Many years ago, before Christ, a Roman author, orator and politician, Cicero popularized a latin phrase, shortened and translated to mean, “To each his own.”
I have come to quote him time and again especially within my travel circles. Travelers inspire me on the daily. My senses are assaulted by the instagram pictures they put up, or the round the world trips they take, and I may react by way of a breath sucking gasp of astonishment, or a feeble low whistle. It may be a shot captured whilst they leap off a plane over Dubai, held by a few straps connecting their body to a more experienced skydiver; or when peering into the fiery red cracks of Mt Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or someone trudging high up Mt Everest, heavily clad and swollen like a bear in hibernation, their gear protecting them from the bitter cold wind and the frost of ice flakes.
Other things elicit a similar response from me for example, when I hear that someone has managed to travel the whole world, their passports thick and groaning under the weight of stamps from places such as Afghanistan, or Albania, or even Alaska. I would love to visit every country, but friends have warned me that it would take a lifetime to do so.
Of course I feel encouraged by folks like Johnny Ward who managed to visit every country (except Yemen at the time of this writing) over a period of ten years, or very recently Cassie de Pecol who managed to travel to 196 countries at the speed of 18 months. That remains a dream for me, but I would rather accomplish it at a slower pace. I find it manageable, and most importantly, affordable. Travel is not cheap, and in these times with more millennials being churned out from higher institutions of learning and choosing the gap-year route which turns into the travel blogging route; myriads are jostling for those sponsorships, and for traffic to their sites, it’s not an easy feat to snag a fully sponsored trip.
During Cassie de Pecol’s round the world gambol, there were a couple of instances she spent 30 minutes in a destination, or just got her passport stamped at the airport, and didn’t manage to view the countries in all their “glory.” When her story went viral, snatched up by huge media sites like CNN, you bet the travel snobs came out to play, dictating what was and wasn’t travel.
“That’s not travel!
“She hardly experienced cultures!”
“If we’re counting. Layovers dont count. I have visited 25 countries and did 5 layovers. I never include them in my 25 counties that I visited.”
“Every country in the world in 24 months!!! IMPOSSIBLE UNLESS You don’t take time to meet the locals, to enjoy every place fully and spending all your time jumping from a plane to a car onto another train. Basically you are in the transportation all day long and might find few hours a days to eat and sleep. That is not my definition of traveling. She might have all the stamps of each and every countries on her passport, but I’m very sceptical about how much she enjoyed it and how many places she’s actually seen.”
“Some people are just doing it for bragging, not to nourish their soul. What matters more for some people is the count !”
I would think that it all depends on how one as an individual views travel, and what they want from it. If you’d like to be in a contest, or barge your way into the Guinness World Book of Records, you have every much as right to country count, as does the other who would like to take a slow crawl through the globe, experiencing the different cultures and souls therein, ultimately taking away some learning from it.
There can be challenges coming up with fast travel, zipping through from place to place. One’s health may not always be optimal, there are instances when visiting distant lands, one has been afflicted with food poisoning. It’s difficult to jump on and off planes when you have a stomach bug and puking everything you eat, worse still when you have diarrhoea. There’s also the ever present danger of thrombosis in the lower extremities as a result of too much sitting in planes, I’ve had altitude sickness when going from low to higher altitudes in a short space of time, I’ve also lost my passport and spent a good amount of time trying to recover it before my return flight.
For all the publicity Cassie got, and the ensuing sponsorships coming her way by way of her having a large following; I would say it’s probably worth the trouble for her, and hopefully she can leverage on all that to do a slower round the world trip, to really experience the cultures.
When it comes to travel, one just has to travel the way they most feel comfortable with, and what they are able to handle with regards to vacation times off in the country they live in.
‘To each their own..”
What do you prefer? Fast or slow travel? Why?
I think that such discussion is totally irrelevant. The two things that matter in a travel are one’s finances and health. Everybody can travel as they like and it’s nobody’s business.
Thank you Ele..that’s what I thought too!
I feel like the Nike slogan works best. Just do it! Travel that is 🙂
Yes Kemkem..just do it! I totally agree to just travel!
For a gimmick to say you’ve done it then it is perfectly fine. I would hope that she has plans to actively visit the countries where she only received stamps if she chooses.
For me I prefer slow travel. I would much rather enjoy spending time in a country. Tasting the food, getting lost, finding something new, heck even smelling the air.
Most definately slow travel is cool! I would feel cheated if I just whizzed by..as you say even taking in the air..the feel of a place is something!
She mentioned that she will be on a sponsored trip to Antartica, but has no plans to settle in onto a 9 -5 job, so I hope she will take time to visit those countries she just got stamps into but didn’t venture in.
it’s a double edged sword. Who determines how much time or what criteria qualifies an “expert” opinion? I think we all need to relay our experiences within the context of our time spent there and let the reader choose. The problem is, that’s not how this industry works at all. Simply because customers demand content and publishers need people to produce, fast. So the days of Paul Theroux and Jack Kerouac are coming to an end. Sure, a few are doing epic long forms over months in a place but they are few and far between. Cassie’s success is the perfect example of what people want. Clickbait/Instagram ready travel.
I just had a conversation/debate with another blogger talking about her experience in South America. She was going in on how oppressive the culture is to women. And I asked her, do you speak Spanish? She can barely order a meal, so how can she pontificate on the complicated nature of cultural norms in South America? That would be a red flag for me as a reader but at the same time I’ve written about countries I haven’t fully “seen”.
Context really matters. And of course, this is entirely subjective. But it all comes back to being honest with readers. Some people wouldn’t care if you only spent a few days in a place. But be straight up about it.
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Thank you Minority Nomad, important points you’ve included in there. It is indeed a double-edged sword, we may not be able to stay long enough as travelers but this is where close interaction with locals to have a feel of what is on ground comes in, and as well, I would think our audience would like for us to offer information from our own angle as to how we found the destination, if they are planning to visit in the future. Time and resources to visit a place ‘properly’ are hardly there and most times we make do with what we have available very much unlike the hardcore travel writers in the past did. But I agree with you, we just have to honest and forthright about the time spent at a place.
‘Love the post Caroline!
I think both types of travel are perfectly valid. When I was a young graduate I did fast travel. I was travelling solo, and I would travel overnight. I wouldn’t even get a hostel? Whaaat? I would sleep on the bus. I’ve even been known to sleep in a casino (it wasn’t on purpose but you know. It just happened! and I thought it was a right laugh! If you’re travelling for yourself, you see what you wnat to see and do what you want to do, and if 2 hours is enough, then off you go!
I’m a little older now (ahem), so I’ve slowed down a little. One, because I have the time and the money, and secondly, in many cases, I’ve been to the destination before, I liked it, and I now I want to know more. Or, I’m travelling with my family who prefer to smell the roses, and don’t want to sleep in a bunkbed, in a hut, in Wales…for too long! And because sometimes, it’s perfectly alright to go to Milan, and spend the whole day people-watching in a restaurant or fly to Tuscany, and spend the complete afternoon in the pool attached to our villa eating crusty bread, tomatoes, and drinking red-wine. Because we can, and we want to!
Thank you Victoria! yes to the validity of both kinds of travel..I think it really is one’s choice as per affordability and comfort. 🙂 Happy to hear you’ve slowed down and are taking in everything as you relax with family on your travels!
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