Why we should stop ‘collecting’ countries

In Instagram-bio’s and on travel blog about-pages, you often see a number of countries the person has visited. Sometimes even with the flag emoji’s accompanying the statement. I think that’s an unhealthy way to look at traveling. Here’s why!

First of all, I hope this blog post doesn’t come off as too ranty. It’s not meant to be a rant, it’s just meant to share my opinion on the matter. Also, it’s an opinion and not facts. So keep that in mind. 😉

It does not make you a good traveler

My first issue with the country collecting rage is that it does not say anything at all. Visiting a lot of countries doesn’t make you a great traveler. It makes you a consumer of ways of transportation and hospitality services. Traveling is not about pumping up your numbers. It’s about learning about a place and culture, creating memories with people you like, and meeting new people and ideas.

What counts as a visit?

A second issue is, when does your visit count. You have people that go to a country for a long period, you also have people that do a quick stop for a layover. People arriving in the morning by airplane, doing a quick stop in the city center, and fly out again in the night. Does that count as an actual visit?

What’s long enough to get to know a country? Or even just a city? I have been to cities multiple times without seeing things twice. What I am trying to say, is being there the same as visiting? Or what is the actual definition of a visit?

It feels like a competition

Counting countries and boasting them online makes it feel like it’s a competition. Travel, in my opinion, is not a competition. As I stated before, traveling is about new experiences and knowledge. It’s almost like going to school.

Gaining those experiences cannot be counted by a number of places you’ve been. Some people visit the same country, over and over again. They really get a feel about the country, the people, and the culture. Others go to a different place every time, but make sure to take their time to go around the country.

I don’t judge my fellow travelers by the number of countries they have visited. Yes, I do judge the people around me, everyone does. I observe them, look at how they react in certain situations that might come up, how they organize themselves, and how they go about exploring a new place or activity.

It alludes there is an endgame

As if you are finished traveling when you have visited them all, and can start a new ‘challenge’. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to complete traveling as if it’s a game. Even going to the same place multiple times, will give you a different experience.

One time it might suck because of bad weather, the next time you meet up with the loviest people, then again you are going to a newly openend museum. It’s always different!

Alicante travel

So, what does make a good traveler?

Well, according to me at least.

  • Someone that keeps an open mind to places and activities. Even if he/she has done it before.
  • Someone that can find new things to do in old places.
  • Someone that takes his time for exploration.
  • Someone that doesn’t brag about the number of countries, but about the memories.
  • Someone that tries to connect with new people.

What makes a good traveler according to you? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: There is none, I just really wanted to write this piece of content for you. <3

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3 thoughts on “Why we should stop ‘collecting’ countries

  1. Thanks for articulating this! It’s been gnawing on our minds for the longest time now…

    By making this also into a brag-fest, people are taking the joy of traveling.

  2. I totally agree! What matters most is wether you enjoy your travels (with respect for the destination and the locals of course) even if that means you visit only one or two places. I think everyone needs to decide for him/herself what makes them happy. If it is visiting every country in the world, then okay, go ahead, but don’t make it a competition, don’t push others to do the same by bragging about it. Let everyone find there own way of traveling and happiness.

  3. Hey Frederic. Great point of view. I think you are correct for a large part. I think I’m not a part of the “have as many countries as possible” group, but for (almost) every country I have a thing that I really want to experience. The Sahara desert in Morocco, climb Aconcagua in Argentina, etc. Every country has a unique thing (even our little belgium with Bruges and C-mine :)) So I think I want to visit them all, but not to have the country to brag but to make sure I did everything in my power to experience all the unique things this world has to offer.

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