What’s in a Number?

“So how many countries will this be for you?”

“53.”

“Wow, high five bruh!”

As I was listening to this exchange between a couple of co-workers before our last holiday, I realized I’ve never understood people like this. You know the type, and can spot them easily as they often have country flags sewn on their backpacks, speak in chest bumps and brag about their number of sexual partners.

Has traveling really devolved to a mere checklist for people to cross off in order to say they’ve ‘been there’ and ‘done that’? Some of the nicest people I’ve met in my life have not left their home state and I’ve met accomplished world travelers that are even larger world class assholes.

These questions and concerns seemed relevant as we have just started booking our trip. Interestingly, one of the first few questions we often get asked is: “How many countries will you visit?” to which I shrug. It was never about a number.

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Staggering Purchases with Stockpiling Cash

We found tickets through Google flights for $1,500 for all three of us to fly from Seoul to Montenegro, a little gem in eastern Europe that provides a little time on the beach at Budva on the Mediterranean sea along with the old city of Kotor to start our trip. From there, we would take a train to Belgrade and a flight to Tallin, Estonia for the first two weeks. We got the tickets from Belgrade to Tallin on miles from Turkish airlines but they came with high fees of $120 a ticket. Still, the flight time and short layover through Istanbul where more desirable than what my favorite search engines were offering.

My strategy of making this trip affordable was to buy tickets and accommodation for two weeks at a time starting in October and continuing to February. With that, we could have the first 10 weeks of flights and accommodation paid for and use the spring months to gather money. Our travel rewards credit cards would earn transferable points for free flights and free hotel night stays which would be a nice respite after a steady string of Air B and B rentals which helped us stay under budget.

Our pace was pretty lazy. Four to five nights in most destinations at a time and we’d have to book Europe through the summer as it can get pretty busy. After August, I knew the pace would lighten up and we could book a few weeks out depending on our whims and where the wind blew us.

With these purchases, I faced a startling realization-there was no turning back. We were committed.

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