I often see many travellers on social media openly counting the number of countries they have visited. It seems like every next destination is just another one to add to the list in order to increase the number. When did travel become something that compares to counting calories? If i’m honest, counting countries has never crossed my mind, neither has counting calories. In fact, whenever I do see a ‘traveller’ being openly boastful about how many countries they have visited, I often roll my eyes.
Travel for me is about each individual experience, not on each country. The personal and unique moments, the good and the bad. You simply cannot put a number on number on those encounters and certainly not through the number of countries visited either.
I just returned from my fifth visit to Paris and a countless number of visits to France. I found myself sitting on the rooftop of my hotel, overlooking the streets below. The sun was beaming and I had a ice-cold drink in my hand. As I looked up, I could see the most perfect view of the iconic Eiffel Tower. I sat back and ran through a flash back of all the moments I had in Paris, where I spotted the Eiffel Tower. From being a young 11 year old on a school trip, to coming back for my 19th birthday, to press trips, to running around being touristy with friend. One iconic building, one city, so many exceptional moments.
Each time I have stood at the base of the Eiffel Tower, I have had a different person stood by my side. That’s special. Meeting different people along the way and making memories with special people, that’s another reason I became a traveller and travel blogger.
I don’t feel inadequate compared to those that count countries, because travel isn’t a competition. I don’t feel the need to race other travel bloggers or travellers to be one of the few that have visited every country in the world. In this lifetime, if I cover a small number of countries but experience every single journey to my fulfilment, taking it all in, I will be happy.
Travel is a remedy for me. It’s not something I want to rush, whizzing in out of countries, merely leaving my footprint before taking off to another destination. I want to eat the local food, drink the home-grown wines, feel the salty wind in my hair. Do activities that make me a more fearless traveller. I want to scream, shout, laugh and open my eyes to the beautiful world we are so, so fortunate to be able to explore.
Travel is about also being immersed in the moment, which is why i’ve also stopped centering my travels around social media, specifically my Instagram. I almost felt like I was being a faux traveller. Choosing a hotel because it has the perfect Instagrammable view? Making a check list of Instagrammable spots in each destination? No!
I recently had to check in with myself and ask “Are you travelling for your followers or are your followers following your travels?”. It should be all about travelling for me, not for others. After all, I grew a following from sharing my experiences not creating those sharable experiences on purpose.
People will never perceive you as well travelled by how many gorgeous, Instagram photos you have or the number you plaster on your social media. You will naturally portray how well travelled you are by the countless exhilarating and unique stories you have to share – what your eyes have seen, your hands have felt and your feet have touched. No picture or number can compare.
The world provides us with so much to explore, to learn and to grow with. I want to experience the world, at my pace, with love and passion for each destination I visit. No matter how many times I visit or don’t. That’s why I don’t count countries.
Until next time…