On visiting 30 countries
I go through phases of wanting to count countries. When I first moved to the UK, it was definitely a GET TO AS MANY COUNTRIES AS POSSIBLE. I think coming from NZ where you have the option of basically 1 country that is within a 3 hour flight to then the UK where I can basically do about 30 countries within a 5 hour radius, it stokes the fires.
I was lucky as when I was growing up; I did a lot of travel. My first trip to Australia was when I was 5, then I spent most of my childhood bouncing around the UK, NZ, and America. Which gives great opportunity to stop off in places on the way. By the time I was 18, I’d ticked off: UK, NZ, Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Cook Islands, France, Spain and 20 of the US states. It was safe to say that all of this has permanently installed the travel bug in me.
Over the last couple of years, my approach to travel has changed. Rather than trying to fit 15 trips in a year of long weekends bouncing from country to country, I’ve slowed down. Don’t get me wrong, I still find it very exciting when I finally get to scratch something off my travel map, but I’ve found the joy in revisiting.
There is definitely a trend of trying to get to more countries, 30 before 30 is often referenced. And I think it’s a great thing, by ‘gamifying’ travel, it helps people travel more, and well I think travelling more is the best thing people can invest in.
But I think that we also need to value more the experience of really knowing and experiencing more of a country. This came to ahead when I posted on Instagram and asked about the whole ‘counting’ of countries. How long do you need to be in a Country before you count it? Does a day trip count? A long weekend? Hey, I definitely filter out the whole country stop over, but if you’re counting literal ‘my feet have been in this area of the world’ then you can definitely up the count. (And I mean, don’t even get me started on the whole, what do you count as a country – do you split the UK up?!).
I’ve learnt more in the past couple of years, the joy of the revisit. Obviously when I met Paul we had different travel experiences. He had done a lot of Asia but not a lot of Europe, whereas I was the other way around. Queue the need to actually revisit some of the places which I’ve really enjoyed. We jetted off to Berlin as I loved it and he hadn’t been. This gave me the opportunity to see a place from a different perspective, to do some of the things I hadn’t done before. Also Berlin was one of the first places I had visited when I moved over, so now seeing it 4 years later after visiting a lot more European cities really changed my perspective on the place.
The same thing happened with Paris, I went as a teen and loooved it. But then I went back and well, didn’t love it. So then I went back again and found a happy medium with my love for Paris. It’s only by visiting those few times that I really got the full experience of the city.
I’ve done the same thing lately with Portugal – a country which I loooove. I’ve now been 4 times covering Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve so I really feel as though I know more of the country as a whole. I’m seriously considering going back again – it’s just an awesome place to visit.
So I’ve hit 30 countries and I’m happy about it. I found something new and interesting in every country I visit, and some I will most definitely revisit time and time again. I think the rest of my travel plans will be a nice balance between the exploration of new countries and scratching off a new place, but I’m no longer afraid of having a whole year where I may not get anywhere new, but spend my time exploring some old gems.
So you know, here’s to the next 30, and hopefully revisiting some of the first 30 again and again!
What do you think about counting countries? Does it motivate you? Do you like a good revisit?
(As the blog primarily functions as my little old diary, I’m going to add a list of those 30 countries! Mainly so I can always find it when I need it…)
The first 30:
- New Zealand
- Cook Islands
- Hong Kong
- Vatican City
- The Netherlands
- Canary Islands
- Czech Republic
- Channel Islands