WHY A REAL TRAVELER WOULD NEVER SAY “60 COUNTRIES AND COUNTING”

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Do you ever feel that some people travel because it’s the current trend? Just to tick off a box on a list they made? Just to visit as many countries as possible, as if they’ll get some kind of reward if they actually do? Do you also feel that some others travel only to show off rather than because they truly enjoy it?

 

If you do, I feel you!!

 

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Long before I started blogging, I got bit by the travel bug. I went on my first parent-free trip at 16 and my first overseas trip at 22! Since then, I haven’t stopped, except for one year, when I fell into a mild depression. That’s when I decided that travel would be my priority and that I wouldn’t mind where I went as long as I got to see or experience something new: a mountainous Serbian village, a hidden beach in Greece or a city I’ve never been to before. It didn’t necessarily have to be a new country.

 

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But this post isn’t about me. It’s about this annoying trend I’m encountering on my news feed daily.

“80 countries and counting” – “3 continents, 45 countries, 13 villages, 2 lakes and a well.”

Get out of here!!

 

But wait. Before you go, I have a question: What do you actually mean by “80 countries and counting”??

 

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Let me help you understand what I’m trying to say. I am Greek and I’ve lived in Greece most of my life. Yet… I haven’t managed to explore everything. I can proudly say that I have seen a fair amount of Greece. I’ve visited many of our islands but I’m still missing some important places – plans already made to visit in the near future 😉 So does that mean I get to tick Greece off my imaginary list?

 

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I have been to Italy 7 times. I have seen Rome, Milan, Celle Ligure, Genoa, Venice, Trieste, Treviso, Cesena, Naples and Turin. Can I say that I have seen Italy? Can I now tick Italy off my imaginary list and never look back? HELL NO. I can go 20 more times and still won’t be able to say “I’ve seen everything”, nor tick it off my list.

 

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Isn’t it degrading to all of us real travelers when someone goes to a capital city for a few days and then says “seen France (aka I strolled around Paris for 2 days), next stop Athens”? No. Just no! It’s wrong to devalue a whole country like that. A real traveler would never do that. A real traveler knows she can return to the same country, the same city even, plenty of times, and always experience something new. A real traveler knows how to fall in love with the same country over and over again. Your goal shouldn’t be to just visit as many capital cities in the world as possible and take selfies with their national monuments. That’s being a tourist. If you want to be called a traveler, your goal should be to actually experience a country. You need to experience their culture. To see its lakes and rivers, its islands and mountains, its cities and the countryside, its important landmarks and cultural heritage. Imagine being able to navigate a foreign city, or two or three, easily, almost as well as a local.

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Now how many countries have you visited?

 

In order to do that, it takes years. You can’t claim you’ve done that for as many as 81 or 99 countries and you’re only 26. It doesn’t add up.

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Ignore those trashy competitions without a prize and freely visit the same country as many times as you wish and I am positive that you will always find something new. Your life will be more enriched if you experience 100% of 3 countries than if you experience 5% of 50. As with many aspects of life, quality is more important than quantity.

 

So just to reply to a nasty comment saying that the countries I’ve seen are not enough for me to be called a traveller… I’m more than you’ll ever be!

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Oh, and I almost forgot! The cities I enjoy returning to the most are London & Budapest. The country I book a trip to at any given chance is Italy. You’ll be seeing a lot of that on my blog!

 

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Do you have a destination you love to return to?

Leave a comment below!

79 Comments

  • Sara says:

    I’ve thought this so many times! I honestly feel like so many people do travel just because “it’s the thing to do”. Great read :)

  • Janis says:

    I agree on so many levels! Thank you for writing this!

  • I am thinking about this everytime when people ask me about their holiday destinations in Greece or some places I post about. They take for granted that after first visit for a couple of days they will be completely into that city like a local. Completely agree with you that true travelers can always go back and discover something new even in the small village!

    P.S. Love this kind of your posts <3

    • NIKI says:

      I will just take this opportunity to say Thank You for promoting my beautiful country. You are doing a marvelous job. I have been reading your blog occasionally to be honest and I really enjoy seeing familiar things through your eyes.

      That being said, I just followed your Instagram too :)
      thanks for your lovely comment.

  • Amanda says:

    Well said, I’m fed up of those claiming to have seen and done it all by 22! We’ve been travelling as expats for 11 years and before that just travelling… we’ve lived in Greece now for 4 years and still have so much more to see. We go back because as you said we know we can’t see it all one short visit of a few days. It takes a lifetime to really experience the world and be a traveller.

  • Joan says:

    Thanks for sharing. Even though I’ve been > 50 countries in 6 continents covering 7 wonders of the world, there are still lots to explore. Just like you said every time, we return to the same place, it gives a different experience. I have been to most of the European countries except Greece & Portugal. Someday, will love to visit these 2 countries. Europe is the best place to travel when you’re < 26 – experience backpacking, the youthfulness, the Eurorail (all the different types of rail), ride on hovercraft (France to UK), cruise in Scandavania, Top of Europe (1st time touching the snow) etc. I don't have time to blog but did share in fb – please feel free to check it out. https://www.facebook.com/1WorldWonders/

  • Mae-Gene says:

    I don’t like to judge different travel styles, but I have to admit… It REALLY bugs me when people list off the number of countries they’ve visited. It misses the point of travel – you don’t go to tick off a list item or to increase your country count. You go because you love exploring, seeing somewhere that’s different to home or learning about a culture that is different to yours. I definitely relate to all of the above – thank you for writing! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this annoyance!

  • Eva says:

    I love going back to places. For me it is Norway. I have returned to Norway 9 times, over 10 years, and I couldn’t be happier. Can’t say I’ve experienced 100% of it, not at all, but it’s a big country with a very diverse landscape and diverse seasons, so even going back to Oslo alone at two different times of the year leaves you with different feelings.
    Thus said, I am guilty of having only been to some countries for one day, and I still “add them to my personal count”. Even when I haven’t experienced much of a whole country, if I have stopped there and tried its food and heard its language that’s already something for me. Life may take me back there, maybe I will have other chances to explore more. If I don’t, I’m happy at least I got a little taste of someplace new. This will make me even more itchy to go back and see more, or go back and see the same place at a different time of the year.

  • Dashin' Ash says:

    This is one thing that really bothers me in addition to people and their tallies, scratch off maps. I’ve received a couple over the years, from people who want to help me “keep track of where you’ve been,” but they cause me so much stress. How can you ever get to the point where you scratch off an entire country? I will literally never see it all, it will never be complete, so why should I get the coin out? Where do you draw the line between “I’ve seen enough to make it count” and “I had a layover there once?”
    Sorry, that was a little rant I’ve been dying to get off my chest.

    • NIKI says:

      Not rant at all. It is exactly what I and obviously so many more people above (and others that have messaged me) think and believe! You are right. 100% right. There is a fine line and in order for people to brag on social media they need to say X countries done. As for the maps, I find cool the ones that are about cities! I love pinning cities! But no, I can’t just scratch out China, if I have only been to Beijing :) xx

  • jana says:

    I agree with this soooo much! It’s incredibly irritating when I see this in any Instagram bio, it makes me think about whether or not I really want to follow a person who travels to just count countries and not focus on exploring :(

  • Ali Dunnell says:

    Great blog post – I’ve shared it on my travel facebook page http://facebook.com/travelswithmyart

  • Nate says:

    Agree on this! I am a slow traveler and live in some places for a couple of months sometimes and still I wouldn’t tick off Malaysia although I lived there for 4 months, nor would I tick off Hawaii although I traveled there several times and lived there for 4 months. I usually say “I’ve been to KL, Penang, Langkawi etc in Malaysia but still haven’t seen everything.”, when people ask me how Malaysia was. Every region or city is different and there always more things to explore. I also don’t like the around the world trips (3 days NYC, 3 days Sydney and so on). It feels so wrong when people just count it as completed a country. However, people like to travel in different ways and I respect that. As you said I would also call these people tourists instead of travelers.

    Thanks for sharing this, really enjoyed the read!

  • Jess says:

    Did someone really make that nasty comment!? That is ridiculous! Screw them.

    I agree with you on the fact that we shouldn’t travel just to tick countries off a list. However, I do love to make lists- about lots of things not just travel!- and I do take some pleasure in adding a new country to a list of places i’ve visited. But I do not for one minute think I have seen it all.

    Also, I would never claim to have ‘done’ a country. I hate it when people say, ‘I’ve done China”, for example. Like, what!? Its completely done is it? No more to see!? OK then?! haha!

    Interesting post :)

    • NIKI says:

      YES YES YES!! Your last example is everything!! I do too love lists to be honest. Just not those who state that a country is “done”! So if I take 195 trips and see each capital of the world.. that’s it? I’m done? I find it so pessimistic! Thank you for your beautiful comment!

  • Jenn | By Land and Sea says:

    While I agree, I also get really tired of everyone assuming their way of travel is better than another’s. There are so many different ways to get out and see the world, be it one day or one month at a time, and I think every way is great. I love exploring new places and revisiting old ones, exploring my home state or even my own city. What I think is important is that people are getting out there and expanding their horizons. And, to those who choose not to travel at all, good for them too. To each their own!

    • NIKI says:

      I 100% agree with you. My point is not to dictate where or how people should travel. But to make them remove this need social media create for them, to count the countries just to post them on their Instagram bio. Also, to make them realize that a whole country can never be ticked off a list, unless it is Monaco which is so small and you can basically see everything in a week. And even Monaco… in 20 years from now, you might see something new! So I just dislike ticking! hahaha! Thank you for your comment 😀

  • A real traveler knows how to fall in love with the same country over and over again. I totally agree with you!

  • I love this! I’m a journalist but also get interviewed as a source frequently and hate, hate, hate when I get asked in an interview: “how many countries have you visited?” I honestly have NO clue at this point. Like you, I went on my first parent-free trip at 17 and started traveling solo internationally at 19. I’ve been on the go every since and am now almost 35. Also, like you, there’s so many places I *haven’t* explored within my own country, so to say “I’ve seen Croatia” after just being there for a long weekends seems, I don’t know, false. And many places I just transit through for a day or two, so does that even count? If you ask me, country-counting is the bane of the travel world in 2017 where everyone is just doing it for the ‘Gram.

    • NIKI says:

      Kristin!!! Omg, this comment says everything in a short paragraph!! I’m going to copy and paste it as a reply to people who say I dictate how someone should travel! They miss the point! It’s important for certain people’s Instagram bio to write X countries and counting. So lame. I know a blogger who has been to Mykonos for 3 days and thinks she has seen Greece. DUDE!!! Get real! I live here and haven’t seen everything after 29 years! The world is huge and it changes rapidly! I love love love your comment. And your blog! xx

  • Sophia says:

    I like to see as much as possible, so if I have a short amount of time and I’m in a region with a lot of countries (like Europe) which are close together and easy to get to then I would rather visit more than spend longer in one place. That’s just what I like to do. But one of the reasons I love traveling is to find places I want to go back to. I’ve been to Germany twice in a year, Australia three times in my life, I hope to go back to America many more times, and there isn’t really a country I wouldn’t go back to.

  • Melissa says:

    We lived in Germany for 4 years and during that time had the opportunity to travel Europe a bit! It was INCREDIBLE! I love all of the little towns and seasonal festivals there. 4 years is a good amount of time but definitely not enough to say “I’ve seen all of Europe now!” I would love to go back and visit so many more places, because Europe is incredible!! I would definitely love to go back to Greece as well! It was beautiful when we visited! :)

  • Three times in Paris, two in Rome and Florence and I can’t get enough of them!!! I totally agree, counting cities and countries doesn’t make you a better traveller than someone who has visited a few but splurged into local cuisine and customs!!

  • Yes, travelling is a thing in which I never get bored. Every destination is refreshing if travelled after some time .

  • YES! Finally, someone who is on my side with this! I wouldn’t go as far to say ‘real traveller’, as I believe travel is different for everyone, but I personally don’t country count for these and so many other reasons. I actually have a similar post on my blog about this: http://pagetraveller.com/how-many-countries-are-there/

    • NIKI says:

      I will surely check it out as soon as I finish replying to the comments! I’m 100% on your side lol! Maybe yes, “real traveler” is indeed a bit provocative, but so is counting!

  • Kasia says:

    I totally agree with you Niki. I haven’t visited that many countries but I want to go back to them and see more. I definitely want to go back to Italy. I’ve only seen Rome so I can’t really say that’s I’ve seen all of Italy. There’s so many places that I still want to explore. Great post girl.

  • Sujenne says:

    I agree with you totally. I just started traveling more this year and even tho I stay for a month in the same place I know I haven’t seen everything. Oh hell I live in Curacao for 24 years now, but I still haven’t experienced everything and its my home ISLAND!! For me travel isn’t just the popular monuments, but also the culture, the food, the people. What I love more is traveling to places that have been dealing with safety and other issues that I don’t have to worry about where I live so I can teach my locals that we should be happy with what we have.
    Great post! I will sure share this post.

  • Maddy says:

    Firstly, great post and well written. I understand what you’re saying, but I disagree. I have set myself a challenge to visit every country in Europe before I turn 26. I am counting countries but I’m not ever saying “been there, done that, won’t be going back to Italy now I’ve been”. I count as a way to keep track of my adventures, not to brag about it and be a “tourist”. Also it’s one of the first questions my family and friends ask me with regards to my travel. Good article though, thanks for sharing

    • NIKI says:

      I agree and disagree with you. The reason why you do it is perfectly fine. But you belong to the minority! I have met so many people through my travels who just count in order to raise the number in their Instagram bio. Thanks for your comment. God bless :)

  • Daniela says:

    Great article and I totally agree with you. I’m European but my heart belongs to Latin America. I lived in Brazil when I was younger and have just spent almost half a year in Peru. My next destination will be Buenos Aires next week and then Uruguay. There are people who have asked me why I don’t go to Asia which is very popular among digital nomads like me. Well, I’m not interested. I don’t have to go to Thailand or Bali because everyone goes there or because it’s cheap. I’d love to visit every country in Latin America but that’s a personal wish and there are countries I will always return to, knowing that I will never be able to see all that there is to see.

    • NIKI says:

      I know right!! There are so many “expected places” in order to be Instacool. (that said I do go to Thailand this year yet it was one of my dreams). I am more of a city girl to be honest. I am fascinated by the architecture of different cities of the world. You do YOU and ignore any expectations that don’t meet yours!

  • Amrine says:

    Nicaragua is my go to go return to, but there are so many others I want to return to explore more.

    Thank you for this post- I agree so much!!!

  • Julie says:

    Well said and I agree! I have taken four trips to the UK and have at least four more that I want to do. Couldn’t begin to claim that I’ve seen it all (or even most of it)!

  • I would LOVE to go to Italy one day! Bucket list! Beautiful photos :)

  • Cate says:

    I am barely just beginning my international travels, as I first left the United States to visit Barcelona and Paris at 19 and then didn’t leave again until I was 29 this past year! In the last year, I visited London, Dublin, Paris (two more times), and Berlin. In two weeks, I’ll be returning to Paris for a month to take a language immersion course and then do a little traveling in Italy for the first time with my husband.

    I often feel like I must seem silly returning to Paris again and again when there are still so many other places to see, but I just feel called to it. In fact, I don’t think I could ever travel to Europe all the way from California and NOT visit Paris. There is still so much more of France (and the world in general!) that I’d love to see, but I love exploring the city of Paris again and again because it always hold something different for me. This post made me feel a lot better about revisiting one’s favorite places in the world! Thank you for sharing this!

    • NIKI says:

      that’s so nice to hear sweetheart! no one is to tell you how many times you get to see a city! the world is huge, one can’t manage to see everything! so when you find your happy place, GO!

  • Annalisa says:

    We spoke about this topic on Facebook, but I still want to leave a comment here and learn more about you (for example omg you came to Genova?! That’s my city!).
    I think that it doesn’t matter the number of countries visited (you can count them as a game, it won’t hurt anyone) but it’s the spirit you have when you travel that matters. I met many people who could afford only a few days in a city and being the most curious guys ever.
    I also met people (sad to say all of them from the same country) that spent months in the same destination and never leant the language or other cultural aspects, but oh wow they claimed “I lived in Italy for 3 years” and still can’t make a whole sentence in Italian or still believe in terrible stereotypes. They just make me sick as much as people that count countries make you sick.
    I agree to fight ignorance.

    • NIKI says:

      Hahah! I encountered 2 rats on my way up the hill and became famous for a minute due to my continuous screaming for like 1 good minute! hahahaha! Now on the bright side, Genova is gorgeous. The architecture of the city… meraviglioso!!
      I agree with you Annalisa! Kisses from Greece :)

  • Lucy says:

    Bringing other travellers down to make yourself look better is seriously so uncool and click-baity. If anything, a “real” traveller would be someone enjoying their adventures without having to try and invalidate others.

    Nobody has the right to shame others and make some arbitrary cut off about acceptability. Enjoy your own life and be happy you have the privilege of travel ✌🏼️

    • NIKI says:

      You telling me what to do and what to write on my personal blog is also uncool! If you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to read me. It is so obvious that most people agree with this. But you got it wrong… because the message I am trying to pass is: travel because you like it and not for your Instagram bio. Many people get mocked for revisiting Greece every summer. Because “travelers” assume that once you’ve been in a country… done, move on to the next one. I have seen this ridiculousness happening MANY times. You can go to the same country 20 times.. China for example, and still won’t be able to tick it off a list. Doing the opposite is what is shameful from my perspective.

  • Kelley says:

    That phrase really IS annoying now that I think about it. I’ve only been to the Bahamas but I’m looking forward to more international travel in the near future. :)

  • Thank you so much for this post! I could not agree more. For me, it’s about depth, not quantity.

  • Lawson says:

    This is soo true! Having an imaginary competition with no one in particular. I live in Nigeria and visited only turkey, yet I feel and I know there are lots of things I haven’t been a part of yet! You just nailed it!

  • kristal says:

    I really enjoy when I am able to travel . I can think of endless places that I can go just about anywhere and enjoy myself. I still think of my first trip

  • Tahnee says:

    Oh I 100% feel this as I feel bad I haven’t seen enough of my own country. We’ve decided we’ll start after getting married

  • Nadica says:

    Great post. I love to travel too. You’re right even when you’ve been so many times on that place, every time is something new.

  • Lara Green says:

    I’ve seen this trend, too and I hate it. It makes people arrogant. A traveler cannot afford to be arrogant because no matter where you are, you HAVE TO respect other cultures and their traditions. Being arrogant is not being respectful! Thank you for sharing this post. It had to be said.

  • Nice post. Some of the points are amazing. And specially loved your post.

  • Manvik says:

    that’s a nice post and meaningful it doesn’t matter u have visted once or twice u will always find new things if u look for….

  • MinhNguyen says:

    Travel is always my inspiration and inspiration, just like your writing. Great!

  • Globejamun says:

    Absolutely ..No country can be done ever! it’s a different experience each n every time .

  • Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Bhuboy says:

    You clearly made a point in this one, I would love to travel in the near future too, and I don’t it’s a tick of thing, you can always come back to a place you have been through before and see places you never been into before or see it with a new pair of eyes, because you have change. Thanks for this

  • Mary says:

    I completely agree with you. For me there are two ways to see a country – one is as a tourist (like you said) visiting a few key places on holiday. The other is to really live somewhere, settle in for months or even a few years and explore until it is home. I have done both and loved every minute of it. It’s so nice to meet a kindred spirit!

  • Right on spot! Great post! Bravo Niki, someone had to say this!

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