Sunday, 14 September 2014

What Should You Count --- Countries or Experiences?

If you ask me, I am yet to be in that league where people have ticked off a whopping number of countries. That is still a dream for me. The only country that I have travelled to other than my own country is Australia. Does that make me a mediocre traveller?


I know so many travellers who have travelled to around 50-95 countries, and that too while they are still quite young. That’s an amazing achievement without an iota of doubt. But, should that daunt me as a traveller?

To be honest, I do feel a little let down by the fact that I haven’t been able to travel as much as I should have been. Of course, there are several factors responsible for it – money, resources, and circumstances. But, should I really feel bad about not have travelled to at least a dozen of countries? Is travel a race?


I am sure that if I were of some other nationality, I would have travelled to a handful of countries by now, but that’s not the case in India. International travel is a big deal here. Indians are slowly adapting to the lifestyle of travel. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is whether travel is about counting countries or is it about counting experiences.


Someone has rightly said that ‘comparison is the thief of happiness’. If you compare your achievements or even abilities with someone else, you are bound to feel daunted or boastful. And, both the emotions are wrong. The good thing would be to run your own race and be your own competitor.


I do aim to travel as much as I can, and as far as I can, but I am not very aggressive about it. I believe in chewing on each travel experience. I’d rather choose quality over quantity. It’s more important to learn and grow with each new place that I travel to. I think I would like to be proud of my experiences on the road – the challenges, the joys, the fears, and the thrills.


It’s the courage to step out of my comfort zone, the openness to mingle into something unfamiliar, and the curiosity for new places that make me a traveller. I don’t care how many years it takes me to travel to my dream countries. I don’t care for any number. Of course, I do have a travel bucket-list. But I don’t believe in talking about it. I want each of my travel experience to be a surprise. I like to be a spontaneous traveller.


I think if you keep your focus on ‘how many cities or countries’, you will lose your focus. As a real traveller, I’d like to aim at making the most of my destinations. Since I am a travel blogger, I do feel the pressure of adding more and more places to my travel portfolio. But I guess, as long as I gather ‘experiences’ to inspire people, there is no need to fret.

By writing this post, I don’t intend to express that counting countries or continents is a wrong practice. I can understand the emotion behind it. But, everybody has different opportunities and resources. Travel is not a competition. A true traveller is defined by his or her level of inquisitiveness for places, landscapes, cultures, traditions, beliefs and people.

So, it’s not ‘how much you travel’ but ‘how well you travel’ that counts.

What do you say? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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25 comments:

  1. It reminds me of the story "The Bet" wherein two friends make a bet that one would travel around the world and the other would keep himself locked in a room with all the books that he desires to read. The climax is interesting to note.

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    1. Well, I'm not aware of the story, but the thought has invoked me recently. I see so many people talking about the number of countries they have been to. I feel it doesn't really matter how many countries you have traveled to, as long as you are an observant traveler. A good traveler gains a lot even from one country.

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  2. Interesting thought actually - and one that I haven't had before. I wish I could count experiences, but the problem with experiences is that there are too many to note! Countries are so easily defined too. But then it all boils down to what you say at the end - travel is not a competition (despite some people's attitudes!). It's just to be enjoyed and experienced for what it is, and on an individual level :)

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    1. I'm so glad you acknowledged it! Yes, experiences are more difficult to count, but that's the whole point! You don't need to count! You just have to go on traveling. :)

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  3. I completely agree with you. I've traveled to quite a few international destinations but I haven't really explored my own country. When I read about travelers like you, who are thoroughly exploring their home countries, it makes me realize that I have so much left to see in the United States. And, I agree, it's not the number of countries you travel to. The experiences are what make travel so meaningful.

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    1. Thank you, Justine! :) Yup, it's more important to first see what your own country has to offer. India is such a vast country - so many different people, cultures, landscapes, etc that it wouldn't be wise on my part to ignore all of that and rush for international destinations.

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  4. Just right! I am actually working on an essay on the same lines myself for some time. It's all about experiences, and you looking up to yourself, Btw have you read Ayn Rand? You speak, sort of, her language :)

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    1. Haha! Thanks, I'd like to take that as a compliment! I just googled Ayn Rand and discovered that she's an old author. Well, I am not much of a reader. But I will try to read her stuff to find out if I sound like her! :)

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  5. Travel is definitely NOT a race. Travel has to be enjoyed by soaking in the experiences, the culture, the food and much more. People who have been to 50 countries might not have experienced it elaborately. Yes, they are way ahead in numbers, but experiences? May not be the case always. There are people who have been to many countries and have explored them extensively. Every passionate traveller will have his/ her time when they travel to many places across the globe. Wait, your turn is round the corner!

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    1. Very well put, Niranjan! And many thanks for inspiring me!

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  6. I love this post Renuka! I feel somewhat the same way, and I sometimes find by self feeling like I'm not as "good" of a traveler as some others. "Comparison is the thief of happiness." What a great quote! I'm going to have to post that in my office :)

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    1. Oh, that would be great! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Greg!

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  7. Does that just mean perhaps absorbing everything but counting nothing. I mean, I promise you you'll ALWAYS find someone who's been more places, or countries than you have. I met a couple who had been to 197 countries or something. The important thing is the journey and the experience. Regardless of whether you've been to 2 or 200 countries. And if you're the sort of person who wants to get to 200 countries, then do it. That's your bag. Each to their own.

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    1. Yes, sure! Each to their own. Frankly, I don't even have the desire to travel to 200 countries! I would like to leave behind many mysteries of this world. I just want to lap up as much as possible. :)

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  8. Great post and very well said that travel is not a competition!

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    1. Thank you! :) I'm glad that you liked the post.

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  9. the whole point of deciding to be a traveler and not a tourist, is separating oneself from the race. While I see my friends buying cars, houses and getting married all I can think of is which place/country to go next. But then again, its the experience I am chasing, not a tick mark off countries. Though I accept I have set a target of 30 before 30 for myself, and that is just to get more travel done.

    Then again, in your case you are a brilliant travel writer and the ability to present one's views on travel, speak up their mind and make others experience what you have is an amazing ability. While I may be traveling many times more than you I would still be in your envy because of that. Or maybe that's not envy but a deep admiration.

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    1. I can understand your point, Anshul. When you are aware of your resources, you can make such plans that you will travel to so many countries by the time you are a certain age. But that's not the case with everybody. What's important is to remain positive and hopeful about your dreams. If I want to travel, I will travel. Nothing can stop me! But I will probably make no fixed plans. I will just follow my heart. :) And thank you so much for writing such kind words for me. Readers like you are valuable to me.

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  10. "It’s not ‘how much you travel’ but ‘how well you travel’ that counts." this statement hits the bull's eye. Definitely inspiring article and will reread every time when i make plans to travel.

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    1. Thank you so much, Vishnu! :) I'm glad that you found it inspiring.

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  11. I agree with you but I would love to know your experience in Australia or in India....I want to understand what was the difference in the trip that you took and that I have taken and how our experiences differ

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    1. Well, each traveler has his or her own point of view, so experiences differ accordingly. It would be great if you read my posts on Australia and India. :) Check out this post on Sydney - http://www.renuka-voyagerforlife.com/2013/09/you-know-you-are-in-sydney-when.html

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  12. Hands down, its the experience any time. I would rather visit lesser places but spend at least a week at each place.

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    1. True, Haddock. Spending at least a week somewhere is far more enriching than doing a two-day or three-day tour of a city.

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