Why I Don’t Want to Visit 100 Countries Before I’m 30


Lauren in Guanajuato

I know, right?

That’s a weirdass title for a blog post.

But here’s the thing: for the past five years or so, this has been one of my goals in life. I’ve never shared it publicly until now, but I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I was going to travel to 100 countries before my thirtieth birthday.

And a few months ago, and less than a year before the finish line, I decided to stop pursuing this goal.

Here’s why.

Lauren in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands

Let’s Be Honest: It’s a Pretty Easy Goal if You Have Money

I love setting myself challenges. I’m constantly working through a list of goals to see how I can better myself and my life.

Visiting 100 countries before the age of 30, though? It began to start feeling like it was solely a financial challenge.

I have around 20 countries left to complete my goal, and if I wanted, I could book flights to those remaining destinations tonight and spend the next couple of months ticking them off my list. I’m incredibly lucky to have both the money and the time, so it would be easily achievable.

Mission accomplished.

Almost anyone with a powerful passport and their health can visit 100 countries if they have enough money to do so. There are 100 safe countries in the world. There are 100 countries that are easy to get to. There are 100 countries that have a well-worn tourist trail. Flights are so frequent that you could visit five countries over a week if you wished.

Money, money, money.

Almost all you need is money and you can achieve this goal.

And I get it: you don’t have to be rich to travel, and travel doesn’t have to be expensive. But it gets far more expensive the faster you travel, and to visit 100 countries before the age of 30 means doing a hell of a lot of fast-paced travel. It means making your travels all about quantity over quality.

And let’s not even start on the impact such frequent travel has on the environment.

I’ve spent a ton of money on travel over the past five years — most likely six figures worth — and while it was a fantastic investment and so entirely worth it, I’ve reached the point where I’m almost embarrassed by how much I now spend on travel. On how I visit countries with struggling locals who can’t even afford to even eat and there I am, blowing thousands of dollars on plane tickets and hotels year after year after year. I want to spend less money on myself and more on the people who genuinely need it. Rather than throw $10,000 at visiting 20 countries as quickly as possible, I want to spend it on something that makes me feel more comfortable.

Lauren eating duck beaks in Bangkok

I Was Doing It to Impress People

I used to frequently think to myself: man! How cool will it be to be able to tell people I visited 100 countries before I turned 30?

My 20s have been all about achieving; you can’t say I didn’t rock the hell out of the decade. How many people can say they got a Masters in Physics, built a successful business, scored a publishing deal, met the love of their life, literally changed people’s lives, and travelled the world for six years straight, all within the space of a decade?

Wouldn’t hitting up 100 countries be the cherry on the top?

I mean, sure, it sounds cool. I’m sure some people would be impressed by it.

But honestly, that’s the only reason why I was doing it.

And that’s a pretty dumb reason.

It’s not that I was travelling to impress people, but that I was travelling faster than I’d ordinarily choose to do so because I felt as though I had to hit this target.

There are more important things in life and in travel than visiting as many countries as you possibly can in a certain time frame; I want to focus on those instead.

Lauren at Angkor

It Limits Where You Can Go

You’ve read my blog posts: you know how many times I end a blog post with a vow to return to a place very soon.

How many times do I actually follow through on it, though?

Because if you have a goal of visiting 100 countries and you still have 20-odd to go, you prioritise the new over the loved. Even when you have 50 countries to go and only three years in which to do it in, you focus more on new countries.

I love visiting new countries. Some of my favourite countries are places I visited for the first time this year, like Mozambique, South Africa, and Namibia. The problem comes when I want to return to them, but feel as though I can’t.

I’d love to return to Mozambique to check out the northern parts of the country, but feel as though I can’t, because I should be heading to Madagascar or Ghana or Sao Tome and Principe, instead. The best part of working online and for yourself is that it gives you unlimited amounts of freedom. You can work anywhere in the world; go wherever you like; hang out with whoever you want; change your situation if you’re not happy.

So why was I tying myself down to only the destinations I hadn’t been to before?

I’d love to return to Indonesia to hop across lesser-known islands for a month. I dream of spending three months eating my way around Italy. I want to take the Trans Siberian across Russia. I want to go hiking in Nepal. I want to explore more of the Maldives. I want to eat everything in Greece.

For a long time I’ve been prioritising new destinations over those trips, and as soon I told myself my challenge was no more, I felt like a weight had been lifted. I felt as though I’d reclaimed my freedom.

Now, I can mix up my travels and return to the places I love as well as exploring brand new countries.

Tallinn Views

It Makes You Travel So Fast

Back in 2015, I had a spare two weeks to go anywhere in Europe. I went to Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, and Poland. I CAN’T BELIEVE I ACTUALLY DID THIS.

Last year, I planned to visit Germany and France for two weeks over summer, then decided to squeeze in trips to Luxembourg, Monaco, and Andorra on the same trip.

Even this year, I set myself a goal to visit every country I hadn’t yet been to in Europe. All eleven of them. In one summer.

Those fast-paced jaunts around the continent are not the type of travel I enjoy.

Every year, I would spend weeks racing around as many countries as possible before slowing down my pace and immersing myself in a destination once more. Let’s just say my travel highlights include experiences like the eight months I spent exploring Mexico’s cuisine and the two months I spent basing myself in chaotic Saigon, not, say, the two days I spent rushing around Stockholm and the three days I spent sleeping in Fiji in order to recover from too much fast travel in the South Pacific.

Every time I arrived set off on one of these fast-paced jaunts, I’d remind myself that I didn’t know when I’d be back in this part of the world again, so I should make the most of it and visit all the neighbouring countries.

Often, this would end up taking away the focus of my original trip.

I’m so much happier when I get to travel slowly and immerse myself in a single destination at once. Fast travel exhausts me, stresses me out, makes me unwell, and results in me having been to a ton of places but not knowing all that much about many of them.

Ostrich at Etosha

You Learn So Much Less About the Places You Visit

Let’s say you decide to start travelling on your 20th birthday. Even if you evenly spread out the countries you visited, and even if you were travelling nomadically, you’d still need to visit 10 new countries every year until you turned thirty. And that’s the best case scenario, because most people don’t start travelling full-time when they’re 20.

Trying to visit so many countries in that time is going to result in you knowing very little about the places you choose to visit, and for me, one of the best aspects of travel is getting to slot into a new way of life in an unfamiliar city and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about how people live in that place. You can’t do that in two days.

Let’s take Poland: I arrived in Warsaw and was burnt out from my ridiculous Baltics/Scandinavia trip I had just finished. I arrived, checked into my Airbnb, spent two days inside, then took a taxi to the airport. I have seen nothing of Poland.

Fiji: I arrived, I got sick, I spent three days in my hotel, and then I left.

I spent one hour in Monaco.

These rushed visits were just a fraction of my traveling life. They happened once a year, if that. But they still happened, and I still feel guilty for not making the most of my time in these destinations.

When you travel quickly, which you’ll have to do to meet your country counting goal, you can barely scratch the surface of the places you visit. For me, that meant I was then constantly craving returning to these countries in order to do them justice. Which, of course, I couldn’t because I had this goal to visit 100 countries to focus on.

The countries I visited for a few days mean the least to me. I had few meaningful experiences in them; I discovered nothing about myself; I met none of the locals; I learned little about the culture; and it was just a case of me spending money to see a tiny amount of a place and say I’d been to the country.

Sanbanks in Vilanculos Mozambique

It Makes Travel Your Entire Focus in Life

Some of the most miserable times of my life have been when my life focused on one thing. And as wonderful as travel has been for me, making it my entire world was a surefire route to a breakdown.

It’s not healthy to have your entire life revolve around one single thing for years on end. And that’s not me saying that you shouldn’t love travel or be nomadic, but that it’s important to cultivate other interests as you do so. As an example, by the end of my five years on the road, I struggled to hold a conversation with somebody who had zero interest in travel: after all, the only books I read were travel memoirs; the only websites I read were travel blogs; the only work I did was travel writing; and the only hobby I had was to travel and plan future travels.

Moving to Portugal and making it my base is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Returning to the same apartment in a city filled with the same friends between trips was all I needed to become a more well-rounded human. I get to travel and I get to live a “normal life”, too. I love my life in Lisbon and I’m tremendously grateful for the path that led me here.

At the same time, having this 100 countries challenge hanging over me resulted in me getting sucked back into my travel addiction. Knowing that I had 18 months to cram in around 20 countries led to me racing from new country to new country on a monthly basis.

 

Sometimes, after a week of being away, I’d look on Facebook and see all my friends drinking wine in the park, having group meals at my favourite restaurants, arranging weekend brunches, forming stronger connections, and actually getting work done.

And every single time, I’d vow to travel less in the coming months. After six years of full-time travel, having a community of friends is so important to me because not having one was the biggest downside to my nomadic life.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned that a life that’s 100% travel doesn’t work for me. I need somewhere to base myself in order to keep my mental health in check. If I’m counting countries and hitting up new destinations every few weeks, I can’t keep myself healthy, and that has to be my priority in life. I really don’t want to go through another mental breakdown, guys.

Lauren in a clog

What Does This Mean for My Future Travels?

I’m going to stop travelling for the sake of it.

My travels so far in 2017 have been the best of my life, because I’ve been focusing less on increasing my country count and more on visiting the places that excite me. I’ve been taking more defined trips, that have been about getting to know a single destination, rather than hopping across as many different countries as possible.

As an example, when I found inexpensive flights to South Africa at the start of the year, I opted to spend two weeks solely in Cape Town rather than trying to cram in as much of Southern Africa as possible. The previous version of me would have been moving every two or three days in order to see as much of South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Botswana as she could, then come away feeling exhausted and knowing little about the places she had passed through.

In the future, I’m going to focus more on returning to the places I love, rather than only going to new countries.

I’m going to travel to a place because I want to go there, not because it’s close to where I currently am, or cheap to get to, or going to rack up my country count.

I’m going to slow down my travels, too, so that I can get to know the places I visit better, and spend more time enjoying life in Portugal.

As soon as I realised I no longer wanted to pursue my 100 countries challenge, I felt like a weight had lifted.

I’m excited to start being a better traveller.

 

 

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think there are merits to trying to visit a certain number of countries in a time limit?

80 Comments

  1. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    Great article! You should not travel because you feel like you need to because of other people. You should travel because you like it and go where you want to go and leave when you want to.
    Fast travel is not my thing!

    • January 2, 2018
      Reply

      Yeah. It’s tough being a travel blogger, because you’re forever reading about other people travelling to amazing places and there’s definitely a bit of pressure to keep up and make sure you’re travelling just as extensively. Once I realised it was making me miserable, I changed things up and started travelling as slowly as I wanted to without thinking of exploring the planet as a race.

  2. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    There are probably some merits to fast travel, though I’m also the type to say, “how many countries can I cram into this one trip?” Just to say I’ve been there. When I was 11, we had a layover in Germany. I made my mom go outside the airport, so we could say we’ve been there! Now, I do not count Germany as a country I’ve visited. :-)

    With Kids, I can’t really do that fast-paced travel now. For me, I want to go to one place and stay there for awhile and then come home. The easier the better, even though they handle airplanes really well.

    • June 30, 2017
      Reply

      I can only imagine how much more exhausting fast travel would be with children in tow!

  3. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    I definitely agree that traveling to certain places simply to impress people is not a good approach. And if you’re not enjoying the trips you’ve been taking, it’s time for a change. I personally enjoy a little bit of list-ticking and counting, and that extends to non-travel things in my life too, but I do it for me because it’s fun. I made it to all 7 continents before my 30th birthday, mostly because after going on an Antarctica cruise with a friend, I realized I had over a year to get to Australia and somewhere in Asia. Super easy, even with a full time job. I’d like to make it to every country in Europe before I turn 45…which is scarily only 8 years away. But I don’t plan super quick trips to most of these places, because I do have the luxury of time. I also revisit countries quite often…just got back from my 3rd or 4th visit to Poland because it’s a wonderful country and so close to Berlin. I guess for me, I like the structure of a goal like getting to every country in Europe by age 45, plus I do actually want to see each of those countries. I wouldn’t do it if there were countries on that list I had no interest in, which is why it’s probably the only continent where I will ever get to every country. And 8 years to make it to a little over 20 countries I have remaining doesn’t feel like I’d be rushing it. So yeah, having those types of goals can hold you back if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, but if it’s just a fun thing for yourself, I don’t see a problem with it. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Lisbon and working on a better balance to still travel but also cultivate a life there. And like you said, you have to prioritize your health, so rushing around the world isn’t good.

  4. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    Boom truth bombs right there Lauren, thanks for sharing (I bet some people think this is a click bait post ahha).

    I’m with you, been debating going on a day trip to Andorra while I;m here in Barca for a few weeks to tick the place off. Honestly though, I have no idea what the capital city is or anything else so unless I was super curious or had read about the place in the book…there’s no real point in going right?

    Thanks for letting me think out loud haha. Keep it up, you have rocked 2017 thus far

  5. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    I agree with you completely! You shouldn’t feel the need to do anything, if you don’t want to do it for yourself! Although that’s one of those things that’s obviously easier said than done :)

    I feel that many travel bloggers are just trying to collect the most impressive list of visited countries, so it’s great that you will start listening to yourself!

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! I’ve definitely fallen victim to comparisons and competitions in the past. All it did was make me unhappy and forced me to do stuff/go to places I didn’t really care about.

  6. Atanas
    June 21, 2017
    Reply

    I can only say I absolutely agree with everything on this post. Slow travel is the best!

  7. Otto
    June 21, 2017
    Reply

    I want travel the world and meet easy women, what country is best for that, thanks

  8. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    This article speaks to me. I completely understand where you are coming from when you say you feel internal pressure to prioritise visiting places you’ve never been over places you have already travelled to, but love so much, you want to return to. There’s also pressure as a travel blogger to have this vast history of travel stretching all corners of the globe, as though you are not authentic or ‘lesser’ for having a smaller portfolio. I think you’ve very inspiring for your decision, and I look forward to reading more of your adventures!

    http://www.thegingerpassports.com

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      Running a travel blog definitely plays a role, too. That’s something I often discuss with Dave: if I had an online business that wasn’t a travel blog, would I travel as much as I do now? And the answer is always no, which shows me I haven’t been travelling for myself.

  9. June 21, 2017
    Reply

    I love that you fully gave up on a goal. I orient my life around my goals (obviously, hence my name haha), but I try to always leave the impression upon people that it’s totally cool to change those goals too. As you grow and learn more about yourself and as experiences change us, it’s so important to reflect on what we tasked ourselves to do and if it’s something we still want. Why continue to pursue a goal just to impress people or just to complete it, when in the end you didn’t want it?

    Wishing you happy and mindful travels,

    Jenn

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! I totally agree. Last year, I set myself a goal to be able to run a 10k, but after training for a few months and hating every single second, I knew it was silly to continue with something that was making me miserable. Same with this! I’m much happier now I don’t feel all of this pressure to visit a bajillion countries over the next year.

  10. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    When I was in Bulgaria I met a few you tubers who were aiming to visit every county in the world in five years. All I could think was that they were just list checking and not having any meaningful experiences in those countries, especially the ones they only spent a day or two in. Travel for me isn’t about being able to brag about the number of countries I’ve visited. It’s the people I met, the food I eat, the cultures I learn about that make travel so exciting. I think this is a really good decision!

    • June 28, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah, and you skip over the many benefits of travel if you’re just racing from place to place and not taking the time to experience anything they have to offer. If I’d hopped from place to place every couple of days, I doubt I’d be the same (better) person I am today!

  11. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    Loving the new approach Lauren and completely agree that you should be able to feel like you can return to places and not push yourself to always be going somewhere new. I have returned to a lot of my favorite countries numerous times – about 10 times to Canada, 9 times to France, 4 times to Hawaii, twice to Mexico with more trips planned in the next few years. I get a lot of joy returning to places I love and there is always more to discover. I have been to 56 countries and have been living abroad and travelling a lot for the past 13 years and although I could have definitely visited a lot more countries in that time – I have no regrets and I am sure you won’t either

    • June 30, 2017
      Reply

      I agree that it’s just as great to return to the places you already love as it is to explore somewhere new. It feels good to no longer have the pressure to focus only on the latter!

  12. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    It’s amazing how consistent this change in mindset is from a traveler in his or her 20s to 30s. I’m the same way when it comes to ticking countries off a list, but don’t mind speedy travel maybe 1-2 times/year. The question is, aside from those bad experiences in which you spent the whole trip sick or inside, did you meet anyone during those short hops with whom you still stay in touch?

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      I guess it syncs up with people turning 30 and suddenly stopping caring what other people think of them. I can’t think of anyone I met during those short trips that I still keep in touch with.

  13. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    Great article! I love reading about all those who spend their time travelling from place to place with no base. I love hearing their stories and how they go about full-time travelling, but I know that I couldn’t do it. I know that I need a place to return home to after my travels and, like you said, have other focuses in my life besides travel. Friends and family, hobbies, a house to come back to- these are all things that I love just as much as travel and I couldn’t give up one for the other. Purposeful travel is definitely my favourite way to explore! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      Full-time travel worked for me for a few years, but I think that was because I started travelling immediately after graduating, so I wasn’t aware of what *the other side* looked like. And I guess because you can handle being away from friends, family, hobbies, routine, etc, for a few years, but after that, it started making me unwell. Having a base and travelling regularly is now perfect for me, as I feel as though I get the best of both worlds. Well, as long as I don’t travel too much!

  14. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    I hear you! I did give myself the challange to visit 50 countries before 30 and made it at age 29. Then i was thinking what next 75 at 35 or something. I was just constantly looking at cheap flights in Europe and weekends away.. When I got my daughter it just became to much work.. but still it is hard to beat the habit. I did take a bus from Barcelona to Andorra just to tick it off..

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah, I would check Secret Flying every single day and think about booking flights for every month of the year. It became an obsession and I realised it was taking away from everything else in my life!

  15. Angela
    June 22, 2017
    Reply

    I really appreciate this article Lauren – it made me think about my reasons for wanting to visit certain countries; do I really want to go there for me or am I just doing it to tick it off a list to impress other people? Thank you! xxx

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      I’ve spent a lot of the past year pondering that same thing: sometimes I can’t even tell if I genuinely want to visit a place or if I’m excited to go there because I can write about it and put photos on social media. And if I feel that way, it’s best to go to the places that really excite me!

  16. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    I’m so glad to hear someone else talk about traveling slowly to keep their health in check. I was starting to think I was the only one without a “X# of countries before I’m XYZ” list. Of course, in my case, 30 is way far back in the rearview mirror. :) Enjoy your new leisurely way of traveling!

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      Fast travel is so bad for both my physical and mental health, and it’s one of the reasons why I decided to stop to find a base. Having very little stability in my life was leading to nothing but panic attacks!

  17. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    This is such a great post! I’m sick at how it’s becoming a competition, people gloating about many countries they’re been to. So many countries needs week, months even, to be truly appreciated. I always feel guilty going back to the same places but I’m getting to the point where I just don’t care! Madonna has probably toured in 150 countries but it doesn’t mean she’s experienced them.

    • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      I completely agree! I lived in the UK for over 20 years and still feel as though I have so much more to explore.

  18. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    I really honest reflection – When we visited Asia I found myself doing exactly this! I planned two days here and there to say we had visited a new country but want to return to every one of them so we can really explore it!

    You travel around Africa looks incredible! Enjoy Congo!!

    • June 27, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah! That’s another problem — I’d see so little of some of the countries I’d visited that they’re still on my list to fully explore in the future!

  19. June 22, 2017
    Reply

    Lauren, thanks for your honest post. It all boils down to be at the present moment, doing something that we enjoy rather than chasing a goal that detriments our contentment. It’s living for the goal and not for ourselves. You did the right thing to lose the burden of traveling to 100 countries.

    • June 27, 2017
      Reply

      That’s exactly it — I was craving visiting places I love but feeling as though I couldn’t because I had this enormous goal to meet. And setting myself a goal five years ago didn’t take into account the fact that my opinions and aims would change over the years.

  20. June 23, 2017
    Reply

    Really great post. As a nerd who loves list, I do count my countries, and I’m always on the lookout to add to my list (stopovers are an easy and fun way to do it!). My rule is that I won’t plan a trip around countries. I live in the US, and I can easily visit 5+ countries on a Caribbean cruise, but I wouldn’t just for the sake of it. Plus why should all countries be given equal weight?
    States (in the US) are similar. I’ll go a little out of my way to visit a new one, but I wouldn’t let it interfere with the main focus of the trip. My number one rule is that if you don’t experience something specific to the state, it doesn’t count, so crossing the border and driving right back or stopping for gas doesn’t count.
    Recently I bought a big map that I stick pins in to mark where I’ve been. A much more fun way to track your travels! But more difficult to put on my blog than a list.

    • July 18, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, I totally love lists, too, and I do keep track of how many countries I’ve been to. But like you say, I no longer want to visit a place just to feel as though I’m crossing it off a list.

  21. June 25, 2017
    Reply

    What a great post. I love traveling to new places but I didn’t start traveling internationally much until last year. While I love going to new countries, I still feel like I have so much more of my own country, USA, to see; there are still counties in my own state that I haven’t been to. There are always going to be people who have been more places, experienced and seen more things than I have. But that doesn’t matter because I’m enjoying the experiences that I’m having.

    • June 27, 2017
      Reply

      Oh man, I definitely need to explore more of the U.K. When I first left to travel, I’d only been to about two other places outside of London! That’s definitely going to be a focus for me going forward

  22. June 27, 2017
    Reply

    I want to visit 30 countries before I’m 100! Oh good, I’ve done that already. ;) Great post. Here’s to quality not quantity.

  23. Travel Coupons
    June 28, 2017
    Reply

    This is such a wonderful post.

  24. Zuzana
    June 28, 2017
    Reply

    Great article :) I love travelling too and I know a few people who would travel somewhere just to tick it off the list but they are not particularly interested in the place at all… I rather prefer slow travel too :) Last week I spent 4 nights in Schladming in Austria, I travelled to Hallstatt and spent a whole day there… I just relaxed and sat under a tree and watched the beautiful Hallstätter See :) I think that you should enjoy the time in a destination to the fullest, it makes better memories and makes you feel much more grateful for it :)

    • June 30, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah, I mean, if you’re travelling to tick a place off a list but don’t really care about the place itself, what’s the point in even travelling? You’d be better off spending your money on something else.

  25. June 28, 2017
    Reply

    Good for you! My favorite reason for travel is curiosity and I often find myself being a “local tourist” in places because I like to learn about the culture and how everyday people spend their lives in a new place. I tend to spend more time in one place focusing on the experience. Do what’s best for you!

    • January 2, 2018
      Reply

      Yep! This definitely feels like the right decision. People can travel however they like, but for me, slow travel makes me happiest. I want to learn about the places I travel through, rather than skipping through them in a day and checking them off a list.

  26. stephen lee
    June 29, 2017
    Reply

    even if you achieve the 100 mark by the time you’re 35 that’s still pretty impressive achievement. ;)

    • June 29, 2017
      Reply

      Is it, though? I still feel as though it just means that I was fortunate to have enough money to hop around to a bunch of different countries.

  27. This is a great post. I have a much less impressive goal — 25 before 25. I’m 21 at the moment and have 12 countries under my belt. I’m sticking with my challenge because it’s really pushing me to get out and explore new places these next couple years while I’m finishing school and entering the real world (help). But I have found it a little limiting. I would kill to go back to Thailand and Taiwan but I find myself trying to fit in other places first to get to 25.

    • June 30, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah, as soon as I realised I was limiting myself and prioritising visiting only new places over the countries I was desperate to return to, I knew it wasn’t a goal I wanted to continue to pursue. But to each their own! I’ve ended up in some wonderful countries that I was originally visiting to add to my number count, but fell deeply in love with, so there are some benefits to a challenge like this.

  28. Brian
    June 30, 2017
    Reply

    Sounds like you are a spoiled little ‘gurl’ who might, finally, be maturing slightly…

    • June 30, 2017
      Reply

      Sounds like you’re an presumptuous asshole, Brian Cassidy.

  29. June 30, 2017
    Reply

    I love this article. I can definitely relate to wanting to do things just to impress other people. I’ve definitely coveted more obscure destinations because they make a more interesting talking point. But at the end of the day, people tend to forget other people’s travel stories so quickly anyway. It’s better to just satisfy your own interests.

    I also get way too stressed out by fast travel. I travel with chronic mental illness, and chronic depression makes it so so hard to travel quickly. I end up losing A LOT of days to sleep and pure exhaustion because both my body and my brain are so tired.

    I completely agree that you should re-focus on travelling to places for a specific reason or just for enjoyment. There’s always going to be someone that has travelled more countries than you anyway, right? Keep doing you, I look forward to reading more.

  30. July 3, 2017
    Reply

    Great post and something I totally agree! it’s not about the quantity, but quality that makes travel more interesting and meaningful ;-)

  31. David
    July 3, 2017
    Reply

    This is so true. One should not travel to impress people and also traveling fast so as to achieve a certain number of destinations is not fun at all. traveling should be fun and one has to take time to enjoy.

  32. July 3, 2017
    Reply

    An interesting and honest blog post – thanks for sharing. It is great getting to truly know a destination for longer rather than to travel fast just to hit a number goal.

    • July 18, 2017
      Reply

      Completely agree! The places I’ve travelled through quickly are the ones I know very little about. And now I just feel as though I have to return for longer trips, so what was the point in just spending 24 hours there in the first place?

  33. July 5, 2017
    Reply

    This is a really refreshing look on it! I find it a little overwhelming sometimes when I’m with bloggers who talk about every country they’ve visited and I feel like wow I haven’t been to any of those.. but I like a slow paced travel life.

    I actually was recommended your blog by my uncle, Ian Shepherd, whose partner Jo knew you from her daughter I think. Lovely to e-meet you!

    x

    • July 18, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! I think that was a big part of it, too. I started comparing myself to other travel bloggers and feeling like a crappier blogger because I hadn’t been to as many countries as they had. Nice to meet you too! :-)

  34. July 5, 2017
    Reply

    Yes I definitely agree!! I’m traveling to learn about places, their cultures and histories and that’s what makes me happy and not just bragging rights. Great article!

    • July 18, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks, Zainab! It took a while for me to learn that some of the travel I was doing *was* just for bragging rights, but looking back, I can see that that was the travel I’ve enjoyed the least. I’m looking forward to prioritising only the places that I most want to visit.

  35. July 6, 2017
    Reply

    There is nothing as good as the slow travel. Totally agree with you. Loved reading it throughout. Good Luck!

    • July 8, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks! You definitely get to appreciate a place more if you’re not rushing through a country in a couple of days.

  36. July 9, 2017
    Reply

    Great post! Slow travel is the only way worth going…

    • July 18, 2017
      Reply

      You definitely get to learn more about a place when going slow.

  37. July 16, 2017
    Reply

    “I’m going to stop travelling for the sake of it.” Good for you.

  38. August 6, 2017
    Reply

    Now I’m feeling a little guilty too… I was in Amsterdam for 10 hours but I talk to friends about it as if I knew everything about the place when this isn’t the case at all. Thanks for the reminder! And thanks for making me realize that I too would be happier if I traveled to places that I genuinely found interesting :) To being better travelers

  39. laura
    October 29, 2017
    Reply

    I do agree with the premise of the article although I have to say, that as a person who travels as extensively as I can for a hobby whilst my main job is acting (25 and 55 countries) It’s a little bit of a cop out to hear from someone who travels for a job (you said you blog and do travel writing) that they will abandon this goal because it’s not enjoyable anymore. I mean after reading this article, as honest as it is, I really don’t think I would look to yourself for advice or read many of your ‘city’ or ‘country’ posts because you’ve just freely admitted that you’ve been running around the world for the sake of ticking countries off a list. I frequently read travel blogs and I am always the most inspired by the ones with really long travel lists…I do emphasise with what you’re saying and think you’re right in thinking this way but I also feel the principal sentiment of the article is you trying to convince yourself this is the right thing to do lol.

    • October 29, 2017
      Reply

      Well, my site isn’t really an advice-based travel blog — my book is titled How Not to Travel the World! — and I focus far more on storytelling than city guides, so I wouldn’t really have all that many city and country-related advice on the site for you to read anyway ;-).

      Also, the post is titled, Why I Don’t Want to Visit 100 Countries… so it’s not really a cop out for me to give my own personal reasons, is it? It’s a post about my personal reasons for not pursuing a goal that was no longer working for me.

      But for what it’s worth, the country-counting-racing-through-cities-as-fast-as-possible has been such a tiny, tiny part of my travels over the past six years — maybe two weeks a year was spent travelling in that way, if that.

      I’ve spent seven months in Mexico, nine months in Thailand, seven months in the US, four months in Spain, four months in Vietnam, three months in New Zealand, three months in Taiwan… and when you narrow it down to cities: three months in Melbourne, three months in Sayulita, four months in Granada, five months in Chiang Mai, two months in Saigon, three months in Portland, two months in Taipei, two months in London, a month in Seattle, a month in Madrid, a month in Guanajuato, a month in Playa del Carmen, ten months in Lisbon, and so on and so on. So while I’m confessing that *some* of my travels were about impressing other people or going somewhere for the sake of it, it was maybe only 5% of my total time on the road — I actually move really slowly for a travel blogger :-)

      Honestly, I think the reason why I wrote this article is that I’ve become tremendously uncomfortable with the privilege that affords me to travel, to the point where I’m often embarrassed at how often I do it and how many countries I’ve been fortunate to explore. When so many people are struggling in the world, it felt selfish to set myself a challenge that is essentially based around how much money I can spend, when I could be doing so much more with it to help other people. And also because I like to call myself out on my blog when I think I could be doing better ;-)

    • Ben
      December 13, 2017
      Reply

      I agree with you Laura.This author is confused and does not know what she wants.She says she feels guilty about traveling while others are languishing in poverty? That is just laughable.Even if you wanted to help, all you have to do is finish your short term goal and then start traveling while helping other people.She just confirmed that she used to travel with no objective in the past but most importantly confirmed that she is a quitter.Pretty confident that there are so many things in her life that she walks away from when the going gets a little bit rough

      • December 14, 2017
        Reply

        Why are you so upset and offended? There’s no shame in changing your priorities if something isn’t working for you — it doesn’t make you a quitter; it makes you smart. It’s disappointing you think I walk away from things when they get tough, though — you should stick around and read more of my site. Actually, you shouldn’t because unfortunately, you sound like a cunt.

  40. Ben
    December 13, 2017
    Reply

    This is a very useless article and it seems that you dont think things through.You were nearly hitting 100 countries and then became jealous of your friends on facebook drinking and dining? pathetic
    All you had to do is cross off the 100 countries, check it off your list the spend more time traveling for quality rather than quantity.Even if you had hit the 100 countries, you still had more countries to visit and YOU COULD STILL GO BACK to countries visited and have more time there.I have never seen such a poorly written travel article and i almost took seriously what a female traveler was writing but all i can see is fear, lack of focus, lack of decisiveness and misplaced priorities

    • December 14, 2017
      Reply

      Hi you must be a country counter. Why are you so upset that I decided not to spend my money on something that was no longer fulfilling me? It doesn’t affect you in any way, man.

      And fear? Dude, I travelled solo to the Congo this year. Lack of focus? You should read my yearly goals posts I publish every January. Misplaced priorities? Wanting to have friends and help people rather than living so self-indulgently is a misplaced priority? Ok then! You seem like a very nice person!

  41. Jaime
    August 14, 2018
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    The post above from Ben is total nonsense, some people are just plain rude.

    I can totally relate to what you are saying in this post. I think I will probably reach 100 countries (already made 7 continents) in the next 18 months but I do concede that this means prioritising seeing new places rather than visiting friends or returning to places I adore. I am probably OK with that for now because I know that I can return to those places thereafter, but I definitely see the logic in your decision making. First world problems eh? Take care x

    • August 21, 2018
      Reply

      Yeah, he was a bit of a dick :-). Thanks for sharing your view! I totally get the drive to see new places — best of luck on your travels!

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