Song of the Day: Love is Blind by Lapsley
For some reason I keep vibing with the criticisms of the travel blogging community as of late. But honestly, sometimes the things that people freak out about really blow my mind. There's been some recent chatter in the travel community over whether or not it's douchey to count your countries. The argument is something about how you can't compare a 12 hour layover to a week, a month , or living in a country. Or how it's just a one-upping mechanism used by travel bloggers to try to "out travel" each other. Or some shit about how "real travelers" travel organically, not by keeping track. And there is some truth to that, or at least the first part. However, why can't it be determined by the individual whether or not to count that country? And why do we always assume that counting our countries is to try and fight to the death with other bloggers over who is more worldly?
I just read the douchiest article of all time by an unnamed blogger who started the article with "I probably have been to more countries than you" and then went on to claim that you can't count a country unless you can name someone besides the cab driver or the concierge at the local Hilton because you're "doing it wrong." I'm sorry sir, however, there are plenty of countries I've been to where I don't get the names of everyone I meet. Also, how belittling and counterproductive. I actually had to ditch the article halfway through because I'm legitimately repulsed.
The other day I actually found an article with the RULES for defining what counts in visiting a country. THERE ARE SIX OF THEM. Stop. I'm dead. AND there are comments on the article arguing that you must have met the locals, spent multiple nights in a country, tried the cuisine, and blah blah blah. My question for you is: WHO ACTUALLY GIVES A SHIT!?!?!?!?
When did we start belittling and demeaning others for their travel choices? We assume the worst in people and that they're just trying to tick a number on their country counter and move on. Even if they are, why does it affect you? But can't it be an individual journey, as travel should be?
Personally I'm a country counter. But for me, counting countries is not much more than a tool to track progress of a goal that I set for myself. My goal for the past year has been to visit every single country in Europe / the European Union. That's quite a few countries. Sure, I could have counted the first time I visited Austria for five hours, but I didn't. I chose to wait to include it until I could spend more time there. So I went back two years later for another day trip. But I still wasn't satisfied. So I waited AGAIN until I visited Salzburg another year later for several days that I felt I comfortable to 'tick' it off my wanderlist. It wasn't a mechanism for sabatoge, not a mechanism to one-up someone else, but a mechanism for myself to track my goal progress. Not much different from someone who sets a weight loss goal, or a goal to reach a certain amount of miles run before a marathon (although mine requires a lot less actual running and calorie counting).
Counting countries is also a crucial tool for boosting credibility as a blogger. People are much more likely to listen to me and read my page if I tell them that I've visited 45 countries rather than just keep myself quiet. My goal is to inspire other people to travel, and if I can show others that traveling to 45 countries on a budget is possible, then who actually gives a shit about whether or not I got to know more than just my taxi driver in Slovakia or not.
Also, I AM AN ADULT. WOULD YA FANCY THAT. The feeling of getting that fresh passport stamp gives me as much of a high as the next guy (and if he says that it doesn't give him a high, he's straight up lying to you). But it's up to me, an independent, autonomous, STRONG INDEPENDENT ADULT WOMAN to decide whether or not I want to count a country based on my experience. If someone else wants to jet around the world, making a quick stop in each destination, and stay in their Hilton and only meet their taxi driver, and they have the money to do so and aren't harming anyone in the process, then more power to them. That's their prerogative.
We count calories. We count the number of Swedish Fish left in a bag (I have two left :'(. Obviously, not counting calories over here). We count number of romantic partners. We count our shoes. We count our money. We count miles ran. Counting your countries doesn't make you a dickhead. Turning your country counting into a dick measuring contest makes you a dickhead. And telling people what they should or should not count makes you a dickhead because who made you the boss of everything!? (obviously, when I say you. It's not directed at you. I probably don't even know you.)
Please travel blog community. Make me stop doing these rant posts. Because this is actually like my fifth one and I'm exhausted. XO.
(Dick count: 5. Sorry Mom and Dad).