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Why Counting Your Countries Doesn’t Always Make You A D*ck

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Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos

“365 countries, 12 continents, 1 billion cities, 2 planets, and counting!”

…one might read on a douchey traveler’s Instagram bio.

There’s always a heavy debate within the travel community about why you should or shouldn’t count your countries. And even if you secretly did, why that number doesn’t need to be flaunted around like a status symbol.

Some people even shout out their numbers as if it were in direct correlation with their manhood, and if so, let me be the first to announce that I just might have a 30-inch schlong. While flaccid. #blessed

Because that’s my country count, and oops, I’m guilty of having that in my media kits, Instagram and Twitter bios.

But as a travel blogger, it’s slightly relevant information for potential brands or followers wanting to know the extent of my travels.

Paris, France
Paris, France

It just gets ugly and counterproductive when people use it as a one-upping mechanism to see who the better traveler is. Who’s more open-minded? Who’s racked up the most mileage, and therefore fits all the coveted HASHTAG, GOALS.

Just like one’s body count, it’s really not that serious. And if you feel like that number validates you as a person or traveler, let me be the millionth first to say, good for you. I won’t knock it!

Because I have to admit, when I meet travelers on the road who’ve been traveling for ‘x’ amount of years, I’m always curious how much mileage they’ve racked up along the way.

Not so we can compare, but so I can put their journey in context.

Someone traveling for 5 years, but living in between two countries on the same continent, will have a much different experience than someone else who’s traveled for those same 5 years, but instead bounced around 20 countries on 3 continents.

No offense, but I want to pick the brains of the latter.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Your country count makes you more interesting to me, because I tend to fill in higher numbers with more exotic stories, crazier adventures, and unspoken regrets.

There’s so much more room for risks, failures, and inevitable trouble when you’ve covered more territory around the world. And damnit, I wanna know about it!

So while we’re not all d*cks for putting our country count out there, allow me to introduce you to a breed of travelers who are counting their inches countries, for more significant reasons.

1. To compare yourself to… yourself.

Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland

Remember when you took your first solo trip? You were so cute. Probably lost your passport two hours before your flight. Bag was like ten pounds overweight. Maybe so were you? Ha, I kid, I kid.

But you probably stayed at a hostel that might’ve doubled as a brothel, because why check reviews beforehand? That’s too much adulting for your toddler-operating mentality.

You might’ve even fallen into a tourist trap and spent way more money on something that a local could’ve taken you to for free.

The reality is that you grow so much with every trip you take — both as a more travel-savvy person and hopefully a more understanding, cultured, and knowledgeable one as well, as you start piecing together history in the context of your travels.

But let me add that traveling does not automatically make you more open-minded either. You have to meet the paradigm shift halfway and allow your mind to open up to the experiences, because that definitely doesn’t happen intuitively.

2. To better plan your travels.

Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

If you’ve got a 3-month holiday that you want to spend traveling the world, and you want to see as much as possible, it helps to divvy off countries by the continent.

To have a more thorough experience of more cultures, one might aim for 4-5 countries across three continents.

They’ll have a balanced experience spending a week in each country, and they’ll feel like they had a fair amount of exploring in more than one continent.

We’re a species obsessed with numbers, but not just for any reason. They help organize our lives, and specifically, our travels.

3. You have a goal in mind.

Toledo, Spain
Toledo, Spain

I’ve met a handful of people who legitimately have a goal to visit every country in the world, like my boy Lee Abbamonte, who was the youngest American to do so.

Drew Binsky of and Jessica Elliott of are both young, crazy, and adventurous souls who are currently on said mission.

Now, it doesn’t have to be a race, but it’s a pretty cool bragging right to say when it’s all said and done.

Some people strive to reach the 30 [countries] before [age] 30 mark, which is equally impressive to me, because some people (who have the means to travel) spend all their lives only exploring one. So I absolutely applaud and admire those who do otherwise, if that’s something they want out of life.

I tinkered around with the idea of possibly trying to visit every country in the world, but the honest to God truth is that not every place appeals to me. And as I’ve fallen in love with certain regions of the world, I quite enjoy revisiting the same places and getting to rediscover familiar territory again while also reconnecting with familiar faces.

The century club, on the other hand, is a definite goal I think I could reach before 30 (I’m 25 now).

4. You’re in the travel industry and it kinda, sorta, really matters.

Hue, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam

Again, people lie, but numbers don’t. And when they’re used in a context of analyzing someone’s travel background for potential work or collaborations, it’s sometimes necessary.

There are millions of people who travel, who have incredible Instagram galleries, and who think their experiences are more unique than the next person’s. And while they just might be, a country count might help corroborate their point.

And when it comes to dating, men seem to feel like money is what gives them the edge. A couple times I was told how much money a guy made on a first date, and I just wondered if he got a hard-on from hearing himself say that. Because it definitely didn’t do anything for me, as I felt my body go Sahara-Desert-dry on that comment. Just, no.

Money is so transient and deceiving. So don’t tell me how much money you have; tell me how much you’ve traveled. I’ll get a better grasp of who you are that way.

5. You’re a grown A$% person and basically, you can do what you want.

Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro

Ahhh, yes. Perhaps my favorite reason. By way of adulthood and this thing called “doing whatever the hell you want” I think this pardons country-counting as well.

People who don’t fit the d*ck category could have dozens of reasons as to why they want to quantify their travels, and if you want to knock them for that, that’s your prerogative, but it personally couldn’t bother me less.

So whatever reason you do or don’t put a number on your travels, let’s just all agree that if you’re committing the unspoken crime of counting airports and 1-hour layover stops, then you my friend, maybe, basically, definitely might just fit the bill of the d*ck in question.

Do you count your countries? Or are you clueless as to how many territories you’ve crossed? I wanna know! Drop your commentary below!

  • Hannah Logan

    You said it girl- from another country counter! Ahem: 35 in 4 years- aiming for 50 before 30… at least 😉

    • Jessica Elliott

      I dare you 😉

      • Hannah Logan

        Dare accepted 😉

  • Bethaney

    I started counting countries with a goal to getting to 100 before 40. On my 30th birthday, I realised that despite almost 10 years of travel I’d only been to 22 countries because I’d gotten into the bad habit of just returning to the places that I love. (12 trips to Thailand and 4 to Italy alone!) I think it’s good to have goals, not competing against other people, just myself.

    • Jessica Elliott

      I love this Bethaney! This is exactly why I don’t believe in bucket lists. I think people make lists from things other people say are important and then feel unfulfilled. If you love Thailand want to go there a sh*t ton, then do it! (and so glad you love it because I just got here a few hours ago)

  • LOL at airports don’t count tag. Great read, I personally count because I want to reach thirty by thirty as well 😃

  • crvena66

    I am not in the travel industry, so I have a different perspective.

    I would rather focus on one region and really get to know it. I could go to a bunch of different places, and that is cool, (even fantastic, depending on your goal) but it is really not my goal or desire to focus on quantity over quality. So I am choosing one city as a hub (Zagreb) one country (Croatia) one region (the Balkans and South Central Europe) and one continent (Europe) as a primary destination. It could take years for me to fully take it all in, but not as a tourist.

    So let’s say I know how to find a good place to stay, how to not lose my passport, how to use the public transit system and speak a few phrases to get me by (or enough to make me dangerous) and the best places to go for coffee. I will make fewer rookie mistakes. Great. These are about the experience of travel for its own sake, not about culture or depth or becoming an expert on a specific place and feeling at home instead of a perpetual camper (which again, is cool, but not my goal)

    I can branch out geographically from there. Sure, I could go to Central America next year, but if my goal is to learn a language and get to know a place intimately, why would I waste resources going somewhere else right now? To be a little crude or sassy or whatever: You can have a big dick and f#@k a lot of people, but in the end, it’s what you do with it, the quality and depth of the experience, that counts, to me. Same with learning languages. Maybe in 10 years i will do the same with Asia, who knows. But there is more than one way to go about world travel, I think, even if I do not do it professionally.

  • Lauren Haas

    I don’t count, but last time Trip Advisor or someone counted it up for me, I was at 25 and that was a couple of countries ago. I should probably count them up again, I always feel stupid when people ask and I don’t know the answer.

    I don’t object to other people counting or think it’s dickish at all though — unless it’s part of a materialistic overall approach to travel. You know, those people who collect travel experiences instead of designer shoes. They’re the ones who ask “Well, have you been here? Did you do this? Have you seen that?” and, my personal favorite, “Oh, if you’re in _______ you MUST visit _______.”

  • Lauren (

    I think the length/reason for stay is more important than numbers. If someone travels to 8 countries for work, but spends only 3-5 days in and out of meetings the whole time, I’d think their stay would be less engaging than a person who has only ever spent one week volunteering in Guatemala or backpacking across Spain, etc.

  • I go back to the places I love often, so adding to the number of different countries is not a priority for me. I’ve never gone to a country just to say I’ve been there. I like to stay and live a bit like a local which ideally takes about a month, so a 7 countries in 7 days itinerary doesn’t appeal to me, as you said, it’s the quality of the experience not the quantity that counts. I had no idea how many countries I’ve been to until people started asking me, so I had to check my passports for stamps to come up with an answer 🙂

  • kab421

    I think it is fun to keep count but someone is a dick if you think you are superior to someone else because of that. Putting in your blog profile (as you state) is just a fact. No problem with that.

    However I think that some lose track of the reason to travel by focusing too much on country count. If someone has been to Bali then they know a little about Bali but almost nothing about Indonesia. A country count doesn’t really measure how much they traveled within those countries.

  • I count, but I don’t flaunt. There’s def a difference! I like to know how many I’ve been to but nobody else really needs to know unless if for travel work related reasons. Def agree with the certain people who can be a dickhead about it though. 🙂

  • I counted countries up until my 30th birthday… four months ago. Inspired by my great uncle, who has stepped foot in over 80 countries, I did the whole 30 before 30 bit as a challenge to myself to make travel (and saving for travel) a part of my habits. Montenegro was lucky number 30 at age 27, and then… I kept counting, hitting 34 two weeks ago. It’s not a number I need to flaunt all over social, but other friends and readers have aspired to do the same. I don’t feel like a dick, but rather like a person who met a goal. Now, if only I could actually save money, or learn to sew…

  • Great piece, Glo! If you count countries, that’s cool and if you prefer not to, that’s fine too. At the end of the day, we have bigger things to worry about than how many countries the next chick has been to! It definitely isn’t a competition! Love your work!

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