Passport Stamps

Why I Don’t Plan To Visit Every Country In The World

Derek Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice 119 Comments

Every Country In The World - Passport Stamps
As excited as I am when I first step foot into a country I’ve never visited before, I must not deny the fact that there is also a part of me that, these days, just wants to travel to countries that I’ve already been to, countries that I can’t get out of my mind because of the life-changing experiences I had during my first, or in some cases, second visit.

But it’s not always easy to do that because human beings love competition and when it comes to traveling, the most common competition (even if it’s not a formal one) tends to revolve around the ‘country count’, the overall number of countries that a traveler has visited. This number is brought up in many a conversation while on the road and of course, the higher the number, the more impressive a particular traveler appears (or thinks they appear).

After all, how can you call yourself a traveler if you’re not on a mission to see every country in the world before you die? Right?

Wrong. So very wrong.

I don’t now about you but I’m not on that mission at all. I personally don’t care if I visit every country in the world and I’m certainly not about to bounce around every continent, spending a day or two in most of the places I visit, just to say I’ve been there and to check each place off of a list.

That’s just not my travel style or goal. If that happens to be your goal, I have no problem with it at all of course and I certainly wish you success with your journey. I’m sure you’re going to have some amazing experiences wherever you go. It’s just not for me.

I’d much rather spend significant (or at least a decent amount of) time in fewer countries and even return to some of my favorite countries over and over again. To me, the benefit of travel has nothing to do with the number of different stamps in my passport, and if that means my final country count does not reach the official United Nations number of 193, or that I’ve visited fewer countries than someone who has been on the road for less time than me, then so be it.

As I was sitting on the subway in New York City the other day, traveling from the Upper West Side all the way over to Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, I noticed an advertisement on the subway wall. The ad was for the country of Iceland and there was a beautiful photograph of the Blue Lagoon. Looking at this photograph immediately brought back memories of my own visit to Iceland several years ago and it made me realize that I definitely want to visit this country again one day.

That got me thinking even more and before I knew it, there I was on the subway, wedged in between a guy who I swear might have been Samuel L. Jackson and another guy in red suspenders who seemed quite content licking stamps and placing them onto his pants, creating a mental list of some other countries I’ve already been to and that I’d really be interested in traveling to again.

Every Country In The World - Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The countries that came to mind are…

South Africa – Back in December, I was simply blown away by this country and less than twenty-four hours after my arrival, I had already promised myself that I would return soon. And I intend to keep that promise as there is still an abundance of cities, wine regions, wildlife reserves, townships, adventure activities, natural wonders, and more left for me to experience.

Mexico – Another country that one could travel around for a long, long time without ever getting bored. It’s as diverse a destination as there is on this planet and despite having spent almost two years there already, I’ve barely touched the surface.

Fiji – When I was 19 years old I visited Fiji while on my way to study abroad in Australia and I had such a wonderful time. This is why I was super-excited to return this week on the press trip I had been invited on. Unfortunately, that press trip was canceled but now I’m even more determined to return to Fiji as soon as I can.

Slovenia – It’s no secret that this is one of my favorite countries on the planet and despite it’s small size, I absolutely plan on returning for several more visits, at least!

India – All I can say about India is that I will never get tired of traveling to this country. And if I decided to spend the rest of my traveling years only wandering around India and nowhere else, I’d still be a very happy man.

Most likely, I will indeed visit these countries again, as well as several others that I’ve already spent time in. After all, I’ve already been to India nine times over the years, Thailand eight times, Australia five times, Turkey five times, Italy four times and I’ve been back and forth to Romania three times in the past five months, and on and on.

Had I wanted to, I probably could have seen every country in the world by now, but again, that’s just not my travel style. Spending more time in less countries has worked perfectly for me and brought me infinite rewards in terms of the connections I’ve made and the education I’ve gained. And I see no reason to change at this point.


What are your thoughts? Do you want to see every country in the world? Or do you prefer to spend more time in fewer countries as well?

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Comments 119

  1. Stephen

    Definitely agree with you. It’s important to stress quality over quantity.

    There definitely is a comfort in returning to places we’ve been and to experience that place at a different point in our life. We see it differently then–it’s valuable too. And it’s just fun sometimes to revisit those places and see old friends again.

    1. Earl

      Hey Stephen – I think the ‘fun’ aspect often gets overlooked. There doesn’t have to be a serious reason for everything in life. There’s nothing wrong with making sure we have some fun every now and then!

  2. Bama

    I couldn’t agree more. For me the experience is much more important than the number count. I will be happier to say that I’ve done A, eaten B, visited C, met incredible local people, experience local way of life in a small number of country rather than saying I’ve been to a lot of countries but only got the chance to do one or two things. BUT, it would be nicer if I can go to as many countries as I can AND go deeper into experiencing local cultures (well, that’ll take some time). 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Bama – It might take some time but you’ll get there 🙂 And based on your comment, wherever you end up going in your life, you’ll have plenty of meaningful experiences along the way. And that’s the most important thing!

  3. Robert

    I totally agree with you! Travelling is somenthing that comes to you accidentally There is right time for everything as well as for going to a country rather than to an other. So do not plan anything but just leave! Among your next destinations I’d go to South Africa and Indi, definitely!

  4. Christine

    Great post Earl! I tend to agree with you on traveling more slowly and taking the time to get to know about a place, its culture and people. I am very interested in history and will often study the history of a place and then ask questions when I have an opportunity to see how it is viewed by individuals from that country. I really enjoy learning more and getting the new perspective, especially as an American growing up where most history centered on the US as a nation, and when it was about another place, how we viewed it or how it affected us. I have met a few people who count countries and many would only have a day or two in a country, never mind a city. As you said, to each his/her own and everyone should do what they feel is best, but I don’t believe you can really know a place traveling in this manner, which for me is a huge part of/purpose for traveling. I lived abroad for five years and though at times it was frustrating (especially living in Korea, such a different culture, and working at the university with all Korean bosses who didn’t see things/priorities in the same way), but in London, England; Brussels, Belgium; Daegu, South Korea; and Antigua, Guatemala I had a length of time to understand a piece of the culture, politics, interests, their point of view, and to travel in the region to other countries, many of which I will go back to. I wouldn’t trade that for any number of countries on a ‘list’. I miss living abroad and am planning to do it for the rest of my life. I am gearing up now to make the break and expect to concentrate on one region at a time to start. Thanks again for sharing your view. I enjoyed your post and will definitely be reading more of your blog. Best, Christine

    1. Earl

      Hey Christine – That’s great that you plan to continue with this lifestyle. It just goes to show that slow travel can be just as addicting! Let me know if we’re ever in the same region as it would be great to meet up in person!

      1. Christine

        It is amazing you reply to all of your comments –that would make for a long work week 😉 Thank you for taking the time. It would be great to meet you and other travelers I follow in person at some point. I am in NH/MA at the moment for the next few months. I am then going to be moving to FL (Tampa Bay area) as a base (I am considering this a transition, as I still have some things to take care of here) and will start my travels in Central and South America, first going for a month or two at a time to study Spanish, do some shopping for goods to sell and general explorations and adventures to write about. I will be continuing my Masters courses while I travel as well. Let me know if you are getting up to Boston in the next few months or if you will be in FL or Central America at some point in 2012. I read your ‘About’ and I love that you went for three months and just never came home. So many people go and think ‘what if’ or ‘if only’, but they still get on that plane and go home! GOOD FOR YOU! I admire what you’ve done. I initially went for one year and didn’t come home for five, but you have me beat. I have read a few more of your posts, and I enjoy your articles, the creativity and the way you present the information in an educational/informative manner. You are an inspiration! It is also very well-written which cannot be said for many blogs. You have a great blog here and much talent! I look forward to following your continued travel adventures and experiences. Safe travels, Christine

        1. Earl

          Thanks for that Christine! And chances are I will be in either Florida or Boston at some point during the rest of the year (I’m actually in Florida right now visiting family but leave tomorrow for NYC and then to Europe). So I’m sure we’ll meet up somewhere!

          1. Christine

            So jealous on both counts! I <3 NYC, and was fortunate to have a couple of days there with a friend in March, and I really miss Europe. The year-and-a-half I lived in Brussels, Belgium is the most 'at home' I've ever felt in my life, and that includes the USA where I had lived for most of my life. Safe travels and have a fabulous time. I look forward to meeting you in person one day. In the mean time, I will be following your adventures with much interest and a bit of envy via your blog. Happy trails!

  5. André Malenfant

    Thank for saying that. I always have that little voice in my mind saying I should go to this country since I’m already on the other side of the planet. But the point is not to see it all but to have fun and see and experience great things. You can do that without visiting them all. Anyways, visiting the biggest city in a country, does it count?

    1. Earl

      Hey Andre – I’m quite familiar with that little voice too. And your question is a good one. In the end, I just remember that we can never experience an entire country and as long as we have a meaningful time wherever we end up, then we should be happy with that, whether we see one city or 100 cities in a country. But stopping in a country for one day and then checking it off a list just seems a bit absurd.

  6. Annette Mon

    It has always been a dream of mine to see every country in the world, but i have come to my realization that yes it is the title that makes it sound grand. I am half German and Peruvian, and find that visiting the countries you know and love never gets old nor tiring. I urge you to visit Peru though, its a very diverse and interesting country that has a lot to offer. The Titicaca river is quite fascinating as well as the Incan ruins spread out across the Andes.If you are looking at South American countries, i truly recommend Peru!

    p.s. this is incredible what you are doing, good luck!

    1. Earl

      Hey Annette – Thanks for the recommendation and I know that I will get to Peru at some point. It is one of the countries that I do want to visit and I will visit it on my next trip to South America!

  7. DJ Yabis

    I am on the same boat as you! In fact, I think I have also found my favorite region and would love to live and travel around it all my life. Europe!

    Super thumbs up on Iceland!

    1. Earl

      Hey DJ – Well, a person could definitely spend an entire lifetime in Europe! So much to see on that one continent alone. And I agree, thumbs up for Iceland indeed!

  8. Miruna

    I perfectly agree! I have few favorite countries myself where I would love to go back and I really don’t see the point of traveling just for the love of covering the whole world without even enjoy it. I feel attracted to Europe and India and I intend to discover them as much as I can in my short life. I’ve seen that you’ve visited Romania, I’m glad that you liked it, is my country and I love it.
    Regards,
    Looking forward for your travel stories!

    1. Earl

      Hey Miruna – Multumesc for the comment 🙂 I do enjoy Romania a lot and I’ll actually be returning to Bucharest in a couple of weeks. Are you still living in Romania?

  9. Sabrina

    I agree as well. Going to a country just to mark it off a list seems like missing the point. Taking the time to fall in love with a place and then returning there to soak it in seems like a better way. I like getting to know people in a place and it would be hard to do if I was in a rush to get elsewhere. Definitely more my style.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sabrina – It is very hard to make those kind of connections with people if we don’t spend much time in a place. That’s the reason I prefer to travel slowly as well!

  10. Vagabonnder

    Two to consider earl, the two that I dream of.. I wouldn’t mind going to Greenland, taking in the Arctic scenery and day changes..Eating whale in traditional dished in a restaurant in Nuuk the capital. Also, I’ve heard, but can’t comfirm Noumea, New Caledonia to be the biggest paradise on earth- France in the pacific ocean. Beautiful waters, architecture of Paris and the nice expatriate french young women

    1. Steve C

      Vagabonnder: I don’t know who you were talking to about New Caledonia, but I wouldn’t call it anything near a “Paradise on Earth”. It was our third stop on our RTW, and Noumea was nothing to write home about. Four days was more than enough. It was very high priced, much like Tahiti, as most places that are or were French usually are. It doesn’t have the architecture of Paris, nothing close! Talk about places I like to return to one day, this is at the bottom of my list. But don’t take my word for it! Sure would like to get your take on it after you’ve been there. lol

  11. Nate @yomadic

    I agree with your sentiments, Earl.

    Although I love seeing new countries for the first time, I enjoy visiting old favourites just as much. I just kind of go where the wind takes me, I’m not known for my meticulous travel plans (understatement of the decade).

    Sometime this year, I should visit my 40th country.

    However, the next country I will be visiting, where I plan to spend a month, I have already been there about 7 times (or is it 8, I don’t count).

    Oh – I just has an idea for a blog post, I’m going to do it right now.

    1. Earl

      Hey Nate – Being flexible and allowing ourselves to decide whether or not to stick around a particular destination for a while or just have a short visit is key to having the most rewarding experiences I believe. And I’m quite a terrible planner as well and I don’t mind it at all. I actually prefer it over trying to make detailed plans for every destination I visit.

      I shall look forward to reading your blog post, whatever the idea is that you came up with!

  12. Spencer

    Whilst there is alot of the world I would love to see there are also some places that do not appeal to me. So its definitely fewer places but in more detail as far as I am concerned.

  13. Bryan

    It is more of a daydream of mine to make it to each and every country on earth than an actual goal. I think it would be fun to say that you’ve been to every country, but I agree with you that it makes more sense to spend time in places that you enjoy the most.

    1. Earl

      Hey Bryan – At the end of the day, I think most people would agree that it would be quite cool to say that we’ve been to every country. I certainly would admit that! But in reality, for those who want to really understand a country, like you said, seeing all of them isn’t too feasible.

  14. Forest

    I’m with you Earl :). Still I have not done South East Asia and India yet and I need to get them done!

    Oh, on an Indian note how long can you stay on a standard visa for an American?

    1. Earl

      Hey Forest – Americans usually get a 6-month visa for India, however, the validity starts the day the visa is issued. So you want to make sure that you get the visa as close as possible to your arrival date in India in order to make the most of it!

  15. Travis

    Lots of different angles to consider on this one but, to weigh in, I would have to say that I do enjoy visiting new countries even if it is just during a layover or something. You might say I’m of a buffet kind of guy. In fact, that’s my favourite style of restaurant simply because you can eat a little bit of everything then go back for seconds on the stuff you really enjoyed. Obviously, countries are significantly more complex than food but, just like food, each country has its own flavour, more or less. Also, Like Steve C (above) says, sometimes you just get a lust for the next place so, while it’s nice to have a sort of headquarters to base yourself from, I think Tim Ferris with his book “The 4-hour Workweek” talking about “mini-retirements” has the right idea – many short experiences can be as, or even more valuable than longer term exposure to one particular situation. I’m currently living in Adelaide, Australia and this last weekend I took a trip to Brisbane. I didn’t have much time to really see much but I found that I actually preferred Adelaide so maybe next time I’ll try Perth or Darwin to see if they are more interesting. After taste-testing a few places I’ll likely revisit some but in the end there’s so many other opportunities and so little time (life has a way of getting in the way). It’s just really stimulating to experience a new culture for the first time and, for me, nothing beats it. Though, I’ve never experienced culture shock (constantly having to adapt my way of thinking doesn’t bother me) so maybe that’s a contributing factor for some?

    1. Earl

      Hey Travis – I’m definitely not saying that we shouldn’t visit new countries, not at all. There are plenty of new countries that I want to get to myself. My point in the post was just that if we do feel like returning to a country that we had a connection with the first time, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

      Everyone finds their own style and some people prefer longer stays and others prefer shorter stays. As for me, the mini-retirements aren’t as attractive as I find the personal connections I make with people to be the most rewarding aspect of my travels. And I would not be able to make such strong connections if I only stuck around a place for a short time.

      But again, everyone’s different and I believe in the value of travel no matter what the actual style!

  16. Mica

    I get so excited sometimes at all the places I have yet to visit that I feel like I still have a lot to see. That being said, I understand as well the need to go back to certain places.
    The beauty of everyone having a personal journey means we’ll all experience things and get an urge to return to places we felt a good connection with. I have several places one in particular I feel that way about (Peru).
    I really don’t care to count either, I travel for the experience not the bragging rights.

    1. Earl

      Hey Mica – That is the beauty of it indeed…and as far as I’m concerned, I’m just happy to hear about others who are traveling. I’m not one to say how someone should carry out their journey but hopefully those who do enjoy returning to the same places don’t feel bad about doing so. That’s just as acceptable as any other form of travel!

  17. Lisa @chickybus

    What you’re saying totally makes sense to me. I feel the same way re: Mexico and also Turkey, by the way. Some countries are worth multiple visits and the idea of “country counting” is not my cup of tea.

    1. Earl

      Hey Lisa – I’m definitely not surprised by your comment and I guess I shall look forward to meet up with you in either Mexico or Turkey one day!

  18. Tash

    Totally agree, ticking through countries without getting a feel for a place or culture is totally pointless….surely the point of travel is to learn from other peoples, other lands, and other ways of living….wizzing through for a passport stamp just doesn’t give you that!
    Interesting about the re-visit ideas. There are a few places that I am keen to return to, too. But getting to experience new places is also very high on my list of things I want to do! I guess it’s about finding the balance – or maybe just clever ways to do it all!!

    1. Earl

      Hey Tash – Education is definitely the major reason why I travel and while it’s obviously fine to pop into a country for a quick peek, it seems a bit strange to say we’ve visited a particular destination after such a short stay. Finding that balance is key…and it’s great to know that we can each find it in a completely different way!

  19. Cindy Thistle

    I’m with you on this one Earl. I’m currently on my fourth house sit in almost a year and already I’ve made plans to revisit the first two. While I did chalk up a lot of “firsts” on both visits; the thought of reconnecting with precious friends made the first time around seems to outweigh the need to discover completely new environments all the time. I have also found that no matter how long you’re in a place there’s always something “new” or “yet to be discovered” anyway. How many times have you heard a local say “You did that? I’ve lived here xxx years and I haven’t been there yet. What’s it like?”

    Do you find that more stamps in your passports equals more questions and time spent in customs and immigration counters? Just curious.

    1. Earl

      Hey Cindy – That’s so true, that is a statement that we hear locals say very often! And reconnecting with friends is definitely a major advantage of returning to our favorite destinations or spending longer periods of time in them. It’s hard to have such strong bonds when we don’t stick around in one place for very long.

      And yes, the more I travel, the more I am generally questioned at customs and immigration. Sometimes I get lucky and don’t get any questions but other times they flip through my entire passport and ask me about many of the stamps and countries I’ve visited.

  20. Marina

    I’m in complete agreement. I’ve always loved to travel, but lately I’ve been enjoying the experience of being an ex-pat. The longer you stay in one place, the more you get out of it. And, frankly, the more interesting you are as a writer and blogger. I see tons of links on Twitter all day “see my picture” or “top 5 whatever” but they aren’t particularly insightful or interesting links. Bouncing around from hostel to hostel is definitely an experience, but I value the insight offered by long-term stays in one place (and return visits).

    1. Earl

      Hey Marina – I’m getting used to the ‘ex-pat’ experience as well which is why I’m been spending long periods of time in certain places as of late. It does give us a much deeper understanding of a city or country and that deeper understanding can be quite addicting. These days, I’d prefer that over a quick skim through a country any day!

  21. Charu

    I often say that you can find a terrific travel story in your own backyard! So yes to your post. But visiting more varied countries is my goal…so I hope to have deep and meaningful experiences no matter where I visit…Good points, Earl.

    1. Earl

      Hey Stephanie – There’s no such thing as traveling ‘too slow’ but I know what you mean 🙂 And as long as you’re enjoying your travel style, then there’s no need to change!

  22. Joseph

    My own personal opinion – I’d rather spend considerable time in a single country, and see how people live, eat, breathe, etc. than country-hop simply to brag that I’ve been to “x” number. Seriously, whom should I brag to? For my own peace of mind, I’ve selected a few countries I would definitely see, and to some I would return in a heartbeat (top of the list is USA, and if all goes according to my plan, this summer the dream will come true). Whenever I travel to Budapest for instance (been there around 13 times), I always feel at home, and still, there are things there I discover every time. That’s the beauty of it. Like you said, it’s not a race. It’s my time, and I will spend it as I see it fit 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Joseph – That’s great news that you might be headed to the USA this summer! I sure hope that it all works out for you. And your last line says it all…we are all free to spend our time on this planet as we see fit and when it comes to travel, I really do feel that as long as we’re out there seeing the world in some manner, how we do it exactly isn’t so important.

  23. Chris Booth

    Too right, there’s no need to ‘bag’ every country just for the hell of it. I’ve been reading a blog for 3 years where one guy is trying to visit every country on earth by land and sea alone – setting a world record in the process. Whilst it’s a brilliant read and really inspiring it’s certainly not the way I would ever want to travel. Sometimes it feels exhausting just reading that kind of blog. You can get a nice first impression of a place with a weekend jaunt but I don’t think you can ever get close to understanding another culture in just a few days. But then he’s not ‘traveling’ as we would understand it, he’s trying to raise awareness for a charity and snatch a pretty damned amazing world record at the same time!

    Completely agree on the overwhelming desire to revisit places. Barcelona constantly calls to me to revisit, and even though I’ve not been to Spain for 6 years I know I’ll go there again. A place I’ve only been once is Japan, for three weeks, but I think I could spend many years exploring every nook and cranny, it’s too amazing not to.

    The motivation to keep ticking off new countries must stem from the hope that you will find somewhere even better than the last place you prowled? It can’t be down to oneupmanship alone, can it?

    1. Earl

      Hey Chris – What is the name of the blog that you mentioned? I’d love to check that out myself. Seems like quite an amazing adventure that guy is on!

  24. Claudia

    I definetely agree with you. I’ve had my best travel experiences in the countries that I visited for a longer period. I would love to go back to Nepal, New Zealand, China, Italy, Mexico.. I do recognize the feeling of ‘I must visited a new country instead of going back to somewhere I’ve been before.’ But one of the major things I’ve learned from traveling around the world is that I always have to follow my gut feeling and don’t force myself into a new country anymore. If I feel like going back, or staying a little longer, that’s what I should do.

    1. Earl

      Hey Claudia – That’s spot on…forcing ourselves to travel somewhere is never a good idea. We should travel to the places that call out to us as that will always lead to the most rewarding experiences!

  25. Steve C

    Earl, once again you’ve got a quality bunch of commenters.

    After many years of wandering, you’d think I would have an opinion one way or the other on this topic. On one hand, I have a lust for the next one. But on the other, I like to go slow and return sometimes for a second opinion. Although I’ve “bagged” 60 countries, I’ve also made 18 different trips to Mexico.

    I’m basically curious and love to just wander. On the other hand, I have certain goals that keep me going. I can’t get enough ruin sites or World Heritage Sites. I’m really into how humans make things in different countries and cultures, such as: places of worship, bridges, family homes, boats, etc. I like to talk to local people while I’m seeing these sites and get their take on them. So, you might say I’m focused, but in a meandering way.

    Also, there’s the food! That’s another good reason to keep going to another country. But, as for seeing all 196, (the present count I guess) It’s not my goal. There’s still even one continent I have no desire to see: Antarctica.

    You might say that I’ve got a reason to keep on seeing more and more countries. They’re like people, there’s no two alike! Or, I’m just another travel addict, wondering what’s around the next bend in the road.

    1. Earl

      Hey Steve – There are definitely some excellent comments on this post! And I agree with you of course…I’m not against visiting new countries or even visiting as many countries as we possibly can. I just want people to travel however they want to travel and if they are perfectly happy re-visiting the same countries over and over again, then they should feel comfortable doing that.

      I still plan on visiting dozens of new countries myself, and I can’t wait to visit them, but I’m also glad that I’ve come to terms with the ‘guilt’ travelers sometimes feel about returning to their favorite destinations 🙂

      On the other hand, 18 trips to Mexico is definitely impressive!

  26. Pamela

    I couldn’t agree more!!! When I planned my second trip to Belize a friend asked me why I wanted to go back. I had just been there the year before. She suggested I try something else. Not only did I love it the second time, I can’t wait for the third. The same friend also doesn’t understand why I’ve gone to Mexico more times than I can count. We are all different…we all love different things…and we all have our own definition of travel. I even consider weekend jaunts to neighboring states and cities travel. To me it’s all about the adventure and having new (and fun) experiences.

    1. Earl

      Hey Pamela – I always figure that if we travel to the places that we are really attracted to, even if we’ve been there before, we’re on the right track. Just because there are more countries out there doesn’t mean that we must see them!

  27. Davie Pocstar

    When I started my travels 11 months ago, my gap year plan was to visit 15 countries in 12 months. After Thailand, my second stop, I quickly switched gears and put away the original itinerary. I realized I didn’t want to ‘check’ countries off my list. Since then, I’ve been slow traveling and have revisited countries 2-3 times, often staying for a few months to experience local culture.

    So, 11 months later, I am still in SE Asia and loving every minute of it. I now live more in the moment. I live by the hour. Tomorrow is a lifetime away.

    1. Earl

      Hey Davie – That’s such a great attitude towards travel and I think that happens a lot…we start off wanting to see ‘everything’ and end up realizing that slower travel is far more rewarding! Keep on enjoying your time in Asia and I appreciate the comment!

  28. janet

    right on! I definitely would LOVE to travel to India again. I’ve only been to 5 countries which is hardly any for a ‘traveler’. I definitely want to see more of SE Asia, and then Japan and Greece. But definitely back to India..

    Then there are the countries people don’t normally really think of but I’d like to visit cos I have friends or relatives there. Like Qatar and Armenia.

    1. Earl

      Hey Janet – Five countries is more than most people on this planet and sure qualifies as a traveler to me! And if you do make it back to India, let me know…I just might have to join you there!

  29. Kevin Post

    Who cares about some arbitrary number of countries one has visited. I’m more impressed with travelers who’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the countries they have visited not, “I spent two days in X, and five days in Y! Check!” Quality vs quantity.

    A good example is a friend of mine who hiked from Mexico to Canada twice via the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. One took four months and the other five months of walking/hiking. He hasn’t traveled much outside North America but he has seen and traveled further than most world travelers.

    This is also why I find those, “Where I’ve been maps” to be ridiculous. If I were to visit let’s say Moscow and a little bit surrounding the city the entire country of Russia turns red, green, blue, etc. Sure, going to Moscow is technically visiting Russia but to say that you’ve only been to that city does not represent the rest of the country, geography and cultural diversity.

    1. Earl

      Hey Kevin – That must have been an amazing hike that your friend went on (twice)…I’d love to do that at some point myself. And those maps are definitely nothing more than a basic reference. I have one on the home page of the site but it is difficult to decide which countries to color in. You won’t find me coloring in China, for example, after my visit to Hong Kong!

  30. Dyanne@TravelnLass

    It IS tough to choose to slow down rather than race pell-mell ’round the Planet. Not so much to add another notch to some silly “country” belt, but rather – simply to experience a new country’s people, culture, landscapes and food in depth. I mean – how do I know that I won’t ADORE the next new country? Tough. ‘Cuz I’ve been wandering the globe for 30+ years now and each new country has been a totally unique experience – each like no other.

    Then again, s-l-o-w travel is ever so rewarding. I didn’t just pass through Paris and Rome, I opted to LIVE there for months and still didn’t experience all I would like. So enchanted with Central America, I made DOZENS of trips to Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, et al.

    And now… here I sit, in my 6th month in Vietnam and (with but a quick foray to Sumatra for the holidays) I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the many unique corners here. I’m starting to get the itch though, and am presently planning a month volunteering in Mongolia, before settling back down again here amid the cool highlands of Dalat.

    In short, ’tis mighty tough. Such a deliciously dizzying globe we have to explore – alas in but one lifetime. Definitely tempting to spend it racing about taking quick peeks to see what each unique country is like (ya never know til you see for yourself, after all). But also, ever so satisfying to slow down and get to know a few really well.

    Decisions, decisions…

    1. Earl

      Hey Dyanne – Quite a dilemma it is! But I think you’re doing a mighty fine job of it so far. We should visit new countries during our travels but then, once we arrive in each destination we are free to decide if we want to stay for a long time or spend just a shorter time there. And whatever we choose, that’s perfectly fine. There have been some countries that I haven’t felt like spending more than a week or two in, while others I couldn’t imagine leaving before I lived there for at least 6 months. Just as you said, we have to see each country for ourselves and then see where it takes us…

  31. Stephanie

    I know a bunch of people who say their travel rule is that they never visit a place twice because there is so much to see, but like you, although I get excited about a country I have never been to before, it’s really a few countries I have a deep love affair with, and I would be happy going back to only those for the rest of my life.

    1. Earl

      Hey Stephanie – Well, if you’re happy going back to those countries, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with that! It’s exactly why I know I’ll be returning to India many more times over the years.

  32. Roy Marvelous

    I hear you Earl. When I started traveling 8 years ago, I was all about the country count. A couple of years ago when I hit 40 countries, I realized that I didn’t care about counting that much anymore and that I’m not actually interested in visiting many countries in the world. I guess I’m bored of the “one-night stand” style of travel 😉

    I rather re-visit so many of the countries I love and have a deeper connection with. Having said that, there are still a bunch which I want to see but have yet to see!

    1. Earl

      Hey Roy – What I didn’t mention in the post is that I was about the country count as well when I first started. It didn’t last long though as, just like you, that style of travel got old quickly. I like you label of the ‘one-night stand’ style of travel…it’s a perfect fit 🙂

  33. Amanda

    I’m totally with you on this one, Earl! I’ve only been to maybe 10 countries so far, yet I’ve been to New Zealand 3 times!

    There are some countries I just LOVE and will always return to, some I really want to eventually see, and some that, honestly, I don’t care if I ever visit.

    The great thing about travel is that there’s no “right” way to do it. You can revisit places as much as you want! I certainly won’t care if you don’t get to all 193.

    1. Earl

      Hey Amanda – Haha…you really do LOVE New Zealand 🙂 And there is no ‘right’ way at all…every way is the right way as long as we are traveling exactly how we want to be traveling!

  34. Dean

    Couldn’t agree more Earl. I have no desire to see every country in the world and I don’t really understand these “country counters”. I’ve met a few of these people who just talk about how many countries they’ve visited. I prefer to talk about all of the experiences I’ve had, because I think that’s what counts.

    1. Earl

      Hey Dean – That’s the thing. I don’t mind having a goal of seeing every country (and if the opportunity arose, I would do it as well) but when the focus is strictly on the number of countries instead of the actual experiences, then I just don’t see the point.

    1. Earl

      Hey Shane – Be careful…I don’t think you really want to spend much time sitting next to that guy. If I hadn’t reached my subway stop, he might have begun placing stamps on my leg as well.

  35. Phil

    Hey Earl,
    With you 100%. I think it can really turn into an ego thing with some people, and while I can’t judge anyone for traveling how they want, I always wonder if, deep down, they will ever be satisfied. But whatever, that’s for them to decide. For me, I see myself looping back between the same countries for a long time. I hope to add a few into the mix, but I won’t be that upset if I don’t.

    1. Earl

      Hey Phil – That is for them decide in the end and luckily, we all get to choose our own style of travel. And if we could all learn as much about the countries we visit as you seem to have learned about the African countries you’ve spent time in, this world would definitely be a better place.

  36. Melissa Anderson

    There is no country on this planet that I don’t want to visit (even though some I can’t even pronounce), but rushing around and not experiencing the culture and atmosphere of a new country is not at all appealing. I will take whatever travel opportunities that come my way, even if a certain place isn’t on my ‘list’ of places to visit, because you never know what amazing experiences await you…

    My travel style is a bit different than yours, because traveling to see nature is more appealing than traveling to cities for me.

    1. Earl

      Hey Melissa – That is not appealing to me either. And I actually prefer to spend a great deal of time in nature as opposed to cities, which I don’t usually enjoy. But because of my current online projects, I do need a decent setup in order to do my work and cities tend to provide the best facilities. But when I’m not concentrating so much on work, you’ll find me in nature for sure 🙂

  37. Sophie

    Hi Earl, thanks for your fresh perspective on RTW travel. Guess I’m not di strange for having a limited yet flexible list of places I am most attracted to visit whereas others don’t interest me at all.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sophie – You’re not strange at all and I think if we are all honest, there are probably some countries that each of us aren’t really too interested in visiting 🙂

  38. Dave

    I couldn’t agree more, but I still find myself susceptible to wanting to increase my “country count” to keep up with other bloggers. The fact that I’m slowing down as I creep toward the later side of my mid-30’s doesn’t help 🙂

    I think part of it’s human nature, and the other part is that I know live most of my life within the sphere of other hardcore travelers, be they professional writers, bloggers, PR people and so on. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dave – It must be a mid-30s thing since it seems we’re in the same age bracket 🙂 I do agree that an increased country count does give us a sense of accomplishment and I too enjoy watching my number increase. But it certainly doesn’t control my travels. If the number goes up, great, if not, that’s fine too!

  39. Imperator

    Earl, fully agree… I’ve been to 87 countries (88th soon :), but I would have done much more if this would be my focus… but I love to come back. I’ve been 4-5 times to China, 2-3 times to Thailand, dozens of times to Italy or many other places… I like to see the changes, their evolution. And a place I really want to come back is Iran which I felt probably the best on the planet… because of the people.

    1. Earl

      @Imperator – That’s a great point about observing the evolution of a place. It’s not as if returning to a country gives us the exact same experiences as we had the first time. We have different experiences and we learn new things with every visit!

  40. Talon

    I wholeheartedly agree for many of the same reasons. Plus, there are just some countries I’m simply not that interesting in seeing. For me it isn’t about bragging rights or competition. I travel to explore, to learn, to experience. When I hear someone mention a country I’ve visited, immediately I recall the things I loved about being there, the people I met, the parts of the culture that really stood out to me. I wouldn’t be able to do that with a 2-day stay just to check it off a list. I’ve been to fewer countries than many in the travel community, but I’ve also experienced things that many haven’t just because I stayed there longer, returned, got off the beaten path, etc.

    1. Earl

      Hey Talon – I knew you’d agree! And I have no doubt you’ve had some incredible experiences that simply wouldn’t have been possible had you not been traveling at your current pace. Some travelers might have traveled the length of Latin America, across Europe and around Asia in the amount of time you’ve been in Latin America only 🙂

  41. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    all I can say is that I’ve been abroad only 3 times, 2 times were to the same country. Why? I just fell inlove with it the first time that much!

    And while I’ve technically been into France (I crossed the borders from Spain) I wouldn’t check it off my list for spending there 24 hours (Although I have drank coffee from a bowl like they do!) lol

    I would certainly love to see as many countries as I can in my life time, but I don’t care if I get stamped from them all, all I care about is to really see the country I go to.

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – Seems like we share similar views about this! There’s nothing wrong with returning to a country you already visited. If you fall in love with a place, then why not spend more time there? It seems quite reasonable to me!

  42. Scott

    I agree with Gigi…I will not visit a country where women are treated poorly. I also will not visit anywhere where gays are persecuted. I will not spend one dime in a country that treats either of those groups poorly. So, for instance, Russia is off my list…no matter how badly I want to go there. I would never have visited South Africa under Apartheid, but now can.
    I am hopeful that some of these countries will change their views, but until then, I will spend and enjoy time where all are treated with respect.

    1. Earl

      Hey Scott – I can definitely understand your reasoning for not wanting to travel to certain countries. Sadly, I don’t think there is a single country on the planet where everyone is treated with respect. I haven’t come across any at least. Even if it is not government-sponsored, discrimination is unfortunately all over the place. Hopefully that will change eventually.

  43. Giulia

    I must say until a few years ago I was thinking I wanted to visit every country on Earth, but then I realized it’s impossible. Not because it’s impossible to phisically go to each country, but because it’s impossible not to go back to some countries if we travel with the goal of fitting in, and live as a local, then it’s inevitable that we want to spend more time there.

    Every time I plan to go back to Egypt, something in my mind tells me “come on, you’ve been there a zillion times, go somewhere you’ve never been!”. But no, that’s not important. If that place makes me feel so good, I will keep going back anytime I want and can, and maybe I will also move there for good at some point.

    Of course I want to see more places, and the “stamps count” on my passport is exciting and all, but I also have a “top 10” sort of list of countries I really want to see and spend a considerable amount of time in, and if I won’t ever see the other ones, well, whatever.

    The only thought that makes me think “maybe I should check them all out” is that as much as I was not interested in Egypt at all before going for the first time, who knows if there’s some other country in the world that I don’t really care about, but is waiting for my random visit to make me fall in love?

    Well, I guess I’ll find out at some point. But I don’t want to stress too much about it. 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Giulia – It seems like you have the same thoughts about re-visiting Egypt as I do about returning to India over and over again! And you’re right, it’s not important if we go to a new country or a country we’ve been to before. What’s important is that we make the most out of our travel experiences and try to learn as much as possible, no matter where we end up. And a combination of visiting some new countries and returning to our favorites seems like an ideal way to see this world 🙂

  44. Mikaela

    I hope to visit every part of the world (every continent), but that leaves a lot of alternatives and makes it possible to still focus on a few countries 🙂 Your text about SouthAfrica also just made me more excited. Take off in 2 days! 😀

    1. Earl

      Hey Mikaela – That’s wonderful and I wish you such a great adventure in South Africa!! There’s just so much to do and see down there that it’s very difficult not to have an amazing time 🙂

  45. Andrew

    Strange coincidence you posted this, as I’ve been thinking along the same lines. If someone’s goal is to have every countries stamp in their passport, then fair enough.

    But when you say you’ve been to.. Indonesia for example, I’m more interested in what your favourite food was, or funniest moment with a local, or how they say hello, or what religion they are and if you went along to check it out.

    You know, are their tuk-tuks fun, do they have good busses. Not stating the obvious, but definitely more interested in someone’s travel through a country versus the passport stamp tally.

    (which is why I think your blog is unique)

    1. Earl

      Hey Andrew – Those aspects of travel are definitely more important to me as well. And that’s probably why I usually don’t connect too well with travelers who are more interested in passport stamp collecting.

      See you in 10 days and safe travels in Turkey for now!

  46. Gigi

    Interesting! I’m glad you posted this. While I do have a very strong desire to see new things and check countries off my invisible checklist, there are some places that I simply have no interest in seeing (mostly, to be honest, countries where there is bad treatment or frequent harassment of women. That, I am over).

    And I’m with you in that I’d rather explore a place in depth than spend two days in every major city in the world. My favorite trips have all been longer stints in the same (or a couple neighboring) countries.

    Now you’ve got me wanting to go back to Italy, South Africa, Australia, and Switzerland.

    1. Earl

      Hey Gigi – Well, if that’s where you want to go back to, then that’s where you should return! I know it can be tough though, deciding between new countries and countries we’ve already visited. I just look at it as a win-win situation so no matter where I end up, it will always be a positive experience.

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