There seems to be a trope in the travel blogging community, and it bugs me no end. Actually, it’s not at all just travel bloggers. It’s every listicle loving website out there too. It’s Stylist, it’s The Pool, it’s the dreaded Huffington Post (which is banned in my house for proliferating the idea writers should create content on spec) and it’s on the TV too.

What’s this trope I write of? It’s the damn counting of countries you’ve visited, flights taken, continents covered, UNESCO sites explored and money spent doing so. I can’t abide it and I’ll tell you why.

It’s irrelevant. Yep, I said it. I don’t care how many countries you’ve visited, or how many flights you’ve taken — that doesn’t raise your worth to me. It doesn’t make me feel as though you’re more or less of a ‘traveller’ than anyone else. And it definitely doesn’t make me want to read the rest of your blog post.

If that sounds harsh, maybe it is. I’ve been thinking about the idea that certain types of travel are valued in higher esteem than others for a while now and why that might be. I don’t honestly don’t know, but I do know that these types of posts often elicit the words ‘I should.’

woman with backpack standing in forest

Doing things because ‘I should’

The dreaded I should’s of travel…..or, in life, only serve to hold you back. I write about this when I was travelling long-term, as it’s something that really affected my decision making and my overall mood.

In googling ‘counting countries’ I found a few things. Blog posts titled the same as this one, presumable stating the same thing as me (although one of them written by someone who recently wrote a post counting countries…..), some telling you why you should count countries, and one titled: ‘Why real travellers count countries.’ Real travellers? I mean, I have so many issues with that concept it would require a whole other post!

Before you think I’m a complete grump, I get why this is a category of post. I understand why people want to write, and read lists of where someone’s been drilled down into easily digestible facts and figures. Especially at the end of the year, when roundups are doing the rounds.

I just don’t see a huge value in them. I don’t count the countries, flights, continents or whatever else I’ve been to for one simple reason.

Scotland travel - man in kilt looking over culloden battlefield

My 25th tour with a man in a kilt!

It stops me following my intuition.

If I start a country tally, aI may never go back to a country I loved and want to see more of. Because then I’m wasting my valuable travel time seeing somewhere I can’t tick off.

Maybe you enjoy reading posts like this without letting it affect your travel plans. You rock, and I wish I were more like you! But I’m not like that, and I suspect I’m not the only one either.

When I sat down and thought about my intentions for this year, and I wrote about the things I’m forgiving myself my travel decisions were one such thing. There are new countries I want to visit, not because I want to see an incremental number but because I want to see them. End of. There are also countries I want to go back to.

Yes, to see different parts perhaps. But also to see the same parts. The parts I love, and am familiar with. Does that make me a terrible traveller? Does it mean I am unwilling to step out of my comfort zone? Yes and no. And either way, it doesn’t matter. Because both of those questions are completely irrelevant to my self-worth. They are irrelevant to the amount of content I’m able to create in my job.

These are questions that, in my opinion, only serve my ego. And my ego serves nothing but a false sense of my self-worth. I mean, there’s a place for the ego – but we should never be a servant to it, ya know? If at this point you’re thinking – b@@tch please, you are cracked. I get it.

Imposter Syndrome - woman's hands in heart shape at sunset

Competitive counting

I understand the want, and the need to count countries like they are achievements. Because for many people, myself included, it is an achievement when you visit a new country. I get why there is a goal of seeing a certain amount of new things each year…..actually, my friend Jen has a simple goal of three new countries each year and that’s awesome. It’s an internal goal, just for her and she doesn’t plaster it over social media in order to make herself appear an ‘expert’ or a better traveller than the rest of us. I like visiting new countries too, and I would hate to never see anything new again.

I just don’t think counting them is meaningful. I think it’s competitive and I think it is a way of making people feel a little like they are better than others. A way to validate their path. An even though i can;t imagine anyone wants to make anyone else feel crappy as a result, I think that can be the result.

Rant over, peace out.

L x

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If you've ever seen a post listing the countries, flights and continents visited and wanted to scream, I'm with you. This is why I NEVER count countries.

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