Why I Count Countries  (+ Fun Ways How You Can Too!)

Do you count countries?

Some people seem to base their travels on ticking off countries from a bucket list, whereas others will roll their eyes at the concept of quantifying travel.

I get why counting countries annoys some people. You can’t really ‘tick off’ a country ever, even if you’ve lived there for years. Realistically, you can never do ‘everything’ in a place. Plus, that shouldn’t really be a primary driver to travel. 

I guess there’s this perception that ‘real’ travellers don’t count countries. They travel organically and float country to country submerging themselves into the everyday culture gaining a truly authentic experience. The travellers who do count on the other hand are simply doing it for the passport stamp and bragging rights, likely not leaving the confines of the resort. 

I’d argue this isn’t necessarily true. If counting countries helps motivate someone to travel the world, and gives them joy, then what can be better than that?

Here’s why I personally love to count countries and if you’re interested to count countries too (if you don’t already), then I’ve also provided some inspiration and resources on how you can count countries in a fun and unique way!


why I recommend counting countries
why you should count countries

Firstly, What’s My ‘Number’?

girl taking selfie on the salt flats of bolivia

I’ve been to 36 countries to date most of them I’ve travelled solo, but I still visit countries I’ve been to previously, and don’t treat it as a driving force for my travels.

I am by no means going to write off a country just because I must visit a new place so I can achieve my goal. I like to know where I have been, and keeping track by counting countries helps.

I don’t necessarily agree with travels being dictated by the sole aim of ticking off a place – but I’m sure that’s rarely the case for anyone. Even if it was the initial goal, a visitor will no doubt leave a place having learnt something, having met great people or having experienced at least a part of the culture or visited historical or natural wonders, and truly, that is the main thing.

… But I Don’t Want To Go Everywhere

Considering I am counting them, it may surprise some people that I don’t aspire to visit every country in the world.

For personal and mainly humanitarian reasons, there are some countries I want to avoid. A personal boycott you could perhaps call it. Well, at least until some leaders and governments sort their human rights out.

I know someone who calls it a f*ck it list, the opposite of a bucket list. It’s got a ring to it I must say.

So considering I don’t want to, (and probably physically can’t) visit all 169 countries, why specifically do I still count countries then?

Reasons Why I Count Countries:

1. It Helps My Travel ‘Career’

girl on deckchair on beach of resort

Channelling my love of travel into starting this blog over five years ago has opened up a huge amount of doors for a side career (maybe one day full-time career?) I adore.

It has also allowed me to earn some regular passive income and gain a portfolio of paid freelance writing gigs for some pretty cool publications. I’ve even been to Romania and Japan on paid press trips.

Realistically, the more countries you visit, the more credibility you gain as a ‘travel expert’ or ‘travel writer’.

It’s important to the readers, clients and even your peers to prove that you at least vaguely know what you’re talking about. If you’ve never left your home country, yet write about worldwide travel, will anyone truly take you seriously?

If you can prove that you’re well-travelled by providing ‘a number’, it intrigues people and adds that little bit more professionalism and authenticity to your work.

2. It Inspires Others

sapa group picture with locals

Whenever the topic of travel arises, and people ask how many countries I have been to, there’s nothing more amazing than seeing someone’s eyes light up as we rattle off common countries visited.

More humbling, seeing people’s amazement if they do not travel or no longer travel. Some people love living vicariously through my own adventures and I’m grateful for all those who cheer me on. Most of all, I love seeing that ‘click’ in people’s head when they realise they too can travel like me, if they really want to. And even if they’re nervous to travel alone, ultimately you don’t have to wait on anyone else.

The comments on my blog posts saying that I’ve inspired someone to consider a country they may not have previously, are some of my favourites. This reason is a big part of why I blog.

I’m just an average person. By telling people my very humble ‘number’ it sparks conversation, and inspires people to travel the world too.

3. It Allows Me To Reflect

great wall of china blog

I want to look back at my life and have not only achieved some badass things in my career, I also want to have gained memories that fill me with happiness. I want to ensure I don’t take this beautiful and fascinating planet for granted. I want to explore new places and learn as much as I can. Counting countries allows me to see that I’m doing just that.

I am grateful to have the ability and means to travel in a world where so many people can’t. I wear the number of countries I’ve visited like a personal badge to remind me of this. How amazing we live in such an incredible world.

4. Quite Simply, I’m a Sucker For a List!

girl sat in jungle garden writing in a journal

Come to my house and you will find multiple notepads with long lists in pretty much every room (and then there are my phone notes..!) ‘To do’ lists, shopping lists, blog article lists, foods I need to try lists, bands I need to listen to lists – you name it, I’m pretty sure I will have a list for it.

There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a nice black pen and putting a fat line through one. If I can work my way down until that bad boy is all completed – then hell, that’s pretty much my week made. Sad I know. But I find counting countries satisfying and if that gives me a tiny bit of joy, then why the hell not?!

Six Ideas How to Count Countries:

Has my passion for counting countries got you thinking?

Counting countries can be as simple as a number in your head or writing them down in a notebook or journal. However if you’re looking for more interesting or creative ways to keep track of where you’ve travelled, here are just six unique ideas:

1. Tracking via an App like ‘Been’

There are several apps and websites where you can mark the countries that you’ve visited, and they will generate a personalized map for you, or keep a running list that you can update at any time. You can share this map or list on social media, embed it on a personal blog, or even display it on a digital picture frame at home.

In the past I have used the Been App to log countries (though now I just have a list on my phone’s notes).  Though the one downside to this app is that it makes you realise how much of the world map is still blank!

2. A Travel Charm Bracelet

For a more personalised and wearable method, consider a charm bracelet. Start with a sterling silver bracelet and very time you visit a new country, purchase a charm that symbolises that country.

This could be a miniature replica of a famous landmark (like the eiffel tower to represent France, for example), a symbol associated with the country, or even a charm inscribed with the country’s name. 

3. Travel Badges/Patches

A classic and popular method is to buy a badge or patch from every country you visit and sew it onto a backpack or jacket. This way, you literally carry your travels with you wherever you go. Each patch can serve as a reminder of the adventures you’ve had and show it off to others too, if that’s something you’d be into!

4. World Map Canvas or Scratch Map:

At home I have a scratch-off world map poster that my brother gave me as a gift. It’s a great and simple way to mark off the countries I have been to and display it.

The other option is to purchase of create a large canvas with a world map printed on it (or even paint a world map on a wall!). Each time you visit a new country, paint or mark that country with a unique colour, or create a photo montage. This visual method not only tracks your travels but also serves as a conversation piece and personalised art for your home.

5. Fridge Magnets

Why not start a collection of fridge magnets from each country you visit? Fridge magnets are a small, affordable, and fun souvenir that can be found almost anywhere. They can be of landmarks, traditional motifs, or simply the country’s name. Your fridge will eventually become a colourful mosaic of your travels, and each magnet can spark a memory whenever you pass by.

6. Country-Specific Recipes Cookbook

If you love cooking or trying new cuisines, create your own cookbook where you add a recipe from each country you visit. Alongside the recipe, you can note the date and some memories of your visit. This can serve as a delicious reminder of your travels every time you cook. Thinking into the future, how cool would this be to share or pass down to your family?!

Counting countries gives me personal gratification and I will continue to celebrate these life milestones. If you do the same or are wanting to start doing it, I also hope these ideas have given you some inspiration how you can track the countries you have visited. But whatever way you choose, the most important thing is that it ultimately brings you joy and fond memories of your adventures.

Let me know in the comments if you count countries, or not (and why!).

Going travelling Soon? Don’t forget these essentials!

Flights: compare and search for the cheapest flights using Skyscanner

Accommodation: hotels to hostels, glamping to apartments, I always use Booking.com

Tours: to find the best group tours and activities worldwide (with up to 20% off), use Viator

Visa: don’t forget to check the entry requirements for the passport you are travelling with

Inspiration: to kick-start your next adventure, how about Lonely Planet’s Guide to the World?

20 thoughts on “Why I Count Countries  (+ Fun Ways How You Can Too!)”

  1. Great post! I don’t actually know how many countries I’ve been to, and definitely haven’t done anywhere near as much traveling as I would’ve liked, but I’m hoping to eventually! I’m usually of the “must be productive and binge-watching shows = wasting time” variety but definitely have a tendency to do the latter too, so having goals is definitely helpful!

  2. Interesting to read this as I actually wrote a post on why I’ve given up counting countries! I actually do enjoy it (for reasons #2 and #5) but I feel like it’s too complicated to be taken seriously (e.g. which countries actually count, and according to whom?) so I’ve given up doing it for any reason other than just to keep track of where I’ve been. That said, I’ve never had anything against people who count countries, but I DO have a problem with people who forget to actually experience those countries at all in favour of racking up the numbers. Absolutely no reason why you can’t do both, though! 🙂

  3. That was such an interesting take to the whole concept of counting or not counting countries! I wish you all the best with reaching your count goal before you’re 30 – that would be so amazing to achieve!

    Eena ☼

  4. This was such an interesting take! Thank you for sharing! It would be awesome to have a goal to reach, but I always break my goals anyway haha.

  5. I found this topic very interesting and thank you for sharing your views on it. I’m a sucker for lists too and I think I do it more to keep a mental note. Never for bragging rights

  6. I have not counted countries, but I found out there is a club here in Phoenix called the 100 club for those who have traveled to 100 countries or more, so now I am thinking about it!

  7. I loved this post!! I never counted how many countries I’d been to before but I’ve been with my boyfriend now for 7 months and someone asked us how many counties we had been to in that time and it’s now 14! And it was actually nice to see just how much we’ve done together in a short time. Doesn’t mean we won’t go back again though!

  8. I love that you wrote about this! I feel the exact same way. I love counting countries for my own reference. I had the same goal of 50 before 30 and I just hit it this summer. I also agree about going back to places. I’ve been to Italy and Japan several times and can’t get enough.

    • Yeah I don’t think a goal should dictate travels, rather just be an inspiration! Good luck suth your 50 before 30!

  9. I absolutely love how you explained why and how you count countries. It’s true that many count to show off, but if you’re really getting to know the culture and the country, there’s nothing wrong with counting. ?

    • Agreed – though I don’t think it’s fair to brag to start with as so many people can’t travel. It’s a privilege but there’s a way you can count and not for sure!

  10. This was such an interesting one. I’ve never heard of people scoffing at those who count, it seems a bit daft. I don’t count, only because I did once and realised it was less than I thought by the time I’d factored in that many of those amazing experiences occurred on different trips to different places in the same few. I have a location goal list, some places on it are towns/ cities, others are countries and that’s the only list I really keep track of. It seems silly to judge someone for counting (or not).

    Glow Steady

    • Agreed! And you’re right – it’s not simply about countries, there’s many experiences and places within a country you can have and count too!

  11. Wow that was an interesting read! I never thought about the two opposing perspectives and always thought that it was perfectly normal to count countries. However, I agree that it would be a waste to do so if only for bragging rights. Hopefully most people do it for one of the reasons listed here!

    • Yes I always thought it was normal but a conversation with someone passionate about the topic whom I met on the road made me realise otherwise!


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