17 October 2015

Counting vs. Seeing

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a party and I had a discussion with someone there about travel habits. We were talking how our travel habits have been changing as we age. Before, when we were younger, we somehow had the urge to simply visit places as many as possible. So, if it's your first time to Europe, then you probably would do some itinerary involving just the major cities, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Istanbul. But as we get older, we tend to like slowing things down a bit.

I still count. In fact, I still have this goal of visiting a hundred countries before I die. Right now I am at 42. One would think that with a goal like that, I would strategically plan my trips to maximize the counting, no? It turns out that that is not the case.

See, as much as I love to increase my country count fast, I also like to see things. There are plenty of places that aren't really on a traveler's list, which I have visited. I have been to Belgium, for example, and I have visited not only Brussels but also small towns outside of it. Even here in Berlin, where I live, I also find it interesting to visit small towns and villages that have something interesting for the traveler.

Contrast that to most travel bloggers. I get the feeling that these folks equate Sweden with Stockholm, Denmark with Copenhagen, Germany with Berlin, when these countries are way much more than their capital cities. Sometimes I browse the travel blogs online, and this is the impression I get from their articles. It's ironic, because these travel bloggers tend to boast saying they know how to travel off the beaten path, saying that they are travelers and not mere tourists, but seriously, the coverage of their articles suggest the opposite.

There are very few travel bloggers out there that I think are really travelers who are interested in seeing the place. Most are simply interested in the statistics of their trip, counting how many countries they have already visited. While I do admit that I count, it is not the main driving force for my travels.


  1. There is always this silly competition among travelers, who's been to the most countries, who's traveled the longest, etc. It doesn't matter. What's relevant is the journey, the experiences... and yes, traveling slow makes sense too, as well as exploring less "exotic" locations sometime close to home.

    1. Zhu,

      It is indeed a silly competition. After all, different things work for different people, it's silly to say that you aren't cool if you haven't been to X, or you haven't been to X countries, the same way as it is silly to say that you're not cool if you don't eat foie gras.