Destinations Magazine

Oh Earth, Why Are You So Big?

By Livingthedreamrtw @livingdreamrtw
Flying Around the World Have you ever felt that there is just too much to see in this world?  Too many places, attractions, regions, and cities to really do it all? There are many travel writers who are already on the noble quest to see every country in the world, something that is such a daunting task that we haven't even considered it.  One, Lee Abbamonte, already completed his goal of visiting every country a few years ago and became the youngest person in the world ever to do so.  Seeing it all is definitely a worthy dream that most of us have. But as we have found out in our travels over the last 4 1/2 years, there always seems to be more that gets added to the list with every destination that gets removed.  Will we ever get to it all?  No, but isn't that part of the fun?
Seeing It All is Impossible
Shanghai Skyline, China
The UN has 193 member countries and there are a good number of semi-autonomous colonies and non-recognized nations out there that bring the count up even higher.  For those who only get two weeks of vacation per year a life of exploring the world during your career would only amount to 3 to 4 cities in just around 30 countries.  But what about the other 163?  You're on your own for that in retirement, if you make it that far.
Of course, there are many people who are quite fine with that, and this post is not for them.  Those who have not been bitten by the travel bug to the degree we have simply do not have the same drive.  That is quite okay; but for us, 30 countries is something we just can't stomach the thought of.  But to be completely honest, 30 countries is a highly respectable number.  It is only being able to visit 3 to 4 cities per trip and being limited to just two weeks that is the hardest thing to swallow.  Just when you start enjoying it, the trip ends, and you must wait another year for the next adventure.
It is because of this that we love long-term travel, when we can take it.  One trip, even at just 5 months like I did in Asia, hit 10 countries and around 40 cities.   In that trip I managed to cram in over 10 years of vacations in what I would have spent in just 3 the other way around (primarily due to airfare being so expensive).
But do I feel like I made a dent in seeing the world in that time?  Not really.
35 Countries is Only 18%
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
At the time of publishing this post I have visited 35 countries over four continents.  A very nice number for someone who is about to turn 27 in a few weeks.  But when you look at it in the scope of the world, 35 countries is only 18% of all of the countries based on the United Nations figure.  I have quite a long way to go and have barely begun to scratch the surface.
Luckily for us we do not have a goal to visit every country in the world; but we do have a seemingly never ending list of places we want to explore.  Even though I've personally checked off 35, that still leaves another 100+ that I haven't stepped foot in, and more than 20 that I need to go back to for Angie to see as a lot of my travels were solo adventures.
Maybe that is why it feels like we have hardly done anything, no matter how many new places we visit.
Forget About 193 Countries, How About the Cities?
Times Square, NYC
When you factor out 250 days of travel and 35 countries you only really get about 70 to 80 unique cities. Consider that there are anywhere from 250,000 to 300,000 cities in the world and you will realize that we've only visited 0.03% in the best of cases.
Of course, we don't want to visit every city.  90-99% of them are not places travelers like to go see.  But for every one city we've visited in a country we found out about 3 more that we had to skip in effort of keeping on. I may have spent a month exploring Japan in about a dozen cities, but there are another dozen I didn't get the time to visit.  Sapporo and Okinawa will have to wait.  Even six weeks in Thailand only accounted for a few cities and ten or so islands.  Koh Chang, Pai, and the tiny islands no one has ever heard of were hardly even considered. We could go on, but you get the point.
We'll never get to it all, and we're okay with that.  
The world is such a massive place that this seemingly endless list of possibilities is what excites us about travel.  We will never be finished.  There is no end to the list.  Even if we gave everything up and traveled perpetually for the rest of our lives our wanderlust would never be satisfied.  Cities and regions change.  New events and attractions make us want to revisit old favorites, and our own personal tastes change making a much loathed place on one trip become a favorite years later (it hasn't happened yet, but we're hoping).
Yes, you may be able to visit every country, but certainly seeing everything is a goal only a few of us will ever achieve.  The world is so large and such an amazing place that we may not even want to make that distinction even if we did.   There is always something new to discover, and it is time we all got out there to find it.  
We are all running out of time.
Oh Earth, Why Are You So Big?

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