries encourages unsubstantial travel. The counting naysayers think that these travelers blow through countries just for the number, not stopping to experience any of the culture and focusing only on getting a stamp on their passport.
And there are other questions too: Do you count a country if you’ve only been in an airport? Do you count a country if you’ve only driven through it / ridden through it on a train? How long does your visit have to be in order for the country to be counted, for your trip to have been “substantial”? How do you factor disputed territories into your list? Does the UK count as 1 country or 4?
It’s a lot to think about.
Why count countries?
I think a lot of people count countries because they have a goal of visiting every country in the world. Another popular goal is to visit 30 countries before you turn 30.
These are great goals that help push people to make traveling a priority and to see new places and discover new things. Counting countries keeps the wanderlust alive for so many travelers and can help push them through a difficult day.
Why do I count countries?
Counting countries helps me keep track of all my best memories. When I studied abroad in England, I was in a new country nearly every weekend. Having a list of countries in the order I visited them reminds me of all the great experiences I had and all the things I learned along the way
It adds to my credibility as a travel blogger. Not gonna lie, that’s the main reason I plaster my number all over my social media rather than just keeping it to myself and bringing it up at parties. As a travel blogger, more countries typically means more experience, and people will be more likely to turn to my blog for their travel inspiration and trip planning.
Because I can. That’s why.
It can be hard sometimes choosing between visiting somewhere new and re-visiting a country I love (Hi, Ireland!). I don’t only visit new countries to increase my number, though it does give me a certain satisfaction to watch my number grow; I travel because I want to see new places and have new experiences.
It’s especially hard now that I have Kevin as my traveling companion. I want to show him everywhere that I’ve already been without sacrificing the chance to visit new places. The good thing is, we have a never-ending bucket list of destinations, and we aren’t slowing down any time soon.
So count countries, don’t count countries; it’s just a matter of preference. As long as you’re traveling and enjoying yourself, it’s time well spent!
Do you count the number of countries you’ve traveled to? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!