It’s by far one of the worst questions to ask a female travel blogger. Actually to ask any gender blogger whether your niche is travel, lifestyle, pets or whatever. I’m going to go as far as it’s the worst, most irritating question to ask any person who has ever breathed oxygen. Second only to how do you make money, this is the one question irks me so much.

So, how many countries have you been to?

Look I'm on an airplane

How many countries have you been too?

For starters I don’t count countries. It’s a stupid vanity metric and seemingly a way to measure our imaginary penises against one another. Does it really matter how many countries I’ve been to? No it doesn’t. Do anyone outside of this conversation care? Not at all. No one gives two hoots have many countries you’ve been to. I don’t.

My passport carries an entire backpack of white privilege.

Now without sounding like a woke wanker I want to talk about how marvelous my passport is. I travel with an Australian passport. It’s brilliant. I’m also a 5’6, size 8, blonde white woman. Who smiles a lot. A glorious combination of white privilege packaged up right there for you. It’s easy for me to travel to just about anywhere that my budget allows me to. I rarely have to apply for visas prior to travel. Even then it’s kinda easy and I just pay the processing fee.

It’s not really a challenge for me to get into countries. According to the Passport Index my Australian passport gives me visa free entry into 110 countries, I can get visa on arrival in 50 countries and only need a visa for 38 countries. Not too bad really.

If I wanted to I could hop on a plane, fly to Malaysia and hang out in some cool hotels. Ok so the budget doesn’t currently allow for that level of freedom but my passport does.

White woman relaxing at the airport

Being white helps me get through the airport.

Yup, white privilege does exist in the travel world. A combination of years of travel experience and being a white blonde woman makes getting through the airport that little bit easier. I rarely get questioned. Though the worst grilling I’ve ever received from a border security guard was on arrival in the UK at Edinburgh airport.

And when I do get bomb checked it seemingly is having me as the token white person for the hour.

Now I do know that some of this is my clean appearance, freshly brushed teeth and friendly demeanour. This is helps get the staff on side, as I’m convinced that 75% of incoming passengers are absolute jerks to the airport staff.

What’s a better question to ask?

Rather than try to measure me against how many countries a person has been to, try to ask questions that create an engaging conversation;

  • What is currently your favourite country that you’ve visited?
  • Have you got a country that is on the top of your must visit list?
  • Where was your favorite breakfast?

To answer these questions – Japan, Korea and breakfast in the Andean mountains in Peru was pretty magnificent. Not tasty at all but well worth it for the views.

Also this delicious cronut was amazing. Would I travel back to Launceston to eat one again. Yes I would.

Right now you’re probably think what a twat I am. Which is 100% fair enough. The point of this post isn’t to brag about how cool my passport is. More so we need to be aware that travelling is a privilege. And not one that everyone can partake in. Asking a simple question like – how many countries have you been to – is a rather insensitive question. It fails to delve into the deeper discussion points around access to travel, international political situations and generally ignores the fact that we have no control over what we can or can not do with our passport.

So next time you are about to have a meaningful conversation with a traveller think before you stumble down the rabbit hole.

Jeanette

Jeanette

Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker

Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.

13 Comments

  1. I like the suggestion regarding asking what is your favorite country you’ve visited. I’ll use that one…

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  2. I often forget how lucky this white blonde is (just wish I was a size 8!). You forget the little things of travel like visas, when you rarely have to apply for one. Travel isn’t a competition, it is a valued education and those that get that kind of education are privileged.

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  3. I also stopped count countries and city! No point 🙂

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  4. I like some of this post like I don’t count the countries as well, even because I always think the best is yet to come.
    I don’t think there is a privilege for white people respect others. I have been blocked by the boarding few times, I am white, but it a direct consequence of the new flights’ law, even my flights are always with a different passport respect the Country where I am going and where I come from. So, I get blocked just for few questions.

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    • Maybe you look a little bit dodgy…. Just sayin

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  5. Interesting post. Thank you for acknowleding the white pivilege point. It is something that many seem to be ignorant of. I would love to visit Japan, very high on my travel wishlist. Btw, I have been to 40 countries with my Indian passport (dont get me started on the visa applications!!). And you, you didn’t mention the number in your blogpost, just kidding 😉

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  6. I dont think anyone’s ever asked me how me countries I’ve been to ! I do have a rough number in my blog bio and that was a stab in the dark really ( and I dont count stopovers or anywhere I didnt spend at least a night). It does give a certain amount of cred to a travel blogger in my opinion although as you say which countries and what you did there is probably more important that just a number.

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  7. Love that you’re aware of your privileges with your passport and appearance. My passport doesn’t give me privileges which sucks and I can’t do anything about that. But I have other privileges that allow me to travel and live outside my passport country for majority of my life which I am grateful for.

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  8. OMG I couldn’t agree more! HAHA Thank you for sharing <3

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  9. This made me laugh… I like your voice. I agree, it is irritating to be asked that, as if the # of countries you’ve been to somehow equals your greatness when compared to others. You’re right – traveling is a privilege and not something that should be bragged about in that way. I am always grateful for the experiences I am able to have and don’t keep a scorecard, either 🙂

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  10. What an interesting post! I thought counting countries was odd for a different reason. Even if I visited Paris, I did not visit all of France. Even if I visited Monte Carlo, I didn’t visit all of Monaco. So when I get those scratch maps as presents, I feel odd using them, as I did not go to every place I scratched out, in the same way that people who have been to 100 countries have not really seen all 100 countries. I don’t know. That’s just my perspective.

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  11. Haha amen to that. I am actually quite pleased that I can’t remember how many countries I’ve visited off the top of my head. Another travel related pet peeve is when people say they’ve “done” a place. I had a friend who felt she had to pack everything in to one trip to a country because she didn’t want to return – she’d ticked it off the list and felt going back would stop her from travelling to some other new destination. That was her way of travelling, which is fine, but I think you lose out if you don’t at least leave yourself open to travelling back to countries you’ve really enjoyed the first time ’round. Plus, can you ever really completely see everything a country has to offer? It’s a weird mentality.

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  12. You make some important points. I am from the USA and am very aware of what it means to travel as a US citizen. We also travel as a gay couple and my partner is from Asia. She actually needs less visas than I do. We work hard to be aware of where we are and how things are going/being perceived. We have travelled in a number of countries where being gay is illegal.

    Reply

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