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  • Writer's pictureaymexume

Fellow travellers can we stop saying we're collecting stamps?

"While others are doing XYZ, I'm collecting stamps."


I don't think another expression annoys me more than this one.

Not only does it invalidates other people's choices, but it also reduces a fulfilling experience such as travelling to a mere collection of stamps. And that is, well, sacrilegious.

For example, I once spent a 20-hour layover in Mexico City. My passport got stamped. Does that stamp matter if I feel like I haven't really experienced the culture? Does that stamp matter if I spent the better part of these 20 hours on a tour bus?

Don't get me wrong. Mexico City has left a lasting impression on me. In fact, I was so mesmerized by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico campus, that I registered for Spanish classes at their Gatineau campus.

This begs the question: are all stamps really equal?

For example, Hubs and I spent 10 days walking, riding the bus and cabbing around Buenos Aires. We went to our favourite spots more than once. We did our laundry at a local lavanderia and bought snacks in the corner bodega. We tried our very best to immerse ourselves in the local culture.

This experience was drastically different from the one I had in Mexico. A difference in great part due to time.

But how does one measure a stamp's worth? Are stamps even an accurate way to measure?

I get it. Stamps are quantifiable. They objectively prove that a person has been around. Unfortunately, they do not speak to the experience the traveller had.

To be honest, this is a concept I struggle with too. I'm still not comfortable calling myself a world traveller. I still hesitate or stutter before I introduce myself as such. I often think that I haven't been to enough countries to claim this title. I keep on focusing on numbers rather than on the enriching experiences I've had. And I value those experiences more than anything else. But given that it's virtually impossible to quantify people's experiences, it's easy to rally behind what actually is.

When it comes to travelling, I definitely lean towards quality rather than quantity. No matter how difficult it is to keep track of that.

Then again, I'm weird.

But you knew this already.

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